Evaluating print and broadcast news in the San Francisco Bay Area from A to F.



Newer stories are found on the home page

October 2005

Chronicle salutes "Angels."
Guest commentary

Chronicle: Shilling for militarism

As I write this missive, one or more Navy jets are thundering around and through my neighborhood, at the western foot of San Francisco's Russian Hill.
I'm irritated. And I'm one of the lucky ones, compared to anyone who's seen and heard war planes from the business end. The F-18 Hornet the Blue Angels fly is used to drop bombs and fire rockets at targets in densely populated urban areas in Iraq, killing resistance fighters and nearby civilians alike -- something neither the Chronicle nor the TV reporters mentioned. Read more

By Richard Knee
Posted Oct. 10, 2005
Philip Meyer
Guest commentary: Responding to Alexander

Newspapers can't maintain monopoly profits because they've lost their monopolies

'Newspapers are stuck in the old hunter-gatherer model of journalism'

A historical view of newspapers suggests that they can't continue to milk the profits from a failing business model much longer. Those profits were made possible by local monopolies that no longer exist. While quality pays, it's uncertain that adding journalistic strength to the newsroom will be enough to save the old business model. In fact, quality journalism should begin to look for a new home. Read more

By Philip Meyer
Posted Oct. 3, 2005

September 2005

Guest commentary

Humbler profits won't encourage buyouts

Newspapers earn more than other industries, can afford to boost quality

Analyst John Morton says modest investments in news quality won't put corporations at risk of hostile takeovers. Former San Jose Mercury News ad executive Lou Alexander has overestimated the danger of lowering profit margins. Read more

By John Morton
Posted Sept. 29, 2005
Mr. Alexander responds

News corporations may no longer be so resistant to take-overs

Posted Sept. 30, 2005
Stephen Lacy
Guest commentary

Newspapers can't cut their way back into Wall Street investors' hearts

Media economics professor responds to Alexander

Cutting staff to please Wall Street's demands for profits in the mid-20% is a dangerous short-term strategy for newspapers, says Michigan State University media economics professor Stephen Lacy. Read more

By Stephen R. Lacy
Posted Sept. 28, 2005
Mr. Alexander responds

Quality of journalism may not help circulation

Posted Sept. 30, 2005

Mercury News plans to shrink newsroom by 52 jobs

Capping a week of deep cuts across the newspaper industry, the San Jose Mercury News said Friday that it would offer buyouts to 60 employees, including 52 in the newsroom. If too few apply for buyouts, layoffs are possible. The paper's top editor says the newsroom will have to be reorganized, but quality journalism will survive. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted Sept. 24, 2005

Unintended consequences of Craigslist and other Web classifieds

When Craig Newmark launched Craigslist, the last thing he intended was to deprive metro newspapers of reporting resources. He saw it as using new technology to provide a public service. But his enormously popular Internet sites, and other Web-based classified ad services, are part of the reason newspapers are buying out and laying off reporters and editors. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Sept. 23, 2005

Union files grievance over Chronicle job losses

UPDATE: The union has filed two grievances against the San Francisco Chronicle's management based on the inability of staff to reconsider buyout applications and the threat of as many as 30 involuntary layoffs. Read the memo

Posted Sept. 20, 2005
Lou Alexander
Guest commentary

Newspaper critics don't understand the business

Retired San Jose Mercury News ad director Lou Alexander says newspapers can't plow money into journalism at the expense of shareholders. And those who predict a rosy future for newspapers don't understand the business. And journalism professors should quit whining. Read more

By Lou Alexander
Posted Sept. 20, 2005

Rancor plagues Chronicle employee buyouts

About 120 San Francisco Chronicle employees, including several of the paper's well-known veteran journalists, have been or are soon to be told that they must leave -- even though many thought they had time to reconsider their earlier applications for an employee-buyout option. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted Sept. 16, 2005
Paying homage to advertisers.

SF Examiner and Independent agree to end payola restaurant reviews

After San Francisco Examiner and Independent restaurant columnist George Habit told Grade the News he is really an ad salesman who uses the column to reward advertisers and solicit ads from eateries, the newspapers have decided to label the column as advertising. Mr. Habit described how payola works in the news business. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Sept. 13, 2005
SF Chronicle photo by Michael Macor

Will the quality of journalism recede with Katrina's floodwaters?

