By: Joe Strupp
San Francisco Chronicle Vice President and Managing Editor Jerry Roberts left the newspaper Monday after nearly 25 years working in posts ranging from reporter to editorial page editor.
A Chronicle press release said only that Roberts had departed the paper, but did not refer to his departure as a retirement, resignation, or firing. A company spokesman would not comment further on the situation, while Executive Editor Phil Bronstein and Publisher John Oppedahl could not be reached for comment.
Several newsroom sources speculated that Roberts may have departed because of ongoing disputes with Bronstein. “They were not seeing eye to eye,” said one newsroom veteran, who asked not to be named. “There were a lot of back-and-forths and they just weren’t clicking.”
Other newsroom workers, who also declined to be named, confirmed that Roberts and Bronstein had disagreed over coverage since Bronstein became executive editor following the Hearst Corp.’s purchase of the Chronicle in 2000.
Hearst, which had owned the smaller San Francisco Examiner, turned over control of the Examiner to the local Fang family, but promised jobs to all Examiner employees who wanted them, including Bronstein, who had served as Examiner editor. The integration of the Chronicle and Examiner staffs has not always gone smoothly, according to employees of the combined staffs.
Roberts declined to comment on reports of a rift with Bronstein, saying only that he was headed for a vacation to Mexico and would start looking for a job upon his return, possibly in teaching or broadcasting. In a statement released by the paper, he referred to his Chronicle tenure as “an incredible privilege.” In the same statement, Bronstein called Roberts “a consummate professional and an extraordinarily talented journalist.”
The statement also said the paper would conduct a nationwide search for Roberts’ replacement. In the meantime, Bronstein appointed Senior Editor Narda Zacchino as assistant executive editor and Sunday Editor Kenn Altine as associate managing editor to cover Roberts’ day-to-day responsibilities until a replacement is named.