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San Francisco Chronicle Chief: Online Journalism Worth Subscribing To; Will Focus Less On South Bay

Our weekly half-hour news interview. On air: Saturdays 5:30 a.m.; Sundays 8:30 a.m., 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- Picking up the morning paper isn't quite the experience it used to be--in terms of heft, anyway.

The changing nature of how people consume news has put some publications on a diet leaving much thinner bundles on our front steps.

But Audrey Cooper, the new editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle--which just recently celebrated its 150th anniversary--contends her paper is still delivering the news, albeit with more online.

Cooper told KCBS In Depth that a thinner paper doesn't necessarily tell the tale of dwindling content.


"SF Gate will always be free—that will never change. right now is a subscriber website. We are increasingly putting more journalism on that site to increase the subscriber benefit to it. We've done really good job of confusing the Bay Area about what these sites are. It's been 20 years of hard work to get there, so it's going to take a little bit of time to convince everybody that this is worth looking at," she said. "But what is so important to me is that we don't do a very good job of explaining that. I have 200 journalists in our newsroom—it is the largest newsroom between the Tehachapi mountain range and Seattle. It is a huge power in this community and in Northern California and if we were somehow to go away, that doesn't get magically replaced by a blog somewhere. We are really foundational to news coverage in this area and we need to tell people that we hope they support us financially for that."

Cooper said she intends to put more resources into covering other parts of the Bay Area, including the North and East Bay--but not, she says, the South Bay.

Cooper says she feels Oakland, Berkeley, and the East Bay have more in common culturally with San Francisco than does San Jose and Silicon Valley.

"I'm not going to say that we will never go back down there. Right now that's not where the bulk of our subscribers are so we certainly cover the South Bay when there are stories there that really resonate for all of us as Bay Area residents," she said.

Cooper says she feels Oakland, Berkeley, and the east bay have more in common culturally with San Francisco than does San Jose and Silicon Valley.

"We're past the time when any outlet probably can cover every city in the Bay Area—and we never did that incidentally in the heyday of the Chronicle either—it's not particularly interesting news, sometimes, and it's not informative to us as a region. I'm looking for the stories that, even if it technically has and Oakland dateline on it—if it happens in Oakland, or if it happens in Vallejo—it should still speak to me as a San Francisco resident because there are things that make us uniquely Bay Arean—if that's a word—and that's really where I want to focus," Cooper said.

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