The San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. It was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. The paper is currently owned by the Hearst Corporation, which bought it from the de Young family in 2000. It is the only major daily paper covering the city and county of San Francisco.
The paper benefited from the growth of San Francisco and was the largest circulation newspaper on the West Coast of the United States by 1880. Like many other newspapers, it has experienced a rapid fall in circulation in the early 21st century, and was ranked 24th by circulation nationally for the six months to March 2010. The newspaper publishes two web sites: and sfchronicle.com, which closely reflects the articles that appear in the print paper, and SFGate, which has a mixture of online news and web features.
|San Francisco Chronicle|
(front page, April 22, 1906)
|Founded||January 16, 1865|
|Headquarters||901 Mission Street|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Circulation||164,820 daily |
The Chronicle was founded by brothers Charles and M. H. de Young in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle, and inside of 10 years, it had the largest circulation of any newspaper west of the Mississippi River. The paper's first office was in a building at the corner of Bush and Kearney Streets. The brothers then commissioned a building from Burnham and Root at 690 Market Street at the corner of Third and Kearney Streets to be their new headquarters, in what became known as Newspaper Row. The new building, San Francisco's first skyscraper, was completed in 1889. It was damaged in the 1906 earthquake, but it was rebuilt under the direction of William Polk, Burnham's associate in San Francisco. That building, known as the "Old Chronicle Building" or the "DeYoung Building", still stands and was restored in 2007. It is an historic landmark and is the location of the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences.
In 1924, the Chronicle commissioned a new headquarters at 901 Mission Street on the corner of 5th Street in what is now the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco. It was designed by Charles Peter Weeks and William Peyton Day in the Gothic Revival architecture style, but most of the Gothic Revival detailing was removed in 1968 when the building was re-clad with stucco. This building remains the Chronicle's headquarters in 2017, although other concerns are located there as well.
Between World War II and 1971, new editor Scott Newhall took a bold and somewhat provocative approach to news presentation. Newhall's Chronicle included investigative reporting by such journalists as Pierre Salinger, who later played a prominent role in national politics, and Paul Avery, the staffer who pursued the trail of the self-named "Zodiac Killer", who sent a cryptogram in three sections in letters to the Chronicle and two other papers during his murder spree in the late 1960s. It also featured such colorful columnists as Pauline Phillips, who wrote under the name "Dear Abby," "Count Marco" (Marc Spinelli), Stanton Delaplane, Terence O'Flaherty, Lucius Beebe, Art Hoppe, Charles McCabe, and Herb Caen.
The newspaper grew in circulation to become the city's largest, overtaking the rival San Francisco Examiner. The demise of other San Francisco dailies through the late 1950s and early 1960s left the Examiner and the Chronicle to battle for circulation and readership superiority.
The competition between the Chronicle and Examiner took a financial toll on both papers until the summer of 1965, when a merger of sorts created a Joint Operating Agreement under which the Chronicle became the city's sole morning daily while the Examiner changed to afternoon publication (which ultimately led to a declining readership).
The newspapers were officially owned by the San Francisco Newspaper Agency, which managed sales and distribution for both newspapers and was charged with ensuring that one newspaper's circulation did not grow at the expense of the other. Revenue was split equally, which led to a situation widely understood to benefit the Examiner, since the Chronicle, which had a circulation four times larger than its rival, subsidized the afternoon newspaper.
The two newspapers produced a joint Sunday edition, with the Examiner publishing the news sections and the Sunday magazine and the Chronicle responsible for the tabloid entertainment section and the book review. From 1965 on the two papers shared a single classified-advertising operation. This arrangement stayed in place until the Hearst Corporation took full control of the Chronicle in 2000.
Beginning in the early 1990s, the Chronicle started to face competition beyond the borders of San Francisco. The newspaper had long enjoyed a wide reach as the de facto "newspaper of record" in Northern California, with distribution along the Central Coast, the Inland Empire and even as far as Honolulu, Hawaii. There was little competition in the Bay Area suburbs and other areas that the newspaper served, but as Knight Ridder consolidated the San Jose Mercury News in 1975; purchased Contra Costa Times in 1995; and while Media News Group (Denver) purchased all other East Bay newspapers by 1985, the Chronicle realized it had to step up its suburban coverage.
The Chronicle launched five zoned sections to appear in the Friday edition of the paper. The sections covered San Francisco, and four different suburban areas. They each featured a unique columnist, enterprise pieces and local news specific to the community. The newspaper added 40 full-time staff positions to work in the suburban bureaus. Despite the push to focus on suburban coverage, the Chronicle was hamstrung by the Sunday edition, which, being produced by the San Francisco-centric "un-Chronicle" Examiner, had none of the focus on the suburban communities that the Chronicle was striving to cultivate.
