Bay Area news outlets to swarm homeless coverage together

homeless-tent-fashion-distr.jpgSidewalk homeless tent on a side street in the Los Angeles fashion district Sunday. LA Observed photo.

Like news outlets in Los Angeles, the newspapers, websites and on-air providers of news in San Francisco have covered their share of stories about the homeless. Recently, however, the San Francisco media met to plan a day of joint coverage in the Chronicle and Examiner, on TV and radio stations, and in locally based magazines including Mother Jones and San Francisco. This level of coordinated reporting is highly unusual. A story in the New York Times says the effort to focus on the homeless issue next month is being spearheaded by the San Francisco Chronicle and its editor in chief, Audrey Cooper, along with public TV and radio station KQED, which hosted the organizing session.

So far, 30 media outlets have chosen to take part, the NYT reports.

“We are all frustrated,” said Jon Steinberg, the editor in chief of San Francisco magazine, which is also taking part. “We are all fed up. We feel there is not enough movement and accountability on the issue.”

“We want the full force of the Fourth Estate to bear down on this problem,” he added.


The premise of the effort is to create a “wave” of coverage that will force politicians to come up with solutions, Ms. Cooper said.

“You will not be able to log onto Facebook, turn on the radio, watch TV, read a newspaper, log onto Twitter without seeing a story about the causes and solutions to homelessness,” she said....Ms. Cooper said The Chronicle will run a week of coverage, including four articles that she described as something akin to a science project: putting forth a hypothesized solution and investigating it. The first proposal is that the city build a mental health center large enough to treat the mentally ill on the streets. The article will explore the cost and the feasibility of institutionalizing people.

“We need to be a hell of a lot more creative about how we solve this problem,” Ms. Cooper said. “And we are probably going to have to break some dishes to do it.”

Only KCBS, the AM radio news station that is under the same ownership at KNX here, declined. “It’s not because of any lack of interest in the homeless or any perception that the story is unimportant to our listeners,” said Jack Swanson, the director of news and programming at KCBS. “Like many media outlets in the Bay Area we cover the homeless situation in our communities and will continue to cover it, on a regular basis.”

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