The Chron’s New, Old Journalism

In this dog-eat-dog, daily-newspaper-devouring media landscape, the venerable San Francisco Chronicle is looking to its past for inspiration. Evoking the spirit of William Randolph Hearst, Executive VP and Editor Phil Bronstein rallied his troops this morning around his new, community-oriented vision for the paper, insiders say.

After slimming down the staff through recent buyouts and layoffs, the paper, Bronstein reportedly told his people, will no longer be serving up “buffet style” journalism — simply trying to cover everything that goes on in the region.

Details are a little vague, but essentially the new slogan is: “Journalism of Action.” Call it the ChronicleWatch-ification of the Chron: Bronstein reportedly envisions a paper whose staff will not simply report, but seek to effect positive change in the community and drive public policy.

In addition, the editor, who did not return phone calls today, reportedly told his staff that the Chronicle would focus on a handful of “master narratives.” He noted five, four of which were local politics, green living, real estate, and technology.

Most reporters and editors contacted would not immediately speak on the record, but tech writer Tom Abate, who attended the meeting, described Bronstein’s goal as taking the paper “back to the future,” bringing journalism back to it’s historic roots of being useful to people. The Internet, Abate says, would be central to this goal.

Yeah, what else is new. — Eric Klein

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