The de Young family controlled the paper, via the Chronicle Publishing Company, until July 27, 2000, when it was sold to Hearst Communications, Inc., which owned the Examiner. Following the sale, the Hearst Corporation transferred the Examiner to the Fang family, publisher of the San Francisco Independent and AsianWeek, along with a $66-million subsidy. Under the new owners, the Examiner became a free tabloid, leaving the Chronicle as the only daily broadsheet newspaper in San Francisco.
In 1949, the de Young family founded KRON-TV (Channel 4), the Bay Area's third television station. Until the mid-1960s, the station (along with KRON-FM), operated from the basement of the Chronicle Building, on Mission Street. KRON moved to studios at 1001 Van Ness Avenue (on the former site of St. Mary's Cathedral, which burned down in 1962). KRON was sold to Young Broadcasting in 2000 and, after years of being San Francisco's NBC affiliate, became an independent station on January 1, 2002 when NBC—tired of Chronicle's repeated refusal to sell KRON to the network and, later, Young's asking price for the station being too high—purchased KNTV in San Jose from Granite Broadcasting Corporation for $230 million.
Since the Hearst Corporation took ownership in 2000 the Chronicle has made periodic changes to its organization and design, but on February 1, 2009, as the newspaper began its 145th year of publication, the Chronicle Sunday edition introduced a redesigned paper featuring a modified logo, new section and page organization, new features, bolder, colored section-front banners and new headline and text typography. The frequent bold-faced, all-capital-letter headlines typical of the Chronicle's front page were eliminated. Editor Ward Bushee's note heralded the issue as the start of a "new era" for the Chronicle.
On July 6, 2009, the paper unveiled some alterations to the new design that included yet newer section fronts and wider use of color photographs and graphics. In a special section publisher Frank J. Vega described new, state-of-the-art printing operations enabling the production of what he termed "A Bolder, Brighter Chronicle." The newer look was accompanied by a reduction in size of the broadsheet. Such moves are similar to those made by other prominent American newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel, which in 2008 unveiled radically new designs even as changing reader demographics and general economic conditions necessitated physical reductions of the newspapers.
On November 9, 2009, the Chronicle became the first newspaper in the nation to print on high-quality glossy paper. The high-gloss paper is used for some section fronts and inside pages.
As of 2018 the publisher of the Chronicle is Bill Nagel. Audrey Cooper was named editor-in-chief in January 2015 and is the first woman to hold the position. The editorial page editor is John Diaz. The Chronicle's free and breaking news website, SFGATE is managed by executive producer Brandon M. Mercer, who also oversees the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The online versions of the newspaper are at SFGate.com (free) and SFChronicle.com (premium). As well as publishing the San Francisco Chronicle online, SFGate and SFChronicle.com add other features not available in the print version, such as blogs and podcasts. SFGate was one of the earliest major market newspaper websites to be launched, having done so in 1994, at the time of The Newspaper Guild strike; meanwhile the union published its own news website, San Francisco Free Press. SFGate is the fifth largest newspaper website in America with over 33 million unique visitors each month.
The paper has received the Pulitzer Prize on a number of occasions. Despite an illustrious and long history, the paper's news reportage is not as extensive as in the past. The current day Chronicle has followed the trend of other American newspapers, devoting increasing attention to local and regional news and cultural and entertainment criticism to the detriment of the paper's traditionally strong national and international reporting, though the paper does maintain a Washington, D.C., bureau. This increased focus on local news is a response to the competition from other Bay Area newspapers including the resurrected San Francisco Examiner, the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News.
Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada received the 2004 George Polk Award for Sports Reporting. Fainaru-Wada and Williams were recognized for their work on uncovering the BALCO scandal, which linked San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds to performance-enhancing drugs. While the two above-named reporters broke the news, they are by no means the only sports writers of note at the Chronicle. The Chronicle's sports section, edited by Al Saracevic and called Sporting Green as it is printed on green-tinted pages, is staffed by a dozen writers. The section's best-known writers are its columnists: Bruce Jenkins, Ann Killion, Scott Ostler, Saracevic and Tom Stienstra. Its baseball coverage is anchored by Henry Schulman, John Shea and Susan Slusser, the first female president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA).
Another area of note is the architecture column by John King; the Chronicle is still one of the few American papers to present a regular column on architectural issues. The paper also has regular weekly sections devoted to Food & Home and Style.