News media in the Bay Area and elsewhere did a powerful job, in very difficult circumstances, bringing us a vivid picture of hurricane Katrina's strike on the Gulf Coast. They also showed spunk and independence questioning the happy talk of slow-responding federal officials. But as the flood of public attention recedes, so too may socially responsible journalism. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Sept. 6, 2005


August 2005

Free papers' articles end where traditional newspaper stories are just warming up.
Second of three articles

Free papers: more local but often superficial

Giveaways cover communities ignored by the metros, but are thin on sources and context

Free newspapers in the Bay Area promise something for nothing: news of government meetings, events, accidents, crime and business deals. In San Mateo County, wedged between giant newspapers in San Francisco and San Jose, they're bringing unprecedented competition for news. But a review of local stories in the three free tabloids that intersect in the county indicates the free alternatives are sacrificing depth for breadth compared with traditional paid papers. With inexperienced, underpaid reporters writing short stories with few sources and little initiative, the free papers are leading some sources of news wonder whether readers would be better off without them. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted Aug. 23, 2005

July 2005

The Examiner gets advertisers to write advice columns.
First of three articles

At free dailies, advertisers sometimes call the shots

News blends with ads, and the wealthy come first for home delivery

Of the three major free tabloid-size daily newspapers that have arisen in the Bay Area in the last decade, two, the San Francisco Examiner and the Palo Alto Daily News, allow advertisers to determine some journalistic content and distribution. Advertisers or ad reps are writing news, and journalists are doing promotional stories that read like ads. While both papers were acquired by established corporate interests in the last two years, that hasn't put an end to such practices. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted July 27, 2005

Chronicle to cut 13% of Guild jobs

In weak bargaining position, union accepts reductions but wants to protect senior employees from layoffs

With both the union representing journalists and management at the San Francisco Chronicle agreeing that an imminent workforce reduction is inevitable, the union is trying to fend off a proposal to allow layoffs regardless of seniority. While management wants to take away some vacation, sick pay and pension benefits, and other Guild members face steep cuts in pay, the union says it is trying to avoid a strike. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted July 19, 2005

June 2005


Is public broadcasting obsolete?

After hearing from the public, Congress has restored the $100 million House Republicans wanted to cut from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But conservatives still claim cable television and the Internet have eliminated the need for taxpayer support for public broadcasting. Are National Public Radio and PBS obsolete? Or are commercial news outlets now so market-driven that PBS is more unique and valuable to citizens than ever? Read more

By John McManus
Posted June 30, 2005
The inspiration.

The free tabloid that wasn't: East Bay's aborted Daily Flash

The Alameda Newspaper Group, like many media companies, was working on a plan to launch an innovative free daily tabloid newspaper -- at least before Knight Ridder beat it to the punch. Newspaper editors disagree about whether such papers are the wave of the future or a passing fad. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted June 23, 2005

Tight budgets reduce ethnic diversity at Bay Area newspapers

Editors of the Bay Area's largest newspapers say tight budgets are making it difficult to replace minority journalists who leave. The result: Most Bay Area newspapers are becoming less diverse than they were several years ago. Read more

By John McManus
Posted June 10, 2005

Looking deeper:

Visibility and invisibility of youth, youth policy and race in the San Jose Mercury News

Youths scrutinized the
Mercury News.

By invitation of the Mercury News, two youth advocacy projects did a media content analysis of the the paper's coverage of youth and youth policy. Among the findings: Youth are "not branded by loaded language or images," but also, focus "is on incidents and individuals, not youth policy." Read more

From: Youth Media Council, May 20, 2005
Posted June 10, 2005
Geneva Overholser

Finger-lickin' front page news

Two nationally respected former editors assess the San Jose Mercury News’ front page preference for covering the finger in the chili bowl rather than national and international news such as the war in Iraq and the efforts of the Republican majority in Washington to reshape government.

William Woo

“We all know why papers are doing this: they are losing readers, and they believe that 'softer' and more engaging stories might bring in new readers -- younger readers, especially” says Geneva Overholser, former editor of the Des Moines Register.

