UPDATE: 4:11 p.m.: From Chronicle Reporter Marisa Lagos, regarding loss of Bronstein as Chronicle Editor in Chief:
"reaction here is shock, no one really saw it coming and he said the person taking over will have "deep roots in the area""
UPDATE: 4 p.m.
Ok. For the lamoes. The Bay Area's #1 daily newspaper just lost its head. Amid falling profits, circulation and prestige, The Chronicle's parent company just announced that Chronicle Editor in Chief Phil Bronstein -- uh -- won't be editor in chief anymore. They don't have a new guy to announce, just that the old guy is out, ... err, up. Now Phil will be "editor-at-large" in charge of "strategy" and stuff. What stuff? We don't know. All we know is the Hearst press release makes it sound like Phil's sort of getting a promotion. It's not clear if he asked for one or wanted one, but he got one.
Some outside media watchers will say this is further proof the Chronicle is convulsing and flailing, searching for a way to stop the hemorrhaging. Hearst probably has a new guy with more layoffs on the brain; something similar to the dirty deeds done down south to the Los Angeles Times by it's parent Tribune.
Conversely Hearst is playing it like, "It's all good. No biggie. We're losing millions. Not a big deal. We gave the boss a promotion. Carry on."
Got an opinion? Weigh in down below. First decent idea in the comments wins a free pair of concert tickets.
We gotta go make some calls.
ORIGINAL POST: This just in, San Francisco Chronicle boss and figurehead Phil Bronstein is no longer running "day to day operations" at the storied, embattled daily. More as we parse the comic, cryptic press release below.. ... --David Downs, Web Editor
PHIL BRONSTEIN NAMED EDITOR-AT-LARGE OF HEARST NEWSPAPERS DIVISION AND
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
NEW YORK, January 23, 2008--Hearst Newspapers announced today that San
Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein will be shifting his role from
running day-to-day operations in the newsroom to taking on broader
strategic responsibilities at the paper and for its owner, Hearst
Corporation. Bronstein will remain executive vice president of The
Chronicle and will assume the title editor-at-large, both for the paper
and for the newspapers division of Hearst. A new editor will be
Commenting on the announcement, George B. Irish, president, Hearst
Newspapers, said, "I asked Phil to consider having a larger role at
Hearst, in addition to strategic responsibilities at the San Francisco
Chronicle. I am delighted that he has agreed."
Bronstein will continue to represent The Chronicle in the community as a
principal public face of the paper. Working with all departments, he
will help shape the role of the paper and its Web site, sfgate.com, in
San Francisco and the Bay Area. In addition, Bronstein will work with
the newspapers division to oversee investigative projects that may
involve multiple properties using resources throughout Hearst. He will
also seek to expand successful strategies he initiated at The Chronicle
to other Hearst papers, and will work with the office of Hearst's
General Counsel on First Amendment issues, including a federal shield
law for reporters. He will also work directly with top digital media
executives at Hearst Newspapers to identify ideas and content that can
be applied across the company.
In addition, Bronstein will write for The Chronicle and sfgate.com. "I
got into this profession because of my great love for words and how they
can be used to move people," he said. "Hearst is a huge company with
amazing creative resources and I'm really looking forward to diving into
the possibilities that presents."
Regarding his newsroom staff, Bronstein said, "I am enormously proud of
what we've accomplished together here. We have saved people's lives,
helped countless others have better lives and held public figures and
institutions accountable to those they are supposed to serve. And we
have done these things consistently and forcefully.
"In the last few years, we have become a multimedia newsroom; we have
taken more risks, engaged our readers more fully, become a more
dynamically local paper and introduced popular and vital innovations
like ChronicleWatch and Journalism of Action. We have gotten more
recognition from our peers and our profession than at any time in the
paper's history and we, virtually alone among media outlets and
companies in recent times, stood firm when federal prosecutors sought to
have us reveal our sources [during the BALCO steroids case]. That last
battle was truly an epic one.
"We've instituted many changes here, particularly over the last three
years. We are on the right track and that causes me to feel that I am
making this move at a good time for The Chronicle and for me." Bronstein
thanked his staff for "indulging me, however reluctantly at times, for
working so hard, for being so dedicated and for making me look good
because of your great talents, far more than I deserved."
Chronicle Publisher Frank J. Vega commented: "Some of Phil's most
innovative ideas, including his introduction of Journalism of Action to
our newsroom, show just how far ahead of the curve he is."
Bronstein added: "After 17 years of editing a paper and all the daily
responsibilities it entails, it was time for me to move to some of the
larger strategic interests I have never had time to pursue. Those 17
years were filled with innumerable crises and great stories, including
floods, earthquakes and fires ? we've lived through times and tumult of
almost biblical proportion. But the profession is changing dramatically
and there's so much we ought to be doing now to take advantage of those
Bronstein first became editor of the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner
in 1991. He then took over as Chronicle editor when the two newsrooms
merged in 2000. He had been a reporter at The Examiner since 1980, and
was an award-winning investigative reporter and foreign correspondent.
Hearst Corporation (www.hearst.com) is one of the nation's largest
diversified media companies. Its major interests include ownership of 12
daily and 31 weekly newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle,
Houston Chronicle and Albany Times Union; as well as interests in an
additional 47 daily and 38 non-daily newspapers owned by MediaNews Group
which include the Denver Post and Salt Lake Tribune; nearly 200
magazines around the world, including Cosmopolitan and O, The Oprah
Magazine; 29 television stations through Hearst-Argyle Television
(NYSE:HTV) which reach a combined 18% of U.S. viewers; ownership in
leading cable networks, including Lifetime, A&E;, The History Channel and
ESPN; as well as business publishing, including a joint venture interest
in Fitch Ratings; Internet businesses, television production, newspaper
features distribution and real estate.
Contact: Paul Luthringer, 212-649-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org