Circulation has fallen sharply since the heyday of the dot-com boom from 1997 to 2001. The Chronicle''s daily readership dropped by 16.6% between 2004 and 2005 to 400,906; The Chronicle fired one quarter of its newsroom staff in a cost-cutting move in May 2007. Newspaper executives pointed to growth of SFGate, the online website with 5.2 million unique visitors per month - fifth among U.S. newspaper websites in 2007.
In February 2009, Hearst chief executive Frank A. Bennack Jr., and Hearst President Steven R. Swartz, announced that the Chronicle had lost money every year since 2001 and more than $50 million in 2008. Without major concessions from employees and other cuts, Hearst would put the papers up for sale and if no buyer was found, shut the paper. San Francisco would have become the first major American city without a daily newspaper. The cuts were made.
In spite of, or perhaps because of the threats, the loss of readers and advertisers accelerated. On October 26, 2009, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported that the Chronicle had suffered a 25.8% drop in circulation for the six-month period ending September 2009, to 251,782 subscribers, the largest percentage drop in circulation of any major newspaper in the United States. Chronicle publisher Frank Vega said the drop was expected as the paper moved to earn more from higher subscription fees from fewer readers. In May 2013, Vega retired and was replaced as publisher by former Los Angeles Times publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson. SFGate, the main digital portal for the San Francisco Chronicle, registered 19 million unique visitors in January 2015, making it the seventh ranked newspaper website in the United States.
George T. Cameron, son-in-law of the late Mr. H. de Young, will announce in tomorrow morning's issue of the San Francisco Chronicle that he will assume charge of that newspaper with the title of publisher and president of the Chronicle Publishing Company.
A special election was held for Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco on June 5, 2018. The winner of the election will serve until 2020, filling the unexpired term of Ed Lee, who was elected in 2011 and 2015, and died in office on December 12, 2017. Upon Lee's death, London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, became Acting Mayor of San Francisco, but a vote of six supervisors replaced Breed with Supervisor Mark Farrell. The mayoral election was held concurrently with the statewide direct primary election. In San Francisco, the election for the eighth district member of the board of supervisors was also on the ballot.
Eight candidates qualified to appear on the ballot, and a ninth qualified as a write-in. The four major candidates were former Supervisor Angela Alioto, former Acting Mayor London Breed, Supervisor Jane Kim and former state senator Mark Leno. All four main candidates identify as Democrats, though the position is officially nonpartisan per the Constitution of California. Leno conceded the race to Breed on June 13.Brian Sabean
Brian R. Sabean (born July 1, 1956), as of 2015, is the former executive vice president of baseball operations of the San Francisco Giants. He served as the team's general manager for eighteen seasons, from 1997 to 2014. He succeeded general manager Bob Quinn. The Giants had a winning record in thirteen of the eighteen seasons in which Sabean served as general manager. Prior to his tenure, the team had suffered losing seasons in five out of six years. He is a native of Concord, New Hampshire.Bruce Bochy
Bruce Douglas Bochy (; born April 16, 1955), is the manager of the Major League Baseball (MLB) San Francisco Giants. During his playing career, Bochy was a catcher for the Houston Astros, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres. Prior to becoming the Giants’ skipper, in 2007, he was the Padres’ manager for twelve seasons. Bochy has led the Giants to three World Series Championships, and previously led the Padres to one World Series appearance.
Bochy is the only former Padres player to serve as the team's manager on a non-interim basis. He has participated in all five postseason appearances in Padres history, as a backup catcher in 1984 and as their manager in 1996, 1998, 2005, and 2006. In 1998, he led the Padres to their first National League (NL) pennant in 14 years; however, they lost the 1998 World Series to the New York Yankees.
Bochy reached the World Series for a second time as the manager of the 2010 Giants, this time, in a winning effort over the Texas Rangers, and brought the first ever World Series Championship home to the city of San Francisco; it was the first for the Giants franchise since 1954. Two years later, in the 2012 World Series, by sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four games, Bochy managed the Giants to their second World Series Championship win, in three years. He reached the World Series for a fourth time, in 2014, and managed his third World Championship in 5 years, this time leading the Giants over the Kansas City Royals, in seven games.