William Woo, former editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, says: “As a former newspaper editor, I may be more sympathetic to the Mercury News than some others, and I certainly acknowledge the seductive power of certain stories that seem to take on a life of their own.” Read more

Posted June 8, 2005

May 2005

Tax push catches freelancers by surprise

In a climate of government cutbacks, scores of California cities are cracking down on independent writers, editors and other media workers to extract back business taxes -- money that many freelancers never imagined they owed. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted May 27, 2005
Originally published in MediaFile by Media Alliance

Media reform advances nationally

Community monitoring projects connect at gathering in St. Louis

The National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis last weekend drew thousands of academics, activists and media makers from around the United States. Conferees advanced three key areas of media reform: monitoring, advocacy and independent media. Read More

By Michael Stoll
Posted May 20, 2005

Young people abandon news at their peril

When the 'Daily Show' becomes the primary source of news

Jon Stewart

What does it say about journalism when intelligent people claim a program that prides itself as “fake news” is their primary source of information about current events? Read more

By John McManus
Posted May 18, 2005



Giving readers the finger

Anna Ayala

If you rely on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News to keep abreast of the world, chances are good that you know plenty about a finger turning up in a bowl of Wendy’s chili in March.

But almost nothing of what's going on in the nation or abroad. While the finger got front page play 11 times from when the story broke to the weekend following Ms. Ayala's arrest for what police are calling a hoax, the war in Iraq merited only one cover story. But that's one more than a sample of major stories that got repeated front page play in the New York Times and other Bay Area newspapers.

Why was a 1.5 inch finger tip judged so much more newsworthy than events that are reshaping the nation and the world? Read more

By John McManus
Posted May 5, 2005
SPJ Ethics Week salon

Bottom-line pressures erode local print and broadcast journalism

Greg Lyon, formerly of KRON Channel 4

Greg Lyon and Sean Holstege, two distinguished Bay Area journalists, discuss how profit pressures have affected the quality of news.

KRON and ANG respond.

Read more

By John McManus
Posted May 1, 2005

April 2005

From April's Quill Magazine

Downward spiral

Many journalists say media’s duties, ethics are sliding in order to conform to the company’s bottom line

Corporate executives trying to maintain the extraordinary profits of a less competitive age are downsizing or freezing staffs and conjuring new advertising-friendly synergies across all media. News workers nationwide report that these changes degrade the quality of their work and sap their desire to stay in journalism. Read more from Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists.

By Michael Stoll and John McManus
Posted April 13, 2005

February 2005

Report card

Bay Area newspapers chose more trivial stories, but still beat local newscasts, 2003-04 grades show

Print outperforms TV news even accounting for newscasts' time limitations

Don't miss our animated evaluation of Bay Area news outlets.

Local newspapers that once derided the story selection of local television have begun to emulate it. Three papers' grades went down in our annual content analysis, which included 2,500 stories from the region's eight most popular daily news media. Some TV stations improved, particularly on our measure of fairness. Read more ... then check out the grades for each newsroom.

By Michael Stoll and John McManus
Posted Feb. 1, 2005

January 2004

Investigative reporter Bergman, others, honored with freedom of information awards

The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, honors Lowell Bergman, best known for his landmark investigation of the tobacco industry, with a career achievement award. It also names its educator award after the late Beverly Kees, former chapter president. They and 12 other recpients will be feted on March 16 in San Francisco. Read more

Source: SPJ NorCal
Posted Jan. 31, 2005
Guest commentary

The College Board's new math, and how it confounded the newspapers

A change in reporting method on the Advanced Placement test caused many newsrooms, including the Bay Area's three most-read papers, to misconstrue the meanings of the scores. Read more

By Patrick Mattimore
Posted Jan. 31, 2005

This wolf call is real

Newspapers have been crying "wolf" at least since the 1930s when they tried to persuade the government to block radio stations from carrying any news. But now the wolf really is at the door. Or wolves. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Jan. 24, 2005
Nieman Reports asks: Can journalism survive in this era of punditry and attitude?

Symptoms of underlying stress in journalism

Punditry and attitude are more symptoms than causes of changes in American journalism. Think of them as signs of stress, foreshocks, as more powerful forces interact under the surface due to transformations in the technology of news distribution and, with this, the economics of journalism. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Jan. 18, 2005
Guest commentary

Web page views play big role in editors' news judgment

Pop culture, sex, local crime, weather and pro sports. Those topics have long dominated the Internet. But now news organizations, which previously had few tools to measure reader behavior directly, are starting to augment their journalistic instincts with Web metrics. Vlae Kershner, director of the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site, SFgate.com, argues that's not all bad -- as long as light stories draw readers to the heavy stuff, and not vice versa. Read more

By Vlae Kershner
Posted Jan. 10, 2005

Sales pitches overwhelm democratic debate

Advertising about California propositions eclipses local TV reporting

In the month before the election, ads about state propositions took up nearly twice as much airtime during newscasts as reporting on those issues, a Grade the News analysis shows. In California, critics argue, deep-pocketed partisans, not journalists, framed the political debate. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted Jan. 6, 2005


December 2004


Two years with the Petersons

Spectators react to Peterson death sentence.

