Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday party in Hall of Justice press room

Reporters, editors, producers and photographers are invited to a holiday party at the Janet Parker Beck Press Room in the Hall of Justice in Redwood City from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Come banter with fellow journalists and San Mateo County officials and enjoy light refreshments. The press room is located on the first floor of the San Mateo County Hall of Justice, 400 County Center, Redwood City.

For more information, contact Marshall Wilson at mwilson@co.sanmateo.ca.us or (650) 363-4153.

Messy divorce threatened to open up Hearst Corp.

Fortune magazine has a story on how the messy divorce of one of William Randolph Hearst's 15 grandchildren threatened to open up to public scrutiny the intensely private Hearst Corp., owner of the Chronicle. But legal proceedings ended earlier this year with a settlement that allowed the wife of John Randolph "Bunky" Hearst, 71, to keep $10 million and a couple of houses.
    Fifty-eight years after his death, William Randolph Hearst's blueprint for keeping his company alive and in his family's hands still works. Since Hearst's death, the company's professional managers have increased the company's value by about 2,500% while paying out multimillion-dollar disbursements. 
    The company's mainstream titles like Food Network Magazine are thriving, while competitors including Condé Nast Publications and Time Inc. (Fortune's parent), are shuttering titles. 
    Hearst is rumored to have a $1 billion war chest of cash earmarked for acquisitions. What's more, the infighting that marked the Bancroft family's last days as the owners of Dow Jones couldn't have happened at Hearst, as the family doesn't have enough votes to, say, quibble over a sale. 
    "It's a clever structure," says Charles M. Elson, chair of the University of Delaware's Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. "Hearst gave his descendants a voice but not control." 
    The trust, however, will eventually come to an end, and the company will be divided up when the last of William Randolph Hearst's grandchildren passes away. As of now, any Hearst descendant (currently there are about 65) who outlives Bunky and nine of his cousins stands to inherit about $150 million.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Author plans one-issue SF newspaper

The San Francisco publishing house founded by author Dave Eggers (pictured) plans to release a one-issue, 300-page newspaper on Dec. 8 that will feature the contributions of Michael Chabon, Stephen King, Andrew Sean Greer, William T. Vollmann and Junot Diaz.

The Panorama will also include the work of Bay Area authors Michelle Tea, Tom Barbash, Robert Hass and Daniel Alarcon.

Eggers, perhaps best known as the author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," is a big believer in the printed word and disputes the notion that online journalism will eliminate newspapers.

The Panorama will have a main news section including investigative reports, arts and sports sections, a magazine, a book review section, pull out posters and comics, according to a press release. Eggers' publishing house, McSweeney's, plans to print this newspaper on a 15- by 22-inch broadsheet, which harkens back to the classic days of newspapers.

"The Panorama in part is a way to demonstrate the many things that newspapers can do uniquely well, and how necessary they are to a thriving democracy," said Eggers. "From the beginning, we conceived of this as a way to show readers how much newsprint can do, and how essential to the craft of journalism readers' support of print is."

Panorama will go on sale Dec. 8, and the Chronicle has obtained the right to republish articles from this special edition.

Gabbert becomes permanent host on KOFY

Former KOFY TV20 owner Jim Gabbert (pictured) has been selected as the permanent host of "Retro Night," a series that airs old shows selected by viewers. Each week, viewers can choose among retro classics such as “Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy,” “The Monkees,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Barney Miller,” “Laverne & Shirley” and more.

"Retro Nights" (Sunday 8-10 p.m.) has had a number of hosts since it launched last year, but the station announced this week that Gabbert would be the permanent host, according to reports in RBC-TVBC and TVNewsCheck.com.

Gabbert bought KOFY in 1980 and sold it in 1998 to Granite Broadcasting for $174 million. Now, back at the station he built, Gabbert once again has a platform to reintroduce viewers to what KOFY calls "his non-traditional, outrageous ways."

“Our viewers have expressed how much they miss Jim. Having this Bay Area icon host KOFY’s Retro Night couldn’t be a better fit,” said Craig Coane, president and gm of KOFY. “Retro Night involves audiences in the TV-watching experience and, simply put, Jim knows how to engage them further.”

