Breaking News: Ward H. Bushee Replaces Embattled San Francisco Chronicle EIC Phil Bronstein

Categories: Media

pic28580.jpgUPDATE 10:53 a.m.; 01.25.08: We've just been informed that Ward H. Bushee has been named editor in chief and vice president of the San Francisco Chronicle. As foretold, Bushee comes from Gannett Company, having served as editor in chief of The Arizona Republic. Bushee takes over the position Feb. 1. Click "More" for the press release. --ASD Staff Report

WARD H. BUSHEE NAMED EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & EDITOR OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

SAN FRANCISCO, January 25, 2008--Ward H. Bushee has been named executive vice president and editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and will take over the top editor position of Northern California's largest newspaper on February 1. Bushee was previously the editor and vice president of The Arizona Republic, and replaces Phil Bronstein who was named editor-at-large of Hearst Newspapers Division and The Chronicle on January 23.

The announcement was made jointly by Frank J. Vega, president and publisher, The Chronicle, and George B. Irish, president, Hearst Newspapers. The Chronicle is owned by Hearst Corporation.

"Ward brings a wealth of news experience and journalistic vision to The Chronicle team," said Vega. "He has long been recognized as an editor who instills strong journalistic values, integrity and sense of community at the newspapers he leads."

"The journalism community has regarded Ward as among the top newspaper editors in America and we are happy to have him as editor of The Chronicle ," said Irish.

For 21 years, Bushee has been a top editor for Gannett Company, Inc. He was named editor and vice president of The Arizona Republic in November 2002. In that role, he directed the news staff for Arizona's largest newspaper and the 10th largest newspaper in the nation. In the past year, he led the staff in the transformation to an Information Center that delivers news and information to The Arizona Republic, www.azcentral.com, community newspapers and several magazines.

"It is an honor to be coming back to my home area as the editor of the paper that serves the greatest city in the world," said Bushee. "The Chronicle has been my favorite newspaper for as long as I can remember. I have long admired the quality of journalism practiced by its staff and the sense of San Francisco and the Bay Area captured on its pages. I am very excited about the opportunity to lead The Chronicle news staff during this challenging time of transition in the
newspaper industry."

Prior to his post at The Arizona Republic, Bushee had been editor and vice president of The Cincinnati Enquirer, beginning in January 1999. He also had been the top editor for the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal and the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader.

With Gannett, Bushee was named Editor of the Year three times and 11 times won the company's President's Ring, awarded to outstanding top editors. Under his leadership, the Reno Gazette-Journal and The Arizona Republic respectively were honored with Newspaper of the Year awards.

Bushee is a member of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Endowment Board of Trustees at Arizona State University. He serves on the Program Committee for the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He has twice served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes.

Bushee's Gannett career began at The Salinas Californian in 1975 and continued at the Marin Independent Journal. In 1982, he left his native California to be on the start-up staff of USA TODAY.

He graduated from San Diego State University in 1971 with a degree in history. He and his wife, Claudia, have two adult children who live in the Bay Area. Bushee's father was a long-time editor of the Register-Pajaronian in Watsonville, Calif.

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.

UPDATE 6:18 p.m.; 01.24.08: Sources say Hearst Corporation should announce tomorrow a new editor in chief for the San Francisco Chronicle. The big rumor is the EIC will be a "he" and "he" will come from "Gannett." Here's where Gannett's been coming from lately. Such a late Friday announcement would jive with the common public relations practice of burying juicy news at the end of the work week. It bespeaks a hard-earned cynicism about reporters. Usually, we're drunk by then. -Snitch Staff Report

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: Just got off the phone with Henry Ford, Senior Marketing Director for the San Francisco Chronicle re: Phil Bronstein no longer handling day to day operations as Editor In Chief. Ford's the dude the calls go to on this one.

He confirmed:

-- Phil approached his superiors several weeks ago regarding not being EIC.

-- Phil's new "editor-at-large" position is new to the company and the duties aren't set yet. "That'll evolve in the coming days and weeks," he said.

-- Phil will be penning a column(!), and working with marketing on representing the paper to the public. He'll also be working on Hearst special projects possibly involving investigative journalism.

-- Hearst expects to have an announcement on the new EIC, within the next few days.

-- Ford could not elaborate on what it meant by saying the new person will have "deep roots" in the Bay Area.

When asked how the daily paper would change for readers, he basically said it's been a good paper and it's going to stay one. That's it for tonight kiddies. More speculation and snark tomorrow.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Phil asked Hearst to leave the EIC desk, says another Chronicle staffer on background. It's not clear if Phil "saw the writing on the wall" and asked before Hearst was going to ask him.

UPDATE: 4:11 p.m.: From a Chronicle reporter, 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 person 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 announced shortly.

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 changes."

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.


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