Chron badly scooped on PG&E blast


The San Francisco Chronicle used gigantic type on its front page two days in a row, and put out an entire special Sunday supplement on the San Bruno fire. The daily is struggling, but still has substantial staff, and this is a perfect daily-paper story -- a dramatic explosion, events unfolding quickly, compelling visuals, dozens of story angles.

And the new, much smaller online Bay Citizen is making the Chron look weak.

The Bay Citizen got the real scoop that the Chron missed -- area residents have been complaining about gas leaks for weeks, and PG&E more or less ignored them. And PG&E's own internal reports said that the pipeline was dangerous and needed to be fixed.

Once news outlets have reported on the basic facts of an incident like this -- how many dead, how many houses burned -- they need to start looking immediately at why it happened -- and that's where the Chron has fallen down. None of this was all that hard to find -- all the Bay Citizen reporters did was talk to people in the neighborhood about PG&E, then get a copy of a public report.

And with all the talented staff of reporters at the Chron, they couldn't manage to take on PG&E.


Reminds me of 2008, when the day -after- the June '08 election, the SF Chronicle reported that PG&E had spent 10 million dollars attacking the local clean energy and public power initiative, Prop H...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 13, 2010 @ 11:49 am

Shouldn't that read "SF Bay Guardian" scooped too? It's not like you all did any reporting either. Just blathering away, more interested in talking about boring topics and not reporting any news. Warren Hellman and his army of underpaid grad students just kicked your asses good!

Posted by Art Isanjournalist on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

Jonathan Weber did this issue justice. Perhaps it was the first big story for him and his staff to report on intensively and continuously. Some of the BC's stories were datelined at odd hours. Most SF alternative online news and newsblog sites don't work nights or weekends, or only post one new story every day, or two days, or three days, such as BeyondChron, Public Press and FCJ. Hence, it could be a while before we can stop reading SFGate. But the Bay Citizen looks promising.

Posted by Animal on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 5:17 pm