Viewers can vote for their favorite shows at http://www.kofytv.com/whats-on/retronight. At random, guest hosts will be selected from the pool of voters to join Gabbert on air each week. They have the opportunity to participate in dance offs, game shows and program spoofs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MediaNews takes aim at Google

MediaNews Group will block Google from pulling stories from the Web sites of two of its newspapers that plan to test the concept of charging for news, according to Bloomberg News.

In the first quarter of next year, MNG plans to charge for most of its news on the sites of two of its smaller papers, the Enterprise-Record in Chico and the York (Pa.) Daily Record.

Google will still have access to whatever the papers continue to offer for free.

A.H. Belo Corp., publisher of the Dallas Morning News and other papers, said it’s also considering introducing online fees and blocking Google.

The first chain to discuss blocking Google was News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. is reportedly in talks with Microsoft about displaying stories on its Bing site. 

Google has said in the past that the value of the added traffic Google brings to newspaper Web sites outweighs what it receives by taking the content for free, the SF Business Times noted. As a result, fewer than 100 publishers have blocked their content from Google News.

The idea of charging for news online strikes former MediaNews employee Rob Burgess of Ukiah as crazy. On his blog he wrote the following letter to MNG chief executive Dean Singleton:
    Dear Mr. Singleton, 
    You and the people that own these newspapers are completely at fault for the current state of the industry. Even though I am no longer under your employ I derive no satisfaction from this statement. I am the fourth generation of my family to work in newspapers. 
    You ruined everything in the beginning by starting with giving everything away for free. It has now been almost 15 years since the Internet broke wide and you're just NOW getting around to asking people to pay for your content? 
    I don't blame people for not wanting to pay for it anymore, why should they? Who would pay for something they can get for free? That's foolishness. 
    If this is the best idea you people have come up with, we're looking at newspaperless future even faster than I thought. 
    Sincerely your former employee, 
    Rob Burgess

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 2009 Press Club board minutes

Nov. 28, 2009 — Board room, San Mateo Daily Journal. The meeting was called to order at 7:23 p.m.

Present: Jon Mays, Micki Carter, Marshall Wilson, Melissa McRobbie, Jamie Casini, Darryl Compton. Absent: Dave Price, Jack Russell, Peter Cleaveland and Ed Remitz. Guest: Antonia Ehlers

Minutes of October were approved as read.

Treasurer’s Report: Darryl reported that the club’s taxes have been filed and we paid $480 to have them prepared. Micki suggested that it’s time to take the savings out of United American Bank since they are paying very little. She and Darryl will go together since she’s on the signature card. Darryl also noted that the Examiner still hasn’t paid for the June banquet and he still hasn’t gotten information from our 2009 scholarship winners on where to send their checks. The report was approved.

New Director: Antonia Ehlers, communications manager for Serra High School, was introduced. Antonia is interested in becoming a board member. The board agreed to place both Antonia and Kristy Blackburn, advisor for the Gunn High School Oracle, on the December ballot. There are two open slots since Jack Russell has agreed to accept Director Emeritus status. We will make that change official at the Annual Meeting.

Town Hall Meeting: Nothing to report.

Professional Development Workshop: Marshall reported that 21 people, mostly working journalists, attended the seminar on city and school district budgets on Nov. 9. It was well-received by all. Darryl has a DVD on the session available to any member who might want one. The board agreed to do another one in the spring, perhaps on math for journalists or public records searches. It was suggested that we get Jim Wagstaffe to do a roundtable on media law as well.

High School Project:Jon suggested that we consider a date in the spring for inviting high school newspaper staffs to gather for critiques. Micki noted that she visited Sequoia High School earlier on that day to critique their paper and offer suggestions on newswriting and design. The group will discuss the best format for those critiques at a future meeting.

Jon also said that he had met with Scott Lawrence of the San Mateo Unified High School District who said he is interested in formulating a journalism program for the entire district. He said he is gathering the advisors from all the schools to form a curriculum council. Jon told them that the Press Club is eager to provide any support they might need. Lawrence said that the council should have something to report in the spring.

