Chronicle Replaces Paid Journalists With Unpaid 'Luminaries' -- and Craig From Craigslist Posts a Picture of a Bird

Categories: Media
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"Hey, I really want to know what Craig Newmark thinks. Oh. A bird." (Actually, this photo is a lot better than Craig's)
By now, aficionados of San Francisco Web journalism have probably noticed the San Francisco Chronicle's new "City Brights" online feature; a group of "luminaries" who, essentially, blog about whatever they see fit. We're ostensibly supposed to be compelled to read it.

Playing up  the implementation of the unpaid "luminaries" on the very day many of the paper's most veteran staffers were walking out the door for the last time was a particularly leaden touch.

It was also a bit lacking to leave it to "luminary" Peter Y. Sussman to be the one to explain that the paper's special panel of citizen journalists is not getting paid. Sussman is a former 29-year staffer at the Chronicle; his initial post -- in which he compares himself to a scab worker -- is intelligent and well-crafted. But you'd expect this; Sussman is a former standout writer and editor and the Chron is booting out plenty of smart and competent journalists these days. If the paper hopes to create a successful business model based around discharging the lot and impressing them into blogging for free, that might work -- but for that blasted 14th Amendment!

The other "luminaries" write posts of varying worth. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark notes that he's "not so good" a blogger in his first entry (hey, he said it) and goes a long way toward proving this point by merely posting a photo of a bird in his third. What, no cats or desserts or Italian coffee drinks to show us? (Honestly, I am interested in what Newmark thinks -- so this was disappointing). 

Newmark may know what it takes to kill the Chron, but saving it is a more difficult procedure. By the way, I prefer my my ornithological blog snapshots from here: SFCitizen. It's not going to save the Chronicle, but they're damn good photos of birds.

NOTE: Having now been directed to Newmark's bird photography site, I'm even more confused. Lots of these shots are really good! Why not use one of them?

Photo   |    Noël Zia Lee 
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