Founded by the de Young family in 1865 and originally called the Daily Dramatic Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle became part of the Hearst chain in 2000. The Chronicle has won six Pulitzer Prizes, including one for famed columnist Herb Caen.
Bucking the trend in many U.S. newsrooms, the Chronicle’s staffing has remained stable in recent years. Its last layoffs were about eight years ago, says Editor in Chief Cooper.
The size of our newsroom has actually grown since I became editor because we added an I-team for investigations, she says.
We’re still by far the biggest media outlet in Northern California, and we have the biggest newsroom north of Los Angeles and all the way as far east as Texas, Cooper says.
There are plenty of readers counting on the Chronicle, and
we can’t afford to fail for them, she says.
That mission was demonstrated recently in the Chronicle’s energetic coverage of the California wildfires. Cooper even tweeted a list of equipment such as fire tents and Nomex flame-resistant clothing that was purchased for reporters covering such disasters.
Our print circulation is essentially flat, so that buys us time.Audrey Cooper, Editor in Chief of the San Francisco Chronicle
Cooper knows her newsroom’s future rests in strong online readership and is managing the transformation.
Our print circulation is essentially flat, so that buys us time, Cooper says.
A unique issue for the Chronicle is managing two news websites – SFGate.com and SFChronicle.com. SFGate is the older, more established one, and it’s free. It has about 130 million page views per month, the vast majority of which are outside of its designated market area. SFGate is not controlled by the newsroom, but SFChronicle is. That’s the Chronicle’s premium site, with a metered paywall and local content that sfgate does not offer. SFChronicle has 10.8 million page views per month, and the Chronicle is “focused in this area,” Cooper says.