Chronicle's Rapid Weight Loss: New Paper Is Inch Thinner Than Old

Categories: Media
Yes, today's new Chronicle is more than an inch thinner than its prior incarnation

Of all the many complaints leveled against the San Francisco Chronicle, "It's too darn wrinkly" never came up with us. And still, there was the Chron proudly announcing the dawn of its "wrinkle-free era" today with papers rolling off the billion-dollar (non-union) Transcontinental presses in Fremont.

We have plenty of thoughts, but here are two first and foremost: If any of the Chron's orgiastic coverage of its own doings mentioned that the new papers are noticeably physically smaller, well, it escaped us. In any event, the new-look Chron is 10.5 inches wide; last week's editions were just shy of a foot wide. Papers growing smaller as a cost-saving measure is not an exclusive Chron story -- but it sure feels disingenuous for the paper to tubthump that its new pages have sharper photos, don't wrinkle up, cure eczema, and are a part of this healthy breakfast and not mention this extraordinarily relevant detail.

We were also struck by the contrast between the in-house infomercial running today -- which lacked only a photo of the paper's management glancing stoically upwards toward a rippling flag -- and John Cote's honest, commendable July 5 story. In that article, Cote bothered to quote the union representatives for the 200 printers being shown the door in this cost-saving, contracting move (don't think for a minute this switcheroo was pulled off with you the reader in mind).  Cote also quoted some of the departing printers -- including, poignantly, 51-year-old Bob White, who said his career prospects were dim: "I'm probably going to be serving burgers at the In-N-Out Burger. I'll probably serve you one day and you won't even know it's me. I'm not kidding. There's nothing out there. Maybe they don't want to hire me because I'm 51, but I'll be the fastest burger-flipper in there."

Some other thoughts about the redesign:

  • We don't think it's a coincidence that the paper has apparently chosen this time to launch a weeklong series on fog. While there is no news value here  -- Fog! In San Francisco? -- this conveniently offers the opportunity to run beautiful shots of clouds, bridges, and beams of sunlight that show off the supposedly sharper photos now running in the paper;
  • As the paper's columnists skew older and older, these sharp photos may not be the way to go;
  • Thank goodness our colleague brought the paper to work, because our delivery didn't show up this morning. Apparently, large swaths of the Sunset went Chron-less this morning. Perhaps there are more than a few kinks to work out. Maybe that's why the paper rolled this baby out, inauspiciously, on a Monday;
  • Poor, poor Andy Roddick. I know it has nothing to do with the redesign, but still...
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