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Nov 13, 2013 02:04 PM

San Francisco Chronicle Plans to End Its Prized Food Section

This seems like pretty big news.

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  1. They are getting encroached on - on all sides- by Yelp, 7x7, Eater SF, Chowhound, Michelin etc. Somewhat their own fault, they haven't been able to provide the coverage the Bay Area really needs (imho coverage of places that aren't "hip" and "cool" by aspiring and established local celebrity chefs). We would really benefit from a Jonathan Gold type.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      I think the Chron's holding its own as far as the web stuff. Paolo Lucchesi has long been the best reporter on the local food news beat, they were smart to hire him away from Eater.

      The Chron has made no effort to discover restaurants of the sort that Jonathan Gold writes about since Michael Bauer pushed out Patricia Unterman and Stan Sesser in the pre-Web era.

      I don't think any of that is relevant to this change, though. It's just the result of declining subscriptions, declining ad revenues, and ever more expensive printing and delivery costs.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Yep. Newspapers have been getting killed as far as ad revenues go. It's more that than declining subscriptions.

        The SFGate commentary doesn't actually deny that the Food section's disappearing. If the NY Times report is correct in saying that they'll no longer test recipe, you can consider the section pretty much gutted.

        What a shame.

      1. re: absc

        That makes more sense. It will change/morph but not disappear. Seriously, food is one of the few things the Chron has an edge on so why would they just toss it?

        Thus you get this from the link: "Instead of cutting, as our competitor asserts, we are increasing our investment in terms of digital and print offerings."

        1. re: ML8000

          Reads like spin to me. We'll see if they actually do more or new things to offset the stuff they're dropping.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I agree. Sounds like spin. The story got out before they had "their" story set. Though we haven't lived in the city in 20 years we love, when visiting, to devour the food section. OT, when our daughters were young and we had a one bathroom house, I warned them to grab the bathroom first if they saw their dad heading there with some light green newspaper :)

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              If they fold or gut the food section, or can't fix it, they should just fold the whole paper, and maybe they will. It's not like there's a whole lot left any way. Oh well, I guess we'll see.

          2. re: absc

            Columnist Marion Nestle tweeted:
            "So sad about end of SF Chronicle's Food section. My last Food Matters column--after 5.5 years--will be Dec 29."

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              This is just awful. How can they be so stupid? It's my livelihood and I deal with their idiocy on a daily basis.

              1. re: Glencora

                You have my sympathies.

                Elsewhere in the twitterverse, Michael Murphy (Bauer's better half) tweeted:
                "SFChronicle ends Its prized & acclaimed Food Section'Brilliant' move by outgoing Prez,'tech visionary' @pinjoanne"

                (@pinjoanne is Joanne Bradford who is leaving for Pinterest)

          3. Sad to hear. Some really great recipes over the years.The cioppino recipe early eighties is my white whale. I lost it,and have searched to all ends. You would make the stock from fish frames.Use the crab butter.etc.etc.I would drive all over town to shop for this recipe.

            1. Wasn't Bauer the head of the food & wine fiefdom?

              Wouldn't folding under lifestyles put Bauer under someone who can exert editorial force?

              Wouldn't this be bad in the short term, but improving on Bauer good in the long term?

              9 Replies
              1. re: bbulkow

                Bauer's the head of the food & wine department. Who knows how this will play out on that score? Maybe he'll retire.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Kind of interesting that Bauer's name was not mentioned in either the NYTimes article or the Chron reply.

                    I have no idea what that means, but it's interesting. :)

                    1. re: pamf

                      He's mentioned in the Modern Luxury / SF Mag interview: "Michael Bauer’s [reviews] are by far our most clicked-on things. Should we be making more of that?"

                  2. re: bbulkow

                    Apropos of nothing much, I have it on good authority that other Chronicle staffers refer to the food section's separate building as the "Tower of Bauer".

                    1. re: TVHilton

                      The NY Times story linked to in the original post said that they would be moving out of that building.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yeah...amazing to me that they had it at all. Empire-building gone wild.

                        1. re: TVHilton

                          I think it made sense some years ago, when the paper was bigger and they syndicated a lot of content to other papers.

                    2. I've watched the Chronicle slowly shrink for twenty years. As long as they don't drop my puzzles, I'll stick with it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: GH1618

                        I saw a paper copy recently for the first time in a few years and was startled by how small it was.

                        There's a theory that the only reason the Hearsts keep it going is because it could be politically useful in getting approval for the big highrise development they're working on for the site.

                        1. re: GH1618

                          Yes the Chron isn't like it used to be. However, if they want to up their circulation, they should make the papers available beyond Walgreens and Safeway. Sometimes, I like to buy the Sunday paper and I can't find a bin that is stocked!