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2020 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Newsroom finalist

San Francisco Chronicle

About the Project

The Chronicle is a local newsroom, and we’re proud of that. Our job is to tell the stories of San Francisco, the Bay Area and beyond and to strengthen our communities through unbiased, tough and informative reporting.

Innovation is a core value. We believe a commitment to presenting ambitious interactive projects has not only enriched our journalism but driven a surge in digital subscribers. Here are three examples:

  • Coronavirus Tracker: In March, as the Bay Area counted its first cases of COVID-19, we launched an interactive collection of maps and charts. Since then, it has grown into a robust data project updated multiple times a day, and serves as the most accurate case counter in California.
  • One Day, One City, No Relief: We cover the Bay Area’s homelessness crisis relentlessly. This was our most ambitious project on the topic, featuring the reporting of 36 staffers and contributions from a few dozen more. Honored with the August Sidney Award, it takes readers inside 24 hours of homelessness in San Francisco.
  • 25 Dishes You Must Eat in 2020: This fun project highlights our food journalism and takes readers into the local restaurants, hot spots and holes-in-the-wall that they might not otherwise try.

Our newsroom is always looking for new ways to tell stories. We emphasize collaboration between departments and take risks with new tactics and technology. Here are three examples:

  • Assignment Editor: We built a tool that allows our readers to send us questions on topics such as the coronavirus or wildfires and vote for which angles of a story we should cover.
  • Visual Essays: Our director of photography and our developer team improved on a Google AMP template to highlight our images and videos in a mobile-friendly format that takes users inside major news events.
  • Class of 2020: This ongoing series follows eight high school seniors as they work toward graduation in a year like no other. We encouraged these students and their peers to turn their lenses on themselves, and we published their work in addition to our photographers’.

While our reporting earns readership, social tools provide direct connections to our audience. On Reddit, we’ve hosted AMAs with disease experts and our health writers, and we have invited the audience to question our restaurant critic and homelessness expert, among others. On Twitter, we source photos and stories from users in breaking news situations, such as wildfires or protests. On Facebook and YouTube, we stream live events.

Our hard work has been noticed. As subscriber Janet Basu wrote: “The Chronicle is doing the best it has done for at least half a century, perhaps the best in its history.”

Columbia Journalism Review agreed: “While few metro newspapers are central to civic life the way papers were 30 years ago, the Chronicle has put itself back into the city’s daily conversations.”

We’re proud to nominate our local newsroom and SFChronicle.com in the General Excellence category of this year’s Online Journalism Awards.