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.