Hearst Gets the Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle, now owned by Hearst Corp., says it intends to put out a world-class newspaper in the city. Good. San Francisco deserves better newspapers than the ones that have been the mainstays all these years.

The Chronicle and Examiner have their share of superb reporters and editors. Under the joint-operating agreement that had been in place, they put out two sub-par papers, because they didn’t individually have the resources to publish one excellent paper. Maybe, together, that will change.

Hearst has a lot to prove, beyond the fact that it doesn’t publish many respectable papers today. The way it has conducted itself in this buyout, making sleazy deals with politicians and alleged competitors, has been an ethical disgrace.

I’m sorry to see the Examiner (at least the one we knew) die. But newspaper economics today are not condusive to having two major hometown dailies in a city like San Francisco.

Competition for the city and suburban readers won’t lag, however. My own paper is boosting its circulation in the city, adding reporters and editors and a special edition, and we compete hard in our Web presence. There are dozens of interesting Bay Area-related Web sites, magazines and smaller papers, and a variety of not broadcasting outlets.

All of this competitive activity is good for people who care about news. The competition improves the quality of the report. It should improve the quality of readers’ lives if they care about newspapers.


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