Holiday Party and Annual Meeting: The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, at the home of Micki Carter and Mike Venturino, 2303 Wooster Ave., Belmont. E-mail Micki to RSVP.

Dick Fogel Memorial: Melissa and Darryl reported on the memorial for Fogel, the founder of Bay City News. Melissa will send Micki information for the newsletter.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m. in memory of George Golding, a co-founder of the Press Club who died Nov. 14. Services will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday Nov. 21 at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Burlingame.

Respectfully submitted,
Micki Carter
Secretary

Los Gatos-based magazine reports 26% sales growth

ActiveOver50, a Bay Area magazine written for baby boomers and older adults, announced that ad sales revenue grew 26% in 2009 when most publications lost 30% or more. The privately held media company based in Los Gatos said it remains profitable for the third straight year.

Published quarterly, ActiveOver50 magazine said it reaches more than 150,000 older adults in print and online.

"We are a niche, family owned magazine targeting the 50+," said publisher Larry W. Hayes. "The over 50 is the fastest growing demographics in the United States. Over 1.5 million people over age 50 live in the San Francisco Bay Area. If advertisers are not targeting this age group, they should be."

The latest issue of ActiveOver50 features literacy tutor and noted journalist Sandy Reed on the cover. She worked as executive editor for the Mercury News and the Miami Herald and served as editor in chief at Personal Computing and InfoWorld.

Friday, November 20, 2009

AP lays off veteran Michelle Locke

Dozens of UC-Berkeley students occupied a campus office building Friday and thousands demonstrated outside over a student fee hike, but the AP had to cover it without its Berkeley bureau reporter Michelle Locke.

Locke, a 24-year veteran of AP, was laid off this week, according to Erin Carlson of Silicon Valley Insider.

The 8th Ld-writethru of the protest story at 9:29 p.m. Friday had no byline.

AP said it laid off 90 news employees worldwide this week to reach its goal of cutting annual payroll costs by 10%.

Gawker has been putting together a layoff list with tips pouring in from across the country. One Gawker tipster wrote: "The national desk was simply eliminated."

One of Locke's specialties was coverage of the wine industry, and her loss was quickly noted by others.

Band records album in Chron's basement

Baynewser.com's Jason Turbow has a terrific story about a former Chronicle writer, Delfin Vigil, whose band recorded an album in the basement of the newspaper at 5th and Mission streets. Writes Turbow:
    It wasn't so much a company-sanctioned setup as it was that Vigil, looking for a quiet place to work amid the ongoing turmoil, discovered in the basement a back room (used to store book-review books) so isolated that one had to pass through another back room (used to store newspapers) to get to it. Nearby was a bevy of abandoned printing presses and vast rooms used mainly for storing long-forgotten detritus. A perfect place to record rock 'n' roll, soundproofing included. 
    Vigil soon took it upon himself to secret bandmates and instruments into the building on nights and weekends for sessions. His only audience: a janitor, a security guard and book-review editor Oscar Villalon, who happily relinquished sole deed to the space.
Villalon's editor, Joe Brown, was apparently pleased with the band recording in the Chron building, but another editor kicked the musicians out, Baynewser reports.

Vigil's band, Amores Vigilantes, will release the album recorded in the Chron's basement, "West Coast Kingdom," on Dec. 8. The band will be playing in San Francisco at Cafe du Nord on Dec. 17.

“How come you’re cawlin’ a loy-yuh?”

That's the question attorney Len Tillem asks on his top-rated noon-hour show on KGO 810. Andy Altman-Ohr of the J weekly profiled the 65-year-old Sonoma attorney. Turns out that Tillem's sister screens every call, and only articulate people with salacious and interesting sagas make it on air. “I get e-mails how rude she is, which is her job,” Tillem says. “We are not Legal Aid. We are not there to help people on the telephone. We are there to find interesting calls so we can entertain an audience.”

“To this day, I still don’t understand why the show is so popular,” the ever-humble Tillem says. “A lot of people come up to me and try to do the imitation, ‘Why ya cawlin’ a loy-yuh?’ But that’s not it. I think it’s because people like the stories from the callers.”

