The Editors Respond

We sent a pre-posting copy of an executive summary of the grades to each Bay Area news organization rated. We specifically sought comment from KRON (Channel 4) KPIX (Channel 5) and KGO (Channel 7) because of the critical nature of the report to their stations.

None of the news directors at the poorly rated stations responded. Three of the four favorably rated news organizations did comment. The San Jose Mercury News failed to respond.

Jerry Roberts, managing editor of the top rated San Francisco Chronicle wrote:  “Thanks very much for a copy of the first study. Very interesting, if only because it backs my contention that you get a different view of the quality of news organizations from actually reading or watching their product than from their popular (or unpopular) image.”

Andrew Finlayson, news director of the top-rated television newscast on KTVU (Channel 2) wrote: “Thank you for your work on this issue.  When your time allows, I would welcome the full report (or instructions on where and when it is posted).”

John Armstrong, Editor and Vice President/News of the Contra Costa Times wrote: “Only one of the CC Times' grades surprised me: the B for local relevance, while the Chron and Merc both got an A in that category.  I'm interested in your criteria for local relevance and, specifically, what definition of "local" you used to measure us.

“We try to customize our content to be relevant to a relatively small universe-- Contra Costa County and parts of Alameda County.  The Chron has a much moreBay Area regional definition of "local," as does the Merc. 

“While I don't know what days you picked, it is inconceivable to me that the Chron would have more news on those days that is relevant to Contra Costa and Alameda counties than we would.  We typically outnumber the Chron 5-to-1 on Contra Costa and Alameda datelines.

“My hope is that you will measure our 'local' relevance based on how well weserve our definition of our 'local' market.  Thanks.”

            Note: Grade the News defines local as occurring within or directly related to the nine-county Bay Area. So grades were based on that regional criterion, not just the East Bay. Perhaps we can look at areas where newspapers’ circulation overlap, measuring “local relevance” more locally. —John McManus

What do you think?