Bochy is both the first foreign-born manager to reach the World Series (1998) and the first European-born manager to win the World Series (2010). On July 23, 2013, he became the 21st manager with 1,500 wins. On April 10, 2017, Bochy surpassed Dusty Baker to become the Giants all-time managerial wins leader in the San Francisco Era. On February 18, 2019, Bochy announced that the 2019 season would be his last, thus ending the tenure of the longest-serving active manager in Major League Baseball. He is the only manager in Major League history to win at least nine hundred games with two different teams.Buena Vista Cafe
The Buena Vista is a café in San Francisco, California, credited with introducing Irish coffee to the United States in 1952. It opened in 1916 when the first floor of a boardinghouse was converted into a saloon. The current owners also operate the Trident in Sausalito.Central Subway
The Central Subway is an extension of the Muni Metro light rail system under construction in San Francisco, California, from the Caltrain commuter rail depot at 4th and King streets to Chinatown, with stops in South of Market (SoMa) and Union Square.
The subway is the second phase of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Third Street Light Rail Project. The first phase opened to the public as the T Third Line in 2007. Ground was broken for the Central Subway on February 9, 2010. Tunnel boring for the Central Subway was completed at Columbus and Powell Street in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco on June 11, 2014. This subway extension of the T Third Line, originally set to open in late 2018, is now projected to open to the public in early 2020. With the addition of the Central Subway, the T Third Line is projected to become the most heavily ridden line in the Muni Metro system by 2030.The extension will serve major employment and population centers in San Francisco that are underserved by rapid transit. SoMa is home to the headquarters of many of San Francisco’s major software and technology companies, and substantial residential growth is projected there. Union Square, located in the city's downtown, is a primary commercial and economic district. Chinatown is the most densely populated neighborhood in the city. The Central Subway will connect these areas to communities in eastern San Francisco, including Mission Bay, Dogpatch, Bayview-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley.
The budget to complete the Central Subway is $1.578 billion. The project is funded primarily through the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program. In October 2012, the FTA approved a Full Funding Grant Agreement, the federal commitment of funding through New Starts, for the Central Subway for a total amount of $942.2 million. The Central Subway is also funded by the State of California, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the City and County of San Francisco.Ed Lee (politician)
Edwin Mah Lee (May 5, 1952 – December 12, 2017) was an American politician and attorney who served as the 43rd Mayor of San Francisco, and was the first Asian American to hold the office.Born in Seattle, Lee was a member of the Democratic Party. He took office as San Francisco city administrator in 2005 and was appointed on January 11, 2011 by the Board of Supervisors to serve out the remaining term of former Mayor Gavin Newsom after Newsom resigned to become Lieutenant Governor of California. On November 8, 2011, he won the election to serve a full term as mayor. He was reelected in 2015 and served until his sudden and unexpected death on December 12, 2017.Gavin Newsom
Gavin Christopher Newsom (born October 10, 1967) is an American politician and businessman. He is the 40th governor of California, serving since January 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 49th lieutenant governor of California from 2011 to 2019 and as the 42nd mayor of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011. He was sworn in as Governor of California on January 7, 2019.Newsom attended Redwood High School, and graduated from Santa Clara University. After graduation, he founded the PlumpJack wine store with family friend Gordon Getty as an investor. The PlumpJack Group grew to manage 23 businesses, including wineries, restaurants, and hotels. Newsom began his political career in 1996, when San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown appointed him to serve on the city's Parking and Traffic Commission. Brown appointed Newsom to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors the following year, and Newsom was later elected to the Board in 1998, 2000, and 2002.
In 2003, Newsom was elected the 42nd mayor of San Francisco, becoming the city's youngest mayor in a century. Newsom was re-elected in 2007 with 72 percent of the vote. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of California in 2010 as the running mate of Jerry Brown, and was re-elected in 2014. In February 2015, Newsom announced his candidacy for Governor of California in the 2018 election. On June 5, 2018, he finished in the top two of the non-partisan blanket primary. Newsom defeated Republican John H. Cox in the general election on November 6.
