By: Joel Davis

Publisher Fang Suspects the Chronicle

Could a plague of locusts be next? The San Francisco
Examiner, which has had to deal with staff turnover, quality
control, and, more recently, an attempt by workers to unionize,
has a new problem: Dog doo on newspaper boxes. “I’ll blame it on
the [San Francisco] Chronicle,” Publisher Ted Fang
told E&P last week.

An organized group has been vandalizing Examiner newspaper
boxes with dog feces since last November and has lately increased
its late-night sorties. In one recent week, the group, which
hasn’t been identified or claimed responsibility for the dirty
deed – smearing feces on rack handles and deeply in coin
slots – attacked at least 25 of the Examiner’s 2,500

“I have been in newspaper wars all over the country, and this is
the first time I have ever seen these tactics,” Steve Sparks, the
Examiner’s circulation director, said, adding that the
assaults were “perverse” and “disgusting.”

Initially, rival Chronicle said its racks had escaped the
poopsters, and the Chronicle and its union drivers denied
any link to the attacks. Later, Chronicle Circulation
Director Stephen Johnson told E&P that Chronicle
boxes in San Francisco’s Castro District also fell victim to the

Evidence is not being saved. The Examiner has been forced
to send the newspaper boxes to a car wash for complete cleaning.
Fingering the Chronicle, Fang charged: “These people have
never had to deal with real newspaper competition, ever. Now that
they have, they don’t know how to deal with it, so they are
pulling all these kinds of stunts.” But Phil Bronstein, the
Chronicle’s executive editor, told E&P, “I’m not
even going to respond because it’s so ridiculous.”

Joel Davis ( is West Coast editor for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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