The K-N-I-G-H-T R-I-D-D-E-R Jumble

What can you spell with the letters KNIGHT RIDDER? That's the idea Merc columnist Mike Cassidy floated in a column about the 27-ton signs that remain atop the 17-story building that used to house the newspaper chain's headquarters in San Jose. Combinations readers suggested included Hit Red Ink, Ink Died, KR Thing Died, Right Nerd Kid, Righted Drink and Dirt Herding.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

KOIT flips to Christmas music, KBAY to wait

KOIT 96.5 flipped to all Christmas music yesterday, an annual tradition for that station. Last year, holiday music gave KOIT enough of a bump that it tied KGO for first place in the November-through-mid-December ratings period for total listeners. KOIT had never tied KGO before. KBAY 94.5 also plans to flip to all Christmas music, but won't make the switch until Thanksgiving eve at 5 p.m.

San Mateo newsman George Golding dies

George E. Golding died Saturday at his home in San Mateo from complications due to a stroke. He was 84.

A resident of San Mateo County since 1956, he was a native of Oakdale, Stanislaus County, and lived most of his life in California. During the Great Depression years, his family moved often, and he attended schools up and down the state. He graduated from grade school in National City, from high school in Petaluma, and from college at San Francisco State University.

Golding was a welder in a Sausalito shipyard early in World War II, briefly joined the maritime service, and served two years in the U.S. Army Air Force as a radar technician for B-29s. He remained in the Air Force Reserves until the Korean conflict, joined a California National Guard unit which was called to duty with the U.S. Army, in which he briefly served. He was honorably discharged and did his duty willingly and without reservation.

By profession a writer, he worked as an advertising salesman for the Riverbank News, as reporter for the San Bernardino Sun, editor of the Gustine Standard, photographer and reporter for the Eureka Times in Eureka, as a stringer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and as reporter, aviation columnist, and sometimes city editor for the San Mateo Times.

He won Associated Press awards for photography, the Catholic Newsmen McQuade Award for reporting, and several aviation and space writers awards for aviation reporting.

He was a founding member of the Peninsula Press Club, where he served as president, treasurer and director.

Golding also served as president of the Tri-County Newspaperman’s Guild. He was a member of the
California Writers Club and the Aviation and Space Writers Association. He was also a member of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church of Burlingame.

In 1995, he and his late wife Joyce Golding published a 200-year history of her mother’s family, called “The Gallaher Trail, an Empire of Cousins,” tracing their origins in Pennsylvania and movement across North America in the first large wagon train to Oregon in 1845. After more than 49 years of marriage, Joyce died in 1997.

Golding, who died Saturday, is survived by Dorothy Freethy, his mate of more than a decade; his children, Earlene Will of Illinois, Brad Golding of San Diego, Dennis Golding of San Luis Obispo, Frank Golding of Boulder Creek, and Chet Golding of Vancouver, Wash. One son, Daniel Golding, died during childhood, in 1960. Golding had eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Angels Church, 1721 Hillside Drive, Burlingame, with a reception to follow.

His favorite charity was the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and donations to it in lieu of flowers are encouraged.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Examiner, MediaNews papers to team up on ads

The Examiner and the Bay Area's MediaNews papers — such as the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, etc. — plan to work together to sell advertising, the Denver Business Journal reports.

The "San Francisco Bay Area Buy," or SFBAB, is an attempt to compete with the Chron. Billionaire Phil Anschutz's Denver-based Clarity Media, owner of the Examiner, says the combined MNG-Examiner buy will reach more readers than the Chron.

Ironically, Hearst, the Chron's owner, also owns 30 percent of MNG's assets outside the Bay Area. A federal judge has barred MNG and Hearst from teaming up in the Bay Area.

"The San Francisco Examiner makes the SFBAB’s geographic coverage complete," Mark Wurzer, chief marketing officer of Clarity Media Group, said in the Examiner statement.

