What We Learned in 2009: Matier & Ross Read SF Weekly

Categories: Media

A little while ago, Michael Petrelis and another local blogger groused about Chronicle columnists Matier & Ross not giving them credit for stories they broke. I'm sure I speak for veteran alt-weekly scribes everywhere when I say, Welcome to our world!

For decades, daily newspapers have re-written stories that originally appeared in the alternative press without giving credit. Reading Matier & Ross the past few months, it's obvious that practice hasn't gone away. Let me share a few instances where the Chron's political gossips followed up on stories this year that either appeared in SF Weekly or on our news blog without acknowledging who got the scoop.

And we mean that in the best way possible.

A few weeks ago, we broke the news that Carole Migden was not going to run for supervisor. Matier & Ross followed up shortly thereafter with nary a mention of our story (see second-to-last item). The same pattern occured after we wrote about Theresa Sparks preparing to run in District 6 (see M&R item here), and a piece Snitch editor Joe Eskenazi wrote about San Francisco not sending firefighters down to Southern California to help put out wildfires there (M&R followed up five days later).

At least with those stories Matier & Ross didn't take credit for the scoop. They did just that, though, when they claimed they "broke the news" about the city deciding not to immediately impound cars being driven by people, many of them illegal immigrants, without a license. Actually, the Snitch broke that story three weeks earlier. (We also wrote about the controversy over towing the cars of illegal immigrants back in August.)

In a way, I understand why M&R wouldn't give us credit. We're in a competitive business, and who wants to admit they're indulging in sloppy seconds? It's also just typical of how daily newsguys think: Sure, it was written about in the alternative press first, but only a mainstream media organization has the credibility to truly break the story. It's sorta like how Columbus "discovered" America.

Will Harper has been working at alt-weeklies since the mid'-'90s, which is longer than he'd care to admit. He actually likes Matier & Ross' column a lot, although Phil seems like kind of a dick.


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