Chron Watch: Our Reinventing Journalism and Fortran Coding Department is giddy to learn that the Chronicle’s latest bid at self-preservation will be led by an online piffle peddler fresh from the world of Sofia Vergara’s penis and Kim Kardashian’s ass.
In a news release containing 407 words, none of them “journalism,” the puissant Hearst Corp. announced this week that 43-year old Kristine Shine has been hired as its President-of-the-Month.
She immediately promised to “expand The Chronicle’s footprint and enhance the way we connect to Bay Area residents digitally and in print.” Whatever that means.
Kristine Shine, if that is in fact her real name, comes to the Voice of the West direct from her post as a high-ranking honcho at the high-powered web site “PopSugar,” where a wide-ranging, in-depth investigation of top news stories revealed (honest) these headlines:
“Sofia Vergara to Jimmy Kimmel: ‘My Penis is Bigger Than Yours!’”
“Gwyneth Oversees Her Kids’ Adorable Lemonade Stand”
“Reese Brings Her Bikinis Out in Oahu”
“Speed Read: Kim Kardashian Has a Butt Contest with Her Friend”
Shine’s current employer appears also to harbor an obsession with the hotly talented Jessica Simpson, as Pop Sugar (oy) features at least three breaking stories about the famous-for-being-famous Daisy Duke-wannabe, including “Jessica Simpson’s 2014 Plans: ‘We Need to Get Married!” “Jessica Simpson Has Some Words For Her Weight Critics” and “Jessica Simpson’s Airport Attire? Leather and Fur.”
Surely Michael H. de Young spins swiftly in his grave.
For a mere eight months ago, Hearst similarly announced the arrival as Chronicle President of one Joanne Bradford, also hailed as an online marketing genius – a “digital trailblazer,” the CEO enthused – who vowed “to further the Chronicle’s important role in Northern California by focusing on our audience’s connection with our content and our important relationships with businesses.”
Whatever that means.
More in sorrow than in anger, we note that Bradford, the briefest serving president since William Henry Harrison, promptly bailed from the paper in September. Heckuva’ job, Brady.
Bradford’s way-back appointment came as Hearst, which in a decade of ownership has overseen a collapse of Chron circulation, from more than 500,000 to less than 250K, also named newspaper bean counter Jeff Johnson as publisher.
To his credit, and unlike the digital trailblazer, Johnson seems not to have launched a job search as his first order of business in the new gig; thus, he’s already senior man in the third-floor executive suite as he not only awaits the Jan. 20 arrival of his new cell mate partner, but also probably parses for meaning the slim linguistic differences in the official corporatespeak notices about the papers’ two presidents, past and future, viz.:
Bradford’s release: “Joanne and Jeff will be a great team to take the San Francisco Chronicle to the next level. They have deep publishing and new media experience and believe in the power of great content with a valued brand.”
Shine’s release: “Kristine and Chronicle Publisher Jeff Johnson will be a formidable team to continue enhancing the Bay Area’s experience with the Chronicle and SF Gate brands.”
While some stuck-in-the-past grouches may ask, “brand of what?” – we are not among them – Calbuzz awaits investigation of apparent self-plagiarism on the part of New York-based Hearst flacks by the Ethics Committee of the Public Relations Society of America.
As Audrey’s World Turns: Word on the street, as Matier and Ross might say, is that Audrey Cooper, our favorite editrix and empress of all she surveys at Fifth and Mish, starred at a command performance, all-hands-on-deck staff meeting this week, to let the working stiffs know what’s in store under the new world order.
The big reveal was that editorial types are hereby required to sit still for two months of political re-education camp classes in using social media and figuring out if anyone with a pulse actually is reading their stories. Attendance will be taken.
The announcement was a surprise to exactly no one, given that somebody (we name no names) leaked word the day before to the digital news site Mashable, which characterized the plan as “social media boot camp” for a post in which the Coop rather grandly expounded:
“The approach is novel for newspapers,” says Cooper. “It physically removes reporters from the traditional newsroom and gives them new digital metrics, such as engagement time, to judge whether their stories have reached our core audience. We also plan to use real-time monitoring of the clicks we get from social media and other referral sites, including LinkedIn, Pinterest and Reddit.”
Lock up the kids, Maude, the Chron’s schoolin’ its reporters about Facebook and click bait. “Novel”? Really? We swear we’ve heard of one or two other papers with web sites that feature the whole, new fangled, deadline-every-second, multimedia, multiplatform, social media thing. Wait a minute – aren’t some of digital reporting’s top pros already on the Chronicle?
Perlman gains on Methuselah: It’s a sad irony that the day before Chroniclers learned they now work for a “digital product with a print component,” the great S.F. newspaperman and venerated science writer Dave Perlman was feted by colleagues, at old-school John’s Grill, on the occasion of his 95th birthday.
Perlman, who made his bones with on-the-scene coverage the day Newton
dropped got beaned with the apple, is simply a wonder, his extraordinary career aptly celebrated in many publications other than his own. He’s vowed to keep working “till I drop dead at my desk – unless the paper dies first.” (Hmm).
Decade after decade, Dr. Dave keeps churning out interesting, informative and important stories from his back-of-the-newsroom cubicle, cluttered with piles of obscure medical journals and thank you scrolls from Archimedes, Galileo and Philo of Byzantium. Retired co-workers long ago lost track of how many lifetime achievement awards he’s won, but still look forward to his yarns, like those on Fukushima radiation levels, Mountain Lake pond turtles and a weird flap over a San Diego dinosaur fossil auction, all of which he reported and wrote in recent weeks. No word yet on Pinterest clicks.
In the interest of full disclosure, we join those honoring Perlman on his 95th by recalling that he once gave a big boost to the career of at least half of us, when he was Chronicle city editor and conscripted us to cover Sacramento, a personnel move that guaranteed the world would someday be blessed with the gift of Calbuzz. You could look it up.
P.S. We hear Chron suits are rolling back many of the changes they’d planned for the paper’s beloved Food Section, in considerable part, we expect, because of public outrage over the move.