YouTube hopes to help citizen journos


YouTube has launched a new service to help people who want to offer their videos to news organizations. YouTube Direct will provide an easy way for news organizations to collect and broadcast clips that are submitted by the public. The videos would be available on a YouTube page that each media outlet could customize. YouTube will host the video, saving cash-strapped newsrooms the expense of building the infrastructure to store video.

The Chronicle is using the service to solicit video of street performers while the Washington Web site Politico is asking its readers to submit videos responding to a question of the day.

Test of new TV service planned in Bay Area

A new subscription TV service called Sezmi hopes to undercut Comcast in terms of price while integrating Internet programming with broadcast and cable. The Belmont startup has begun a test of its service in Los Angeles and is looking for people in the Bay Area to participate in a pilot here.

The Merc reports that Sezmi's customers will get local broadcast channels via the public airwaves. But the company also relies on those airwaves, via deals with local broadcasters, to send pay-TV channels to its customers. It also plans to send on-demand and Internet programming to consumers via customers' broadband connections.

Merc offering free ads



Not to be outdone by KLIV-AM 1590 (see below), the Mercury News has begun offering free classified ads. "A 3-line ad with one photo runs for 30 days on MercuryNews.com and in the Mercury News itself for FREE," the house ad says. The ad must be for merchandise at $500 or less. Obviously readers are being targeted rather than businesses. Maybe the Merc has offered free ads before, but we've never seen it. And who is the guy in the ad?

DA to probe secret taping of reporters

California Attorney Jerry Brown has asked Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to investigate the secret taping of conversations with reporters by Brown's former communications director, Scott Gerber. O'Malley has accepted the request, Bay City News and others are reporting. Gerber resigned after the secret recordings came to light. The Chronicle determined Gerber had recorded its reporters after he presented the paper's editors with a transcript of an interview to prove he had been misquoted.


Brown's move comes after Steven Baric, the chairman of the California Republican Lawyers Association asked that the district attorneys in both San Francisco and Alameda counties investigate the matter because the secret taping allegedly occurred in Brown's offices in San Francisco and Oakland.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

KLIV 1590 giving away ads to help economy

KLIV-AM 1590, San Jose's news station, is giving away commercials to local businesses in order to help the economy and demonstrate the value of radio advertising. CBS5's Len Ramirez says in this report that the giveaway is almost unheard of in commercial broadcasting.

"All we're saying is call us up and in a very limited amount of time tell us what special thing you have for our listeners during the Christmas selling season," said station owner Bob Kieve. "We want to show those advertisers or those business people that radio, and especially KLIV, are very good advertising media."

Current TV lays off 80, moves production to LA

Current TV laid off 80 workers yesterday and announced it will consolidate its in-house video production in new facilities in Los Angeles. However, production of programs such as "Current Green" and "Current Tech" will remain in San Francisco.

Pink slips went out to workers at Current TV's offices in London, New York, LA and SF.

Programming President David Neuman also resigned.

The changes occurred three months after the privately held network recruited MTV networks president Mark Rosenthal as CEO. Rosenthal succeeded Joel Z. Hyatt, the Atherton businessman who founded the network with former vice president Al Gore.

Current TV executives emphasized that the layoffs aren't due to a lack of money, and they claim that this year will be the 5-year-old company's most profitable year. The network plans to shift away from user-generated content and rely more on traditional 30-minute and 60-minute programming.

The LA Times pointed out that advertisers have shied away from supporting user-generated content online or on TV.

One of Current TV's problems is that it only reaches 55 million homes, far less than other basic cable channels. To many, Current TV is not known for its programming but for its two reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were captured by North Korea in March and released in August with the help of Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In-depth series wins award for college paper

A report about the sentencing of a Skyline College student’s killer and an in-depth series about budget woes captured top writing honors Saturday for student journalists at College of San Mateo.

John Servatius, a senior staff writer for The San Matean, campus newspaper at College of San Mateo, wrote the account about the sentencing in March of a man for the 2006 slaying of Boris Albinder, 19, of Skyline College.

Albinder was slain in an off-campus brawl over a parking space. The defendant, Sarith Soun, 27, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter after conviction in February, Servatius wrote.