Christmas Eve marks the end of two years during which Laci and Scott Peterson have been the most reported story in Bay Area journalism. What a long, strange trip it's been!

The Peterson saga is more important for what it says about the quality of news than about the sorry life a Modesto fertilizer salesman. Taking a cue from entertainment television, newsrooms created their own reality soap opera. This month, Scott was finally voted of the planet. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Dec. 23, 2004
Guest commentary

Media’s election failure

Coverage of ‘minor’ candidates: If you blinked, you missed it

Richard Knee

Editors routinely argue that because “minor” party candidates have virtually no chance of winning, giving them much attention wastes their reporting resources as well as their news space or air time.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that limits our political options. What the media don’t report can be just as important to their readers, viewers or listeners as what they do report. Read more

By Richard Knee
Posted Dec. 21, 2004
Make the call

Should the San Francisco Chronicle have published leaked testimony from the secret BALCO grand jury inquiry?

The sports doping scandal splashed onto the front page of the Chronicle in a big way last week when someone leaked grand jury proceedings to a reporter. While the paper maintains the public has a right to know the details of the case, including sports celebrities' medical histories, some legal scholars and journalists object. They say the legal system shouldn't be defied unless the press can demonstrate the public good exceeds the harm. Read two opposing arguments and then participate in our on-line straw poll

Posted Dec. 14, 2004
On the radio

Newspapers' future in the Internet era

A spirited hour-long discussion by four Bay Area journalists on KALW-FM public affairs program "City Visions." With Dan Gillmor, former business and technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury News; Kevin Keane, vice president and executive editor of ANG Newspapers (including the Oakland Tribune); Robert Rosenthal, managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle; and John McManus, director, Grade the News. Listen to the program in MP3 format

Link to KALW via ParMedia.org
Posted Dec. 14, 2004

November 2004


Falluja is captured and the Mercury News is captivated

Although U.S. Marines were storming Falluja and the northern two-thirds of Iraq was aflame with insurrection, the San Jose Mercury News spent the top of its front page on both Saturday and Sunday on the fate of one man from Modesto. Was it responsible journalism or licking the spoon of an exhausted story? Read more

By John McManus
Posted Nov. 16, 2004

Conservative Christianity's higher profile in politics spells trouble for journalism

The answer to the question "What happened to the Democrats on Election Day?" seems to be that they got Bushwhacked by conservative Christians voting on "moral values."
If true, it's not a hopeful omen for journalism. To the extent that religion and politics mix, socially responsible news may be in for a difficult four years. That's because the premises of empirical, authority-questioning, diversity-honoring journalism are so at odds with the values of many conservative Christians -- belief above logic and evidence, respect for higher authority, obedience to church leaders, moral and immoral gender roles, etc. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Nov. 5, 2004
Guest commentary

Democracy fails: Corporations win

Prof. Peter Phillips

Democracy in the United States is only a shadow in a corporate media cave of deceit, lies and incomplete information. We stand ignorant of what the powerful are doing in our name and how the corporate media ignores key issues affecting us all. Read more

By Peter Phillips
Director of Project Censored at CSU-Sonoma
Posted Nov. 4, 2004
Campaign watch

Local TV campaign coverage falls following debates; newspapers surge

KGO Channel 7 interviews undecideds.
The election may be over, but Grade the News' rolling analysis of the fall 2004 elections continues. We found that TV coverage of politics fell in the week ending Oct. 23. Meanwhile, newspapers picked up the pace of coverage with extensive local reporting that no TV station even attempted. KNTV Channel 11 led in TV in reporting on issues. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Analysis by John McManus and Kate Davidson
Posted Nov. 2, 2004


October 2004



Knight Ridder misreads its own polls

What's wrong with this headline?

