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CNN Today

War of Words in the City by the Bay

Aired April 6, 2000 - 2:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Cities that have two newspapers are falling by the wayside, San Francisco may be one of them soon, but not for very long.

CNN's Rusty Dornin reports on the continuing uproar over "The Chronicle" and "The Examiner" in the city by the bay.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A former riverboat pilot by the name of Mark Twain wrote articles for both newspapers in San Francisco in the 1800s, one of the few things "The Chronicle" and "The Examiner" had in common in those days. Otherwise, it was all-out war, and even reporters carried guns.

PHIL BRONSTEIN, EDITOR, "SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER": There was a time, 100 years ago, when people were shooting each other as part of that rivalry.

PHIL MATIER, COLUMNIST, "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE": There's been the paper rivalries, there's been family rivalries, there's been ownership rivalries, and it's really been something that has made this town what it is, which is a debate on every corner.

DORNIN: Much of what was fit to print back then had to be sensational. In fact, in 1865, the teenage de Young brothers named their paper "The Daily Dramatic Chronicle." Their first scoop? Early word of the assassination of President Lincoln.

Twenty-two years later, "The San Francisco Examiner" rolled off the presses. It's creator, William Randolph Hearst, immortalized in the movie "Citizen Kane" as a man obsessed with power and selling newspapers.

(on camera): A century later, the Hearst Corporation wants to sell "The Examiner," buy "The Chronicle." One man wants to stop the deal, and the city's in an uproar.

BRONSTEIN: You got a scorecard? because you need a map?

DORNIN (voice-over): The Hearst Corporation plans to sell "The Examiner" to an Asian publishing family and has offered to throw in $66 million to help keep the presses rolling. The U.S. Justice Department rubber-stamped the deal. Meantime, a former mayoral candidate is suing to stop the deal claiming it's set up so "The Examiner" will fail, creating a "Chronicle: monopoly.

CLINT REILLY, FORMER MAYORAL CANDIDATE: The elimination of newspaper competition in San Francisco is one of the most important issues facing this city.

DORNIN: A tale with a cast of characters that even has some of the players shaking their heads.

BRONSTEIN: You know, this is San Francisco, so bizarre is kind of what we do here.

MATIER: I just wish I had the movie rights on this deal because it's like "Citizen Kane" meets "The Sopranos," with the Marx Brothers thrown in.

DORNIN: A judge will decide next month whether to permanently block the sale, but will it be the last edition?

MATIER: In San Francisco, you got to remember, the city motto is, "It ain't ever over."

DORNIN: Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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