SF Chronicle Columnist Responds to Criticisms of His Comments on Bloggers

San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius was put through the ringer over this past week following his comments on a CBS5 report on whether metro bloggers, like Crazy in Suburbia, Claycord.com or Halfway to Concord, were positioning themselves to fill the void left by retreating daily newspapers.

Nevius was quoted as saying:
Bloggers do a nice job and that’s fine. But what I see bloggers doing is taking the raw material they get from news organizations like this and riffing off of it.If the bloggers didn’t have us to do the start of the work for them, I don’t know what they’d blog on. So, I’d be interested to see how that happens. They’re talking pretty big now, we’ll see where they go.

A lot of my fellow “metrobloggers” were not happy with his comments. I wrote him an email, which was printed in this post, and here is his response. Actually, it’s a very gracious response, and I could see that in the world of TV news soundbites that his full intentions about bloggers in relation to traditional news outlets were not adequately expressed.

He also mentions the empty desks in his newsroom. Empty desks in work places: I know what he’s talking about. That’s the case where I work. Meanwhile, as I post this, I’m taking a break from my office party that was moved from its usual location at some fancy local restaurant to a meal catered by a local deli and with dessert provided “pot-luck” style by employees. Not that a pot-luck style holiday party is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a lovely thing, more meaningful in many ways, that the fancy lunch. As the president of my company said, “At least we’re all here together, and we’ll fight it out through 2009.”

But I do go on. Anyway, here is what Nevius wrote me.

“Sorry to be so slow to respond. I got swamped unexpectedly. Thanks for the note. I got quite a bit of reaction to those comments. Who knew? Just to be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with riffing off the news. My point was just that the mainstream media still has an important role to fill. But yeah, it is getting pretty grim. There are so many empty desks around me it kind of gives everyone the creeps. We’re just hoping the “new” Chronicle, with a new printing press, will revive things here in SF. Thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to write.”

You’re welcome, Mr. Nevius. And thanks very much for the note. (Could this be a column for you?)

As I said, I absolutely do not want the Chronicle or the Contra Costa Times to go out of business. They provide an important service to our community. Besides, whose material would I riff off of for my own meager posts? I can also understand Nevius getting swamped at work and not able to respond immediately. Even though he’s a columnist, maybe his bosses suddenly expect him to have to do extra jobs, work that was previously done by former colleagues who have been laid off.

Thanks again, C.W. and good luck in the new year.

6 thoughts on “SF Chronicle Columnist Responds to Criticisms of His Comments on Bloggers

  1. Thanks “anonymous” for your comments.And thanks Radar for posting. Wow, the famous Radar. Like the Mayor, you are a bit of a celebrity among some co-workers of mine. I am deeply honored to hear from you. Keep you the good work you do for Claycord.


  2. Eye on Blogs says Nevius’ response to me is “a little short and doesn’t answer the questions asked of him about the work done by his newsroom.” True, he didn’t really address my theories about why newspapers are failing or answer my questions about the Chronicle pulling out of covering the East Bay suburbs and whether he thought the Chronicle and the CoCo Times were really doing a good job of covering their local communities. I still think it was nice of him to respond. Maybe I’m being a softie. I also have a lot of sympathy for people who write for daily newspapers. Been there, done that. Of course, I was always a mere reporter, not a columnist, but I just remember working hard for companies (and ever growing media conglomerates) that didn’t pay you well, didn’t care about quality, and didn’t really give a s— about you. Even though he didn’t say it, and even though he is a columnist and seemingly in a glorified situation at the Chronicle, I can imagine that things aren’t all that easy for him. And it’s true that there were some times when I read some of his Contra Costa-related columns and thought, I wish I wrote that.


  3. soccer mom, I agree with much of what you shared about C.W. Nevius and the level of his skills. Mr. Nevius continues to be a fine writer for a wobbling newspaper. I have followed his efforts through extensive sports reporting/columns to the more current local human interest/political stuff in the amazing San Francisco milage. He is consistently insightful, professional and caring about his subject matter. Anonymous critics might take a deep breath before jumping bad toward one of these people who have actually done it for a living for decades.


  4. CW – You still ain’t cop’n to your BS. Screw all the polite-ness. The guy’s a terd for making those comments. Everyone in the know – know’s how fast us bloggers get the story, and how fast we comunicate it. Hard copy press will soon be a thing of the past. Probably the only papers left will be The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Onion.


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