A Knight Ridder story carried prominently in the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times last Thursday stated that President Bush had a lead in seven swing states. But the margins of error in three of those state polls made it impossible to tell who was ahead. Some journalists are ignoring the difference between a survey result -- an estimate of population preferences -- and the actual preferences of likely voters. Read more

Mercury News responds Oct. 28, 2004

By John McManus
Posted Oct. 27, 2004
Campaign watch

Channel 11, Mercury News lead in Bay Area coverage

Horse-race coverage puts blinders on voters.

We're seeing much more campaign news -- and more of it focusing on local and state races -- than we did before the March 2 elections in California. KNTV Channel 11 and the San Jose Mercury News have so far been leaders in highlighting congressional, legislative, regional and municipal contests. Many, but not all, news outlets have also reduced reliance on the "horse-race" variety of coverage, which doesn't help voters make decisions when they go into the voting booth. Read more Also see "Trendspotting": ad watch, political polling, sourcing, sound bites and more.

By Michael Stoll
Analysis by John McManus and Kate Davidson
Posted Oct. 22, 2004
Campaign watch

Debates eclipse local, state races

Coverage in the Bay Area has remained focused on the presidential contest, but some newsrooms are doing innovative reporting on local and California issues. Now through Election Day, Nov. 2, read our regular updates to find out how well the Bay Area's most popular news media are covering the elections. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Analysis by John McManus and Kate Davidson
Posted Oct. 13, 2004

Selling Credibility

The Gallup Poll recently reported that fewer Americans trust the news media than at any time since Gallup began asking the question in the 1970s.
No one really knows why, but one reason may be the growing gap between the public service journalism proclaims as its purpose and the pursuit of whatever sells in the marketplace. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Oct. 8, 2004

September 2004

Help us hold local television stations accountable

(Image courtesy of Media Alliance.)

Please help us reinvigorate public service on the public's television air waves.
A coalition of civic groups, including Common Cause, Bay Area chapters of the League of Women Voters, Media Alliance, Grade the News and students at several local universities are joining in an effort to monitor how well local TV stations are covering the candidates and issues we need to know before casting a ballot on Nov. 2. We need volunteers to monitor local newscasts. Read more

Posted Sept. 29, 2004

Blogs as journalism's not-so-evil twin

New Internet technologies such as blogs, syndication and aggregation are emerging as powerful forces in online journalism. So far, only the early adopters use them regularly, but as the CBS News Bush memos case demonstrates, the Web can muster a lot of brainpower in very little time -- and that can only help professional reporters and editors do their jobs better, said speakers Tuesday at a meeting of the Online News Association. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted Sept. 22, 2004

No easy answers on journalists giving to campaigns

Rogers, Cavagnaro and Jones

If a journalist sends in a check to a politician, is that a breach of trust with the reader? Dick Rogers, the San Francisco Chronicle's reader representative, thinks so. Ed Cavagnaro of KCBS said reporters can give to whomever they want -- but they wouldn't get to cover the object of their largesse. Steve Jones of the Bay Guardian agrees, but says this is all a "silly side issue," since donations and lobbying by corporate news executives and owners have far more political influence. They gathered in San Francisco Tuesday for a talk. Read more

By Michael Stoll
Posted Sept. 16, 2004

To cut costs, Contra Costa Times, Mercury News will merge sports coverage

The Bay Area's two Knight Ridder-owned newspapers have announced a further merger of reporting. So far they have found synergies in coverage of state government stories in Sacramento, the Scott Peterson murder trial and some sports. Next year that process will expand to eliminate "duplicate" coverage of the 49ers, Giants, Raiders and A's. No sports writers will be laid off, says the Times. Read more

Memos from the editors to the staffs of the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News
Posted Sept. 15, 2004

Chronicle, Mercury News win multiple journalism honors

Two reporters, one at the San Jose Mercury News and another at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, both investigating aspects of the California justice system, have been recognized with top prizes in the Excellence in Journalism Awards from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The Chronicle won six awards, the most of any news organization. Grade the News won in the category of on-line opinion. Read more

Source: Northern California chapter, Society of Professional Journalists
Posted Sept. 13, 2004

Business unusual

David Lazarus

David Lazarus has ruffled more than his share of feathers in the business world in his five years at the San Francisco Chronicle. The self-described investigative business columnist writes a thrice-weekly column that aspires to stand up for consumers and employees against the ills of "corporate thuggery and corporate arrogance." Mr. Lazarus has won prizes for his coverage of the California energy crisis and tobacco. How? By focusing on the big stories, and by being unafraid to question authority. Read more, or listen to the entire audio interview (mp3 streaming)

By Michael Stoll
Posted Sept. 10, 2004

Why no news is big news

Playing to public fears about a senseless North Coast killing may backfire.