“Very strong quotes,” the judges wrote. “Good understanding of the legal system.”
Servatius was awarded first place in Newswriting among 50 entries during the Northern California conference of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges.

The JACC represents nearly every community college journalism program in the state. About 300 students and advisers from 21 colleges attended the all-day conference, which was hosted by the journalism program at San Jose State University and featured workshops and on-the-spot writing and photography contests.

A group of CSM journalism students were among only three colleges honored by the JACC with awards for enterprise or series reporting.

The CSM group received a “Generally Excellent” award for eight stories analyzing economic difficulties impacting the college and college district.

“Solid report — good sourcing,” the judges wrote.

The students working on the months’-long coverage of the budget crisis included Laura Babbitt, Margaret Baum, Erin Browner, Alexa Hemken, Courtney Jamieson, Christine Karavas, Dylan Lewman and John Servatius.

The CSM coverage was selected from among 21 entries submitted in the category by member colleges.

Erin Browner, another CSM journalism student, also garnered an Honorable Mention among 37 entries for her photo of students marching last March in Sacramento to protest budget cuts.

“Professionals handle the judging so these awards, which include comments, are especially relevant for beginning journalists,” said Ed Remitz, CSM journalism adviser. “We are proud of the students and their accomplishments.”

“Awards are great but we remain focused on producing the best work possible for our newspaper and web site,” said Margaret Baum, Editor of The San Matean.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

MNG to test pay wall concept in two small markets

Are newspaper publishers nervous about putting their content behind a pay wall? Rupert Murdoch admitted Wednesday that his plans to charge for online content from the New York Post and other papers he owns are behind schedule.

Now MediaNews Group is saying that it won't try to charge for content until it has tested the concept at two of its smaller papers, the Enterprise-Record in Chico, and the York (Pa.) Daily Record. The two papers will test the concept of charging for content sometime in the first quarter, according to an E&P story.

That suggests the online content of the MediaNews papers in the Bay Area will remain free for several more months.

MNG chief executive Dean Singleton told E&P that an all-pay model is unlikely, and that each newspaper will decide what content it will sell to readers.

"It will not be a cookie-cutter approach," Singleton told E&P's Joe Strupp.

Melissa Jordan leaves Merc for BART

Melissa Jordan has jumped from the post of senior editor for recruiting and training at the Mercury News to BART's senior Web producer. She tells Poynter Online (link to Q&A) that she wanted to try something new. Jordan, who was with AP before the Merc, says she's excited about her new job. Asked by Poynter's Joe Grimm to name something that surprised her about her new job, she replied:
    How great a fit it is for me with the public service mission of transit. I think most people go into journalism because they want to do good in society, make the world a better place -- which you do sort of indirectly, on good days, when a story or investigation or something gets results. 
    In a public-sector setting like transit, you are helping people get around to their jobs and schools and doctors' appointments and day care and entertainment every day, and there's a really direct, rewarding feeling from providing that service to them.
(Photo credit: Poynter Institute)

Energy 92.7's Don Parker lands at CC


Two months after new owners flipped KNGY-FM Energy 92.7's format and fired the station's staff, program director Don Parker has been hired by Clear Channel, Radio Online reports. He's been named operations manager of CC's San Francisco cluster of seven stations including Star 101.3, 98.1 Kiss, KKGN-AM Green 960, 103.7 The Band, KMEL, KNEW-AM 910 and Wild 94.9. Parker's old station, now known as The Rev 92.7, is competing directly against Wild 94.9 in the battle of CHR formats. Before Energy 92.7, Parker was a consultant and has programmed stations in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston. (Photo credit: Radio Online)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scheer: Taping reporter dumb, not illegal

Attorney and journalist Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says the controversy surrounding an attorney general's spokesman recording Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci has been overblown. Scheer said the undisclosed taping of a phone conversation with a journalist is viewed as sleazy and a breach of journalistic protocol, but it is not necessarily illegal, contrary to the assumptions of many journalists. [More]

New WSJ Bay Area edition begins

The Wall Street Journal launched a Bay Area edition today, three weeks after the NY Times started its own Bay Area section.

