By: Joel Davis

Cauthorn On San Francisco’s Online Future

As reported earlier this week, Robert S. Cauthorn, former director of new technology at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Ariz., and most recently a new-media guru for Hearst Newspapers, has been named vice president of digital operations for the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle will transfer to Hearst on Nov. 22.

While he is still learning the ropes of the Bay Area’s highly charged online media scene, Cauthorn, 44, told E&P Online that he wants to “expand opportunities and do new things.”

Cauthorn said it was premature to predict whether the Chronicle will continue to produce two Web sites – the paper currently feeds content on a straightforward Chronicle site and the more hip But he did express admiration for SFGate.

“The Gate is a fabulous site right now,” he said. “One thing I don’t want to do is disrupt what it’s done. We just want to do more.”

More, Cauthorn said, includes “expanding the reach” of, which he says primarily focuses on San Francisco. “We need to broaden that,” he said.

John Coate, current general manager of and the man credited with giving it its visionary/irreverent flavor, will continue to be general manager, only now he will be reporting to Cauthorn. “I’m going to be actively involved” with, Cauthorn said. “But I respect John immensely. As far as I am concerned, he remains the general manager.”

Coate said he is still learning how Cauthorn’s appointment will impact his position as’s creative force. “The roles and responsibilities are all getting figured out and I’m just not sure right now what it all means for me,” Coate said. is one of the few major daily newspaper online sites that is entirely free, including free access to archived San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner articles dating back to 1995. (Once the Examiner transfers to the Fang family on Nov. 22, the Examiner online site and the newspaper’s archives will go with it.)

While at the Arizona Daily Star, Cauthorn created StarNet, touted as one of the first newspaper Web sites in the world to make a profit. A past recipient of the Newspaper Association of America’s (NAA) New Media Pioneer Award, Cauthorn has covered a variety of beats, and in the 1980s became one of the country’s first journalists to use computers for database-assisted reporting.

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

Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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