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Note to Phil

“San Francisco Chronicle — Northern California’s Largest Newspaper”

By Casey Stangl

Now let’s think about that for a second. Must be true, it says so right there on the San Francisco Chronicle masthead mere millimeters away from editor Phil Bronstein’s name. Then again, wouldn’t this depend upon which particular day you weighed the Chronicle, and which day you chose to determine the heft of perhaps the Sacramento Bee or the San Jose Mercury News? Heavy question, to be sure.

The Chronicle measures 25 by 44 inches, hardly king size since that’s the precise size of an overwhelming amount of newspapers worldwide. This hardly qualifies for the weighty issue at hand. It’s difficult to conceive the Chronicle is largest despite reassurance to business section readers last year that it was suspending publication of daily stock reports, except on Saturdays, for the “convenience” of Chronicle readers.

“Largest” because one of its — I mean The Chronicle’s — ubiquitous polls suggested as much? Macy’s double-truck ads that almost daily swallow one sixth of the main news section contribute. “Largest” due to the Chronicle’s ceaseless, immense portions of back patting about Chronicle polls that reinforce the Chronicle’s enormous appetite to share with Chronicle readers how the Chronicle chronicles all that we need to know in exclusive Chronicle reports, as reported first in the Chronicle? This heady claim can even surface in what nowadays appears to be two thirds of the chubby Chronicle’s story content, its articles attributed to other healthy papers like the L. A. Times, New York Times, and Washington Post.

“Largest” because of its endless, beefed up coverage of the BALCO steroid issue in the wake of grand jury testimony “leaked to the Chronicle,” “as first reported in the Chronicle?” Macy’s. Well, I think I remember a poll taken by the Chronicle recently where — first reported by the Chronicle — many of those polled opined how “heavy and weighty” is the in depth reporting of the Bay Area beacon.

In fact, it is common knowledge how award winning and thorough is the Chronicle’s admired, mountainous reporting because Mr. Bronstein thrice or more weekly tells us so. He passionately expounds upon the Chronicle’s “Investigating Journalism,” turned in by “reporters like Vanessa Hua.” Now granted these regular quarter page ads contribute to his paper’s largeness, if not his own largesse, but why is it always his prodigious chin and snout prominently displayed and not, let’s say, Ms. Hua’s… or any of the dozen or more other Chronicle muckrakers whose virtues he extols?

Recently the Chronicle pounded its sizable chest to announce “Two Extra Helpings of Jon Carroll!” That should beef up thickness, help oversize the Chronicle’s diet for coverage. Actually, I personally think Mr. Carroll was perhaps the Chronicle’s best choice of columnists for the Chronicle to reincarnate, to be allowed to toss out his wit five days a week for the Chronicle. An admirable step to gain girth but what about the other dozen or so columnists cut back to twice weekly, some less so, some eliminated altogether when the Hearst entourage first took over? Might they soon return to bulk up the Chronicle weight train too?

Jon Carroll’s return, why “It’s a Windfall of Praise for the Chronicle.” Oh, sorry, “Windfall of Prose” is how the Chronicle’s ad read, announcing how much larger the Chronicle had grown.

 I am unaware if Mr. Bronstein has personally sung the praise of the Chronicle’s front page “Gets Things Done for Your Community” column. He has plenty of time since the Chronicle, as reported by the Chronicle, seems to spend 249 days on average vigilantly helping add weight to community concerns. The Chronicle’s Mr. Bronstein, due to his paper’s sea of never ending Macy’s ads, has plenty of space in which to sandwich his sage ness. Still, this exclusive Chronicle feature, as first shown in the Chronicle, plainly makes it clear that we share a better neighborhood because of what the Chronicle chooses to examine. Whoops! The Chronicle never uses the “Examiner” word.

In fact, isn’t it dubious that Mr. Bronstein never posited himself as quite the fabulous Chronicle crusader he has now become until he departed editorship of the afternoon Examiner to make the move to mornings when he examined, then took advantage of, his pixilated publishing prospects when his employer the Hearst Company sold the venerable afternoon newspaper in order to purchase the larger, nay largest paper of all…. The Chronicle? “The Chronicle, All that’s Fat to Print?”

Ah! Perhaps the Chronicle’s weight gain comes from its barrage touting “The Perfect Holiday Gift.” That is, “Now you can purchase Chronicle photos.” No, no. The Chronicle’s girth expands when a bereaved reader purchases “These tasteful icons to help commemorate the passing of a friend or loved one.”

Whether or not you, dear reader and/or Macy’s shopper, find the enormity of the foregoing, overstuffed analysis wasteful, bloated, or perhaps of no enormous concern, thank you for devouring, however so tiny a taste, our beefy, keen attempts at insight (like the Chronicle’s), our ever growing investigative appetite that would no doubt be proven fat with expansiveness were the Chronicle to take such a poll. A wise reader might think the Chronicle’s Mr. Bronstein would sing our high calorie virtues too; but we are not going to fast from searching fat and factual reporting while we wait for the Chronicle's editorial endorsement. Note to Phil, another chance for prominent placement of your mug shot in the Chronicle.

Now I know the Chronicle, as first told to the Chronicle, does not roll out daily without some kind of credibility, some small mountain of worthiness. Indeed, many readers find the Chronicle quite fit and in good taste. Why heck, the Chronicle used to be so popular among Chronicle readers that its masthead then boasted “San Francisco Chronicle, Northern California’s Largest Daily Circulation.”

Super sized, eh? Hunger for the good ’ol days, Herb?