The Journal had been planning a launch in December or January. But after the Times announced its plans, the Journal moved up its start date. The section will appear once a week on Thursdays for the paper's 92,000 Bay Area subscribers.

The Journal section carried four stories and ads from The Commonwealth Club, Mechanics Bank and Chevron. Stories included U.S. Attorney Joe Russoniello's effort to fight white-collar crime, a Q&A with Google's Eric Schmidt, a report on rising home sales in Atherton, new museums in the Haight and a review of The Little Skillet, a takeout chicken-and-waffle joint in SF's SOMA neighborhood. It's "one of the hottest spots for lunch in San Francisco among start-up hipsters at Twitter Inc and other Internet firms," writes Ben Worthen.

Both the Times and Journal are planning to start local editions in Chicago, and presumably will go on to other cities if the concept succeeds.

Business editor Bob Price retires from KCBS

Bob Price, who has done business reports every half hour at :25 and :55 on KCBS for a a dozen years, retired Friday. He's been at KCBS for the last 24 years of his 40-year career. He covered stories such as the Nixon resignation, the Kent State shootings, the Reagan assassination attempt and the dot-com crash. Here's a link to Stan Bunger's story about Price's last day. Price and wife Betsy O'Connor (formerly of KDFC) plan to do more traveling in their retirement.

Chron switches to glossy paper on Monday

Starting Monday, the Chronicle will start printing high-gloss paper used in magazines, a move that might make the newspaper more attractive to advertisers who want their products to stand out.

Some trade publications such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter print on high-gloss paper, but the Chronicle said it will be the first daily newspaper to use such paper.

A front-page announcement signed by Publisher Frank Vega and Editor Ward Bushee said:
    The introduction of high-definition reproduction, groundbreaking in the newspaper industry, is intended to enhance the experience of reading The Chronicle and better serve our advertisers.

    During the week, the front page, most section fronts and some inside pages will be printed on high-gloss paper, featuring photographs, graphics and advertisements of exceptional clarity and brightness. Glossy pages will also appear in the expanded Thursday entertainment package: Datebook, 96 Hours and the new Ovation section.

    On Sundays, the Main News section, Sporting Green, Style and our award-winning Food & Wine sectionwill feature high-gloss paper.

    Bolder and brighter reproduction is another exciting enhancement to The Chronicle, one of a series of improvements in 2009 that have reshaped the Bay Area's largest newspaper as it looks forward to the future. We hope you enjoy it.
The Chronicle shut down its presses in July and outsourced the work to Transcontinenal, which has built a $200 million, 350,000-square-foot plant at 47540 Kato Road in Freemont. The plant includes heat-set presses that will produce the glossy pages.

The AP quoted industry analyst Ken Doctor as saying the switch is another sign of how newspapers are targeting their print editions at niche markets as their circulation shrinks.

Doctor said the Chron seems to be focusing on older, more affluent readers who would be more likely to appreciate glossy paper. He also said it is an audience prized by advertisers selling luxury products.

Guild hopes to organize freelancers

A new unit of the California Media Workers Guild is forming to support independent writers, editors and journalists of every type. From credentials to benefits, the union hopes to create better working conditions for freelancers.

Potential projects of the member-run freelance unit include:
    • Job-search assistance

    • Bidding for group benefits such as health insurance

    • Support with contract and payment disputes

    • Monitoring legislation to protect the interests of freelancers

    • Resource and referral directories
The new Guild unit is holding its first lunchtime workshop on Friday, Nov. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Guild offices, 433 Natoma St., San Francisco. The topic is writing, publishing and promoting a nonfiction book. Panelists include sports writer Joan Ryan, film critic Mary F. Pols and religion writer Don Lattin. Here's a link with more information.

SFGate celebrates 15th birthday


The folks at SFGate.com are celebrating the Web site's 15th anniversary this week. Above is a page from 1996 when it was known as The Gate. The home page's background was blue during the day and black at night. News Director Vlae Kershner has posted a story about the early days with recollections from SFGate's longest-tenured employee, Chris Hallenbeck.