There have been many stories bemoaning the death of the newspaper business in today’s online world. The bulk smacks of self-pity and consists of way too much navel-gazing. Life, even in miserable medialand, goes on.
The Daily Dramatic Chronicle, which morphed into the Daily Morning Chronicle, catered to the "stranded young men seeking entertainment" in the wild and wholly city that saw its population soar from 57,000 in 1860 to 150,000 ten years later. Oscar Wilde noted: "It is an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be in San Francisco."
The Chronicle was delivered to the city's saloons, cafés and reading rooms jam packed with news of Gold Rush City's theaters, operas, minstrel shows, circuses, brothels, shootings, bank robberies, shipping schedules, gold strikes, drownings, fires and suicides. The Chron "borrowed a tone of merriment and swagger from the city it daily invented," according to Rodriguez.
Let's fast-forward to today's "no-nothing paper." Like other newspapers, the Chon once had an intimate relationship with readers. Wrote Rodriguez:
"The relationship between observer and observed was reciprocal: the newspaper described the city; the newspaper, in turn, was sustained by readers who were curious about the strangers that circumstance had placed proximate to them."
Rodriguez notes that not one of four friends who recently died wanted to have a paid obit in the Chron. “As much as any vacancy in the Chronicle I can point to, the dearth of obituaries measures its decline,” he wrote.