‘SF Chronicle’ Does A Double Take — For Barry Bonds Story

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By: Joe Strupp

In a first, the San Francisco Chronicle printed two versions of its Saturday Page One. The move was prompted by the San Francisco Giants’ decision not to re-sign home run king Barry Bonds.

In a memo first posted on the Poynter.org Romenesko site, Assistant Managing Editor Allen Matthews said the paper wanted to use the major news event to draw attention after designers failed to choose between two differing approaches.

“Two of our designers were kicking around separate layout ideas, and we decided to use both,” the memo said. “This is a first for the Chronicle. Our presses were set up so that the front page alternated with every other paper so that I’ll get one cover and my next-door neighbor will get the other.”

Editor Phil Bronstein said the decision did not stem from any disagreement over which design to use, but rather the opportunity to cover the story in both ways. “We all thought it was a great idea, something unique,” he told E&P.

One design offered 15 different photos of Bonds during his Giants career, under the headline “BYE-BYE BARRY.” The second had a single somber photo of Bonds looking down under the same headline.

The images can be seen on the paper’s Web site.

Bronstein said the paper would consider doing multiple Page One designs in the future, but only if the story was worth it: “If we were going to do it again, we would wait for some unique opportunity.”

The Chronicle has made news in recent years related to Bonds after revealing portions of leaked grand jury testimony that indicated Bonds had admitted using illegal performance enhancing substances. Those revelations led to federal threats of jail time for reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams for refusing to reveal their source.

The jail threats were eventually withdrawn when someone purporting to be their source admitted his involvement to federal officials. Bonds made other news this season after passing Hank Aaron to become the all-time home run leader.

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