The Chronicle milks a tragedy for more than it's worth.

When there's nothing new to report on a story, why would news executives place it in the most prominent spot in the paper?
Despite a lack of developments in the mystifying beachfront slaying of a Midwest couple two weeks ago, the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle replayed the story, positioning the headline so it fit neatly in the window of news vending boxes on the Sonoma coast, where fear runs high.
Manipulating the public's emotions may sell an extra press run, but it also illustrates a conflict of interest between public service and private profit that plagues contemporary journalism. Read more

By John McManus
Posted Sept. 1, 2004


August 2004

Commentary: Now is the time for all good journalism teachers and students to come to the aid of their field

Posted August 27, 2004

Guest commentary: Sunshine, not censorship, will make the news media accountable -- Josh Wilson

Posted Aug. 23, 2004

Commentary: a grateful letter to the Mercury News -- It wasn't 'peeping Tom' journalism, was it? -- John Q. Public

Posted Aug. 19, 2004

When it's free speech for journalists vs. free press for owners, law is less than settled

Posted Aug. 11, 2004

Bay Area papers accused of rigging 'best-of' survey to favor advertisers

Posted Aug. 5, 2004

Interview: Hendrik Hertzberg on media and politics -- John McManus guest hosts KQED Radio's "Forum" (aired 8/5/04)

Posted Aug. 5, 2004

Guest commentary: Are new media polarizing American politics? -- Dan Schnur

Posted Aug. 2, 2004

July 2004

Chronicle reassigns letters editor: Now working sports copy desk; status unsettled, says Guild

Posted July 30, 2004

Commentary: Why would FCC Chairman Powell skip his own hearing? Listen to this commentary on KQED-FM "Perspectives" (aired 7/30/04)

Posted July 30, 2004

What we learned in Monterey: FCC localism inquiry met with cornucopia of critiques, reform ideas

Posted July 28, 2004

Make the call: Should journalists be allowed to contribute to political campaigns?

Posted July 23, 2004

Analysis: Citizen audit of localness of local TV news

Posted July 21, 2004
Updated Aug. 11, 2004

Political gifts earn Bay Area journalists praise, punishment; Chronicle puts letters editor on leave for nearly $1,000 in contributions

Posted July 20, 2004

For Bay Area broadcasts, most politics is not local: the FCC in Monterey

Posted July 18, 2004

Latina journalist offers career tips to reporters of color: Elizabeth Llorente. From News Watch

Posted July 13, 2004

Analysis: Bay Area press offers enlightened coverage of Muslims

Posted July 7, 2004

Analyze local TV news and we'll help you tell the FCC what you find News scorecard and instructions.

Posted July 1, 2004

June 2004

Soundbites, endorsements leave little room for the issues

Posted June 29, 2004

Guest commentary: 'Fahrenheit 9/11' -- New film shows what news media were afraid to Robert C. Cuddy

Posted June 28, 2004

Commentary: Balancing the commercial appeal of the Peterson trial with other news

Posted June 23, 2004

Guest commentary: Open up government to more public inspection -- Richard Knee

Posted June 22, 2004

2 papers claim same reporters as their own: Mercury News, Contra Costa Times merged operations in Sacramento.

Posted June 17, 2004

Commentary: Leave canonization to Rome

Posted June 16, 2004

Bay Area papers go all-out for Reagan

Posted June 9, 2004

Guest commentary: The public as addict, the media as pusher -- Patrick Mattimore

Posted June 4, 2004

Make the call: Which is the day's most important story? Hint: not the Peterson trial.

Plus, how Bay Area and state newspapers allocated scarce front-page space.)

Posted June 2, 2004

Grade the News advisor Ned Schnurman dies

Posted June 1, 2004

Commentary: An open letter to journalism graduates and faculty members -- At first, you can't lose by going into journalism

Posted June 1, 2004

May 2004

Make the call: Scooping your own newsroom: Should the editorial page conduct investigative reporting?

