Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Phil Bronstein Leaving as 'S.F. Chronicle' Editor

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Phil Bronstein Leaving as 'S.F. Chronicle' Editor

Article excerpt

Phil Bronstein is stepping down as editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

In its announcement, Hearst said Bronstein is leaving day-to-day responsibility to take on "broader strategic responsibilities at the paper and for its owner, Hearst Corporation," the company said.

Bronstein told E&P that his replacement had already selected, but he wasn't saying who it is.

"I'd expect an announcement in the next couple of days," he said. Sfgate.com quoted him as telling the newsroom the new editor had "deep roots in the Bay Area."

Bronstein presided over the Examiner and Chronicle newsrooms at a time of unusual tumult in the city, in the newspapers themselves, and in the industry. And like other big-city newspaper editors, he's seen his newsroom shrink. Last year, the paper cut 90 of its 400 newsroom jobs.

"At times, what happens in this city is like the plagues of Egypt," he said. "It wasn't just the earthquakes and the fires, there were the trial, and mergers, and sales, and acquisitions and strikes. I'm an adrenaline junkie -- but even adrenaline junkies have to take a break some time."

In an interview late Thursday, Bronstein said he began thinking about leaving the editor post during the stresses of the newspaper's investigation into the Balco steroid scandal. Federal prosecutors threatened Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada with jail for refusing to identify who leaked grand jury testimony linking pro athletes such as Barry Bonds to steroid use. Last February, prosecutors dropped the charge when a former Balco attorney admitted being the source of the leak.

"I've been thinking about it for a while," he said. "The two years of Balco was one of the triggers. That was such an epic battle over big issues with the federal government. Hearst stood by us ... and we were able to prevail."

Bronstein is the second major newspaper editor to announce a departure this week. Los Angeles Times Editor Jim O'Shea said Monday he had been fired for refusing to implement newsroom budget cuts in a presidential election and Olympics year. In recent months, several high-profile editors have also left their long-time posts.

So where, E&P asked Bronstein, is he on the continuum of editor departures?

"On the continuum, I'm between the guy who's the editor of the day at the Los Angeles Times, and the guy you've gotta shovel out of the his seat after 50 years," Bronstein said with a laugh. …

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