Newsom hosted The Gavin Newsom Show on Current TV and wrote the 2013 book Citizenville. Despite speculation, he has denied any interest in running for President of the United States.Harold Gilliam
Harold Gilliam (1918 – December 14, 2016) was a San Francisco-based writer, newspaperman and environmentalist, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner newspapers. The Harold Gilliam Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting, given by The Bay Institute, is named in his honor.James Walker Benét
James Walker Benét (1914 – December 16, 2012) was an American journalist, author, and former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED. Benet was one of the last surviving veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a group of American volunteers during the Spanish Civil War who fought for the Republicans as part of the International Brigades.Matt Gonzalez
Matthew Edward Gonzalez (born June 4, 1965) is an American politician, lawyer, and activist. He was an important figure in San Francisco politics from 2000 to 2005, when he served on San Francisco County's Board of Supervisors and was president of the Board. In 2003, Gonzalez, running as a member of the Green Party, lost a close race for mayor of San Francisco to Democrat Gavin Newsom. In the 2008 presidential election, Gonzalez ran for vice president as the running mate of candidate Ralph Nader. He currently works as the Chief Attorney at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.Mick LaSalle
Mick LaSalle (born May 7, 1959) is an American film critic and the author of two books on pre-Hays Code Hollywood. Up to March 2008, he had written more than 1550 reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle and he has been podcasting them since September 2005.Muni Metro
The Muni Metro is a light rail system serving San Francisco, California, United States, operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), a division of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). With an average weekday ridership of 162,500 passengers as of the fourth quarter of 2017, Muni Metro is the United States' third busiest light rail system. Muni Metro operates a fleet of 151 Breda light rail vehicles (LRVs), which are being supplemented and replaced by Siemens S200 SF LRVs.
Muni Metro is the modern incarnation of the traditional streetcar system that had served San Francisco since the late 19th century. While many streetcar lines in other cities, and even in San Francisco itself, were converted to buses after World War II, five lines survived until the early 1980s, when they were rerouted into the newly built Market Street Subway. The system today traverses a number of different types of rights of way, including tunnels, reserved surface trackage with at-grade street crossings, and streetcar sections operating in mixed traffic; surface stops range from high-platform stations to traditional curbside streetcar stops. Recently, the system has undergone expansion, most notably the Third Street Light Rail Project, completed in 2007, which started the first new rail line in San Francisco in over half a century. Other projects, such as the Central Subway, are underway.Shooting of Oscar Grant
Oscar Grant III was a 22-year-old African-American man who was fatally shot in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009 by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Two officers, including Mehserle, forced the unarmed Grant to lie face down on the platform. Mehserle drew his pistol and shot Grant in the back. Grant was rushed to Highland Hospital in Oakland and pronounced dead later that day. The events were captured on multiple official and private digital video and privately owned cell phone cameras. Owners disseminated their footage to media outlets and to various websites where it became viral. Both peaceful and violent protests of police actions took place in the following days.
On January 30, 2010, Alameda County prosecutors charged Officer Mehserle with second-degree murder in their indictment for the shooting. Mehserle resigned from his position and pleaded not guilty. The trial began on June 10, 2010. On July 8, 2010, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of the murder charge and voluntary manslaughter.
Though initial protests on July 8, 2010, against the jury verdict were peacefully organized, after dark there were incidents of looting, arson, destruction of property, and small riots. Nearly 80 people were eventually arrested. On November 5, 2010, Mehserle was sentenced to two years, minus time served. He served his time in Los Angeles County Jail protective custody, held in a private cell for his safety. On June 13, 2011, Mehserle was released under parole after serving 11 months.Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART on behalf of Grant's family. BART settled with Grant's daughter and mother for a total of $2.8 million in 2011. It also settled with several of Grant's friends who had sued for damages because of police brutality. A separate suit by Grant's father did not result in settlement, as the jury determined that his being imprisoned during much of Grant's lifetime meant they did not have much of a relationship.Susan Slusser
Susan Slusser is an American sportswriter who works for the San Francisco Chronicle, covering the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball. She was the first woman to serve as president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.Transbay Transit Center
Salesforce Transit Center (during planning and construction known as the Transbay Transit Center) is an intermodal transit station in downtown San Francisco. It serves as the primary bus terminal — and future rail terminal — for the San Francisco Bay Area. The centerpiece of the San Francisco Transbay development, the construction is governed by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA). The 1,430-foot (440 m)-long building is located one block south of Market Street, San Francisco's primary commercial and transportation artery.
Construction of the new terminal was necessitated by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which damaged the 1939-opened Transbay Terminal, and voters approved funds for the new Transbay Transit Center in 1999. Construction on the first phase, the aboveground bus terminal, began in 2010. Limited Muni bus service began in December 2017, and full service from AC Transit and other regional bus operators began in August 2018. Full funding has not yet been secured for the second phase of construction, the Downtown Rail Extension, which hopes to add an underground terminal station for Caltrain and California High-Speed Rail.The transit center was abruptly ordered closed on September 25, 2018 following the discovery of a crack in a steel beam supporting the rooftop park. After the discovery of a crack in a second beam, the facility will be closed until repairs can be made. As of March 2019, the transit center reopening is delayed until the publication of a report from the appointed peer review panel.