Posted May 26, 2004

Guest commentary: The least newsworthy stories of the year (Project Censored)

Posted May 25, 2004

Bagdikian: A new political twist to the old media monopoly (The New Media Monopoly)

Posted May 21, 2004

Guest commentary: Getting ahead of the news (Chronicle story about UC admissions) -- Patrick Mattimore

Posted May 20, 2004

Remnick: Blame profit-seeking news media, apathetic public for poor foreign reporting

Posted May 19, 2004

Don't blame the people; Stanford Prof. Kennedy rebuts Remnick

Posted May 19, 2004

Diversity in TV, radio slipping: Bay Area newspapers nowhere near as diverse as the population

Posted May 17, 2004

Commentary: Skin-deep journalism (Chronicle's "Porn 101" not newsworthy)

The Chronicle responds: Feature section stories need not be important, just compelling

Posted May 14, 2004

Political candidates' handlers outfoxing journalists (Stanford professors discuss political reporting)

Posted May 11, 2004

Guest commentary: All the news that's fit to sell -- Tony Seton

Posted May 10, 2004

Activists aim to limit reach of monopoly media (McChesney and Mander speak in Berkekey)

Posted May 6, 2004

Celebrity appeal pumps up capital press corps; Reporters came for the star, but many stay for the substance

Posted May 3, 2004

April 2004

Commentary: Who did more harm, Jayson Blair or San Francisco's local television news directors?

Posted April 28, 2004

Chronicle, biotech columnist wrestle with conflict of interest; Duncan reassessing Chronicle column, role with BioAgenda

Posted April 27, 2004

Commentary: When journalism becomes hero worship

Posted April 21, 2004

Oakland Tribune pledges end to deceptive 'advertorials'

Posted April 15, 2004

Chronicle columnist's biotech side job

Posted April 14, 2004

Analysis: News when voters need it -- 2 TV stations and 2 newspapers began election reporting early. 4 others lagged.

Posted April 13, 2004

Commentary: A serious failure of journalism -- neglecting to cover the primary vote (Chronicle op-ed)

Posted April 13. 2004

Analysis: Bay Area TV, papers sit by while voters get spun

Posted April 6, 2004

March 2004

Make the call: Should gay journalists who marry cover the same-sex marriage story?

Posted March 30, 2004

Analysis of 2004 primaries: 3 Bay Area newscasts flunk Politics 101 TV, newspapers touched on local races only occasionally before March vote

Posted March 25, 2004

Daniel Ellsberg proposes a Pulitzer Prize for whistle-blowing sources

Posted March 22, 2004

Commentary: Journalists must provide antidote to toxic campaign ads

Posted March 17, 2004

Chronicle bans two female journalists from same-sex marriage story for marrying each other

Posted March 15, 2004

What impact will Jayson Blair's fabrications have on the education of young journalists?

Posted March 11, 2004

Guest Commentary: When is gossip news?

Posted March 4, 2004

Guest Commentary: Church sex abuse story lacks context

Posted March 2, 2004

February 2004

Is the teacher housing crisis really a myth? (Mercury News story)

Posted February 26, 2004

Guest commentary: The Chronicle looks at the color of people in its photos and finds an uncomfortably pale reflection -- Dick Rogers

Posted February 25, 2004

Guest Commentaries on the purchase of the San Francisco Examiner:

San Francisco desperately needs newspaper competition

By William Wong
Posted February 25, 2004

Zombie newspaper rises again

By Rob Morse
Posted February 24, 2004

Give the Examiner a proper burial

By Willliam F. Woo
Posted February 24, 2004

Oops! The moribund Examiner is not dead yet

By David Burgin
Posted February 23, 2004

Guest commentary: The court should delay the 'Perfect Husband' docu-drama to protect Scott Peterson's right to a fair trial

Posted February 19, 2004

Mercury News has only foreign affairs columnist in state -- Daniel Sneider

Posted Feburary 17, 2004

Guest commentary: The media become political king-makers (Dean sabotaged)

Posted February 13, 200

Guest commentary: KNEW finds Peterson guilty

Posted February 12, 2004

SPJ salon on reporters' refusal to name sources: Should a journalist keep a secret to protect a lawbreaker?

Posted February 9, 2004

Guest commentary: If the D.A. is of half Asian descent why does the press label her 'black'?

Posted February 5, 2004

Did Janet Jackson make a boob of the Chronicle?

