On Dec. 5, the San Francisco Chronicle will be launching a new quarterly focused on outdoor lifestyle and recreation in the greater Bay Area. The quarterly will debut as a separate section in the paper and will be distributed to the Chron's 500,000 plus daily subscribers. In addition, the section will be available online at The Gate, the Chronicle's popular website that sees 4.6 million visitors daily -- one of the most visited newspaper sites in the nation.
Robert Rosenthal, managing editor of the Chronicle, told SNEWS that the paper started brainstorming of additional outdoor coverage shortly after he arrived at the paper from the Philadelphia Enquirer last year.
"Coming here from Pennsylvania, it was striking to me just how important the outdoor lifestyle is to the people of California, and especially in the Bay Area," Rosenthal said. "After the meeting where I talked about the importance of the outdoors to our paper, we had 25 staff volunteer to part of a brainstorming team."
While the section doesn't yet have an official name -- the one the team wanted was too similar to that of the Los Angeles Times' recently launched new outdoor section -- features and special projects editor Wendy Miller is very clear on the content, goals and direction.
"One of the big issues for me as we put together this first issue is the fact we already do an excellent weekly outdoor section, and it was essential that we did not create something that was competing with our own paper and reports," Miller said.
"So, rather than focusing on the extreme and dazzling, which it seems most outdoor sections do, we are gearing our outdoor quarterly to be more lifestyle-oriented, appealing to families and as much to women as to men," added Miller.
While the 12-to 16-page inaugural quarterly will have coverage on traditional pursuits such as snowboarding, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, etc., there also will be an emphasis on things that, as Miller puts it, grandma or mom might want to do too.
How about a story on the art of the outdoor picnic, including recipes, what to wear to be comfortable, and where to go, for example? There will be that and more. Miller tells us that a great deal of the coverage will be focused on the Sierra and showing Bay Area residents and visitors things to do that they might not ordinarily have thought of or tried -- all with an outdoor slant, of course.
The Chronicle will be producing this entirely in-house, and drawing from a wealth of talent. Paul McHugh, the Chronicle's outdoor editor told SNEWS that while he and renowned outdoor writer Tom Stienstra will be contributing, so will the science editor, the food editor, and a veteran reporter who was embedded in the Iraq war (he'll be writing about backpacking in the Sierra -- 50 years ago).
If all goes well with the debut, Rosenthal confirmed that the Chronicle may look to increase distribution frequency.
SNEWS View: Outstanding! First the LA Times launches an outdoor section, and now the Chronicle ups the ante by launching a separate outdoor lifestyle section as a quarterly, in addition to the paper's solid outdoor section. While clearly a play for additional advertising dollars in a challenging market, this is a very wise move and bodes well for our industry. The more newspapers such as the Chron talk about getting outdoors, the more readers will do just that -- follow their lead and start getting out. Now, if that translates into increased sales, we'll all be smiling.