Magazine article Editor & Publisher

How Will 'SF Chron' Cover Bonds' Chase for HR Record?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

How Will 'SF Chron' Cover Bonds' Chase for HR Record?

Article excerpt

As slugger Barry Bonds closes in on Henry Aaron's career home run record this season, no newspaper will have to walk a more careful tightrope of coverage than the San Francisco Chronicle. While nearly all media outlets are approaching Bonds' expected breaking of the 755 record with skepticism given revelations that he used steroids, the Chronicle, which broke the steroid story in 2004, has a greater challenge.

Given that the Chronicle broke the story of Bonds' steroid use with disclosures of leaked grand jury testimony in the BALCO case in which Bonds and other major athletes apparently revealed steroid use, the paper cannot appear to be gloating over the fact that its scoop has tainted the record chase. But the paper also cannot pull back and fail to give the record the proper scrutiny and context.

Either way, editors agree that coverage of the home run chase, which involves arguably the most hallowed record in professional sports, will not include the usual local celebratory approach most often found when a local athlete reaches such a milestone.

"It puts us in an odd position, but you can't ignore the baseball history achievement," said Glenn Schwarz, Chronicle sports editor. "When he passed Babe Ruth [in 2006] we didn't go overboard. But there was big picture on Page One and the sport section was dominated by it."

Still, Schwarz said coverage of Bonds breaking the career home run record this season, which will happen if he hits another 22 dingers, will not approach the attention he received in 2001 when he broke the single-season home run mark with 73 long balls. …

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