May 29, 1996
By Richard Petersen
"San Francisco's two daily newspapers are ''about a week away'' from closing a deal to shut down the afternoon Examiner and run a jointly owned morning newspaper, according to sources." --San Jose Mercury News, April 27, 1996
Over a month later it does not seem to have happened - but what if it did?
Both the Independent and the Bay Guardian have gone on record against a merger of the two major San Francisco dallies. Why? One would think that this might provide an opportunity for each. The real question is how separate are the Chronicle and Examiner now. They share the same printing, classified advertising, Sunday edition and ad sales now. The editorial and look of both papers are remarkably similar. The complaint is that with one paper, there would be even less coverage of minority and local issues than there is now. One wonders if this is really true. If the best writers of both papers were combined the possibility exists that San Francisco could get one excellent paper - more than the two papers which exist today. Both New York and Los Angles enjoy papers of clearly higher quality. It's not that the Chronicle and Examiner have bad writers - many are quite good - it's that to have a truly outstanding paper there simply has to be enough talent. Neither the Chronicle nor Examiner have this now. A merger could allow this to happen. Or perhaps not - the worst fears would be that a single local daily would feel no competition and be worse than either of the dailies we have now. The truth is that The New York Times, Los Angles Times and Wall Street Journal do now provide competition - especially in the area of national and world news (which neither the Chronicle or Examiner cover well now anyway). Who knows, perhaps one of these out of town papers might create The San Francisco Times which adds their existing national coverage to local coverage and gives the Chronicle a real run for it's money. This would be true competition - not the suto competition which we have today.