Posted February 3, 2004

Local TV news in Spanish: big stories but big problems (KDTV Channel 14)

Posted February 2, 2004; Versión en español

January 2004

Guest Commentary: The dog that ran away with the (Mercury) news

Posted January 29, 2004

Commentary: Rehashing the Peterson tragedy for cash

Posted January 28, 2004

Super Bowl 'pay-per-view' controversy: Santa Cruz activist takes on Lingerie Bowl

Posted January 21, 2004

Analysis: The budget and the mountain lion. Rating Bay Area reporting of the Schwarzenegger budget

Posted January 15, 2004

December 2003

Analysis: The newsworthiness of death: Why did the Mercury News and Associated Press give Israeli deaths greater prominence than Palestinian in the Middle East conflict?

Posted December 18, 2003

When a poll isn't really a poll

Posted December 11, 2003; KGO-TV responds December 16

November 2003

A San Francisco mayoral forum unravels, as does one TV station's civic contribution

Posted November 26, 2003

Analysis: Papers couldn't resist Schwarzenegger in photos and headlines

Posted November 24, 2003

Michael Jackson: The most important story of the day?

Posted November 21, 2003

Guest commentary: Getting the red out: Former news director challenges stations to lead with something other than crime

Posted November 19, 2003

Ratcheting up the mayhem: Some Bay Area newsrooms are heaping on coverage despite decline of violent crime

Posted November 10, 2003; See video: fast slow

Commentary: Focusing on random incidents of violence can harm us all

Posted November 10, 2003

Commentary: A test of newsworthiness in the central valley: Journalists covering the Peterson hearing rate it unimportant

Posted November 5, 2003

October 2003

Guest commentary: Chronicle sidesteps ethical concerns in San Francisco prosecutor endorsement

Posted October 30, 2003; The Chronicle responds

Guide: How to Distinguish Between Socially Responsible and Junk Journalism

Posted October 27, 2003

Commentary: Does Kobe Bryant deserve the front page?

Posted October 15, 2003

September 2003

Analysis: Quality gap between newspapers and local television newscasts widens in Bay Area (first-half 2003 grades)

Posted September 22, 2003

News from nowhere: Bay Area stations use canned content designed to look like local news

Posted September 4, 2003; Response posted September 15, 2003


Note: Chronological listing started in September 2003; For older stories, please see the topic page or search.


What do you think? Discuss it in The Coffeehouse.


A project of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University, Grade the News is affiliated with the Graduate Program in Journalism at Stanford University and KTEH, public television in Silicon Valley.

Monitoring the Bay Area's most popular news media:

Contra Costa Times

Knight Ridder

San Francisco Chronicle


San Jose Mercury News

Knight Ridder

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KRON, San Francisco

KRON, San Francisco

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)


Bay Area media advocates:

Media Alliance
Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism at SFSU
Maynard Institute
Youth Media Council
Project Censored
New California Media
Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter
National Writers Union Bay Area chapter

Site highlights


The three-part series follows the rise of three Bay Area handouts:
• Part 1: At free dailies, advertisers sometimes call the shots
• Part 2: Free daily papers: more local but often superficial
• Part 3: Free papers' growth threatens traditional news
• See also: SF Examiner and Independent agree to end payola restaurant reviews
• And: The free tabloid that wasn't: East Bay's aborted Daily Flash


Lou Alexander started a firestorm with his original guest commentary predicting the company would be sold. Several other experts on newspapers have weighed in:
Newspapers can't cut their way back into Wall Street investors' hearts, by Stephen R. Lacy; Alexander responds
Humbler profits won't encourage buyouts, by John Morton; Alexander responds
Newspapers can't maintain monopoly profits because they've lost their monopolies, by Philip Meyer
Knight Ridder in grave jeopardy, by Lou Alexander...


Leakers and plumbers: There's no difference between a good leak and a bad leak? Journalists need a shield law. 11/22/05
Unintended consequences: How Craigslist and similar services are sucking revenue from faltering newspapers. 9/13/05
Is CPB irrelevant? As Congress moves to cut public broadcasting funds, has CPB become obsolete in the modern marketplace. 6/26/05
The paradox of news: There's more news available and its cheaper than ever before, but fewer young people are interested. 5/12/05


Most recent updatesHow the Bay Area's most popular media stack up.Talk about Bay Area journalism in our on-line discussion forum. A printable news scorecard you can use at home or in school. Raves and rants aimed at the local media. What would you do if you were the editor? Upcoming happenings and calls for public action. Let 'em know! Contact a local newsroom.Codes of ethics, local media advocates and journalism tools. Tip us off about the local media, or tell us how we're doing.Oops.A comprehensive list of past GTN exclusives.