The San Francisco Examiner

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The San Francisco Examiner
Sfexaminer logo.png
Type Free daily newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) San Francisco Media Company LLC
Publisher Glenn Zuehls
Editor Michael Howerton
Founded 1863, as Democratic Press
Headquarters 835 Market Street, Suite 550
San Francisco, California 94103
Circulation 75,009 M/T/W;
190,088 Thursday
101,369 Friday
255,527 Sunday
Official website

The San Francisco Examiner is a free daily newspaper distributed in and around San Francisco, California. The Examiner has been published continuously since the late 19th century.

The longtime "Monarch of the Dailies" and flagship of the Hearst Corporation chain, the Examiner converted to free distribution early in the 21st century and is now independently owned by the San Francisco Media Company LLC.


19th century[edit]

The Examiner was founded in 1863 as the Democratic Press, a pro-Confederacy, pro-slavery, pro-Democrat party paper opposed to Abraham Lincoln, but after his assassination in 1865 the paper's offices were destroyed by a mob, and starting on June 12, 1865 it was called the Daily Examiner.[1][2][3]

Hearst acquisition[edit]

In 1880, mining engineer and entrepreneur George Hearst bought the Examiner. Seven years later, after being elected to the U.S. Senate, he gave it to his son, William Randolph Hearst, who was then 23 years old. The elder Hearst "was said to have received the failing paper as partial payment of a poker debt."[4]

William Randolph Hearst hired S.S. (Sam) Chamberlain, who had started the first American newspaper in Paris, as managing editor[3] and Arthur McEwen as editor, and changed the Examiner from an evening to a morning paper.[1] Under him, the paper's popularity increased greatly, with the help of such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, and the San Francisco-born Jack London,[5] and also through the Examiner '​s version of yellow journalism, with ample use of foreign correspondents and splashy coverage of scandals such as two entire pages of cables from Vienna about the Mayerling Incident;[3] satire; and patriotic enthusiasm for the Spanish–American War and the 1898 annexation of the Philippines.

20th century[edit]

San Francisco Examiner front page, February 26, 1942

William Randolph Hearst created the masthead with the "Hearst Eagle" and the slogan Monarch of the Dailies.

Hearst Building, San Francisco

After the great earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed much of San Francisco, the Examiner and its rivals — the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Call — brought out a joint edition. The Examiner offices were destroyed on April 18, 1906,[6] but when the city was rebuilt, a new structure, the Hearst Building, arose in its place at Third and Market streets. It opened in 1909, and in 1937 the facade, entranceway and lobby underwent an extensive remodeling designed by architect Julia Morgan.[7]

Through the middle third of the twentieth century, the Examiner was one of several dailies competing for the city's and the Bay Area's readership; the San Francisco News, the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, and the Chronicle all claimed significant circulation, but ultimately attrition left the Examiner one chief rival — the Chronicle. Strident competition prevailed between the two papers in the 1950s and 1960s; the Examiner boasted, among other writers, such columnists as veteran sportswriter Prescott Sullivan, the popular Herb Caen, who took an eight-year hiatus from the Chronicle (1950–1958), and Kenneth Rexroth, one of the best-known men of California letters and a leading San Francisco Renaissance poet, who contributed weekly impressions of the city from 1960 to 1967. Ultimately circulation battles ended in a merging of resources between the two papers.

For 35 years starting in 1965, the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner operated under a Joint Operating Agreement whereby the Chronicle published a morning paper and the Examiner published in the afternoon. The Examiner published the Sunday paper's news sections and glossy magazine, and the Chronicle contributed the features. Circulation was approximately 100,000 on weekdays and 500,000 on Sundays. By 1995, discussion was already brewing in print media about the possible shuttering of the Examiner due to low circulation and an extremely disadvantageous revenue sharing agreement for the Chronicle.[8]

The San Francisco Examiner

21st century[edit]

Fang acquisition[edit]

The Examiner
The San Francisco Examiner

When the Chronicle Publishing Company divested its interests, the Hearst Corporation purchased the Chronicle. To satisfy antitrust concerns, Hearst sold the Examiner to ExIn, LLC, a corporation owned by the politically connected Fang family, publishers of the San Francisco Independent and the San Mateo Independent.[9] San Francisco political consultant Clint Reilly filed a lawsuit against Hearst, charging that the deal did not ensure two competitive newspapers and was instead a sweetheart deal designed to curry approval. However, on July 27, 2000 a federal judge approved the Fangs' assumption of the Examiner name, its archives, 35 delivery trucks, and a subsidy of $66 million, to be paid over three years.[10]

On February 24, 2003, the Examiner became a free daily newspaper and is now printed Sunday through Friday.

Anschutz acquisition[edit]

On February 19, 2004, the Fang family sold the Examiner and its printing plant, together with the two Independent newspapers, to Philip Anschutz of Denver, Colorado.[9] His new company, Clarity Media Group, launched The Washington Examiner in 2005 and published The Baltimore Examiner 2006-2009. In 2006, Anschutz donated the archives of the Examiner to the University of California, Berkeley Bancroft Library, the largest gift ever to the library.[11]

Under Clarity ownership, the Examiner pioneered a new business model[12] for the newspaper industry. Designed to be read quickly, the Examiner is presented in a compact, tabloid size without story jumps. It focuses on local news, business, entertainment and sports with an emphasis on content relevant to local readers. It is delivered free to select neighborhoods in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, and to single-copy outlets throughout San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties, California.

By February 2008, the company had transformed the newspaper's domain into a national hyperlocal brand with local websites throughout the United States.[13]

Independent ownership[edit]

Clarity Media sold the Examiner to San Francisco Newspaper Company LLC in 2011. The company's investors included then-President and Publisher Todd Vogt, Chief Financial Officer Pat Brown, and David Holmes Black.[citation needed] Early, incorrect media reports stated that the paper was purchased by Black's company Black Press.[14] In 2014, Vogt sold his shares to Black Press.[15][16]


In the early 20th century, an edition of the Examiner circulated in the East Bay under the Oakland Examiner masthead. Into the late 20th century, the paper circulated well beyond San Francisco. In 1982, for example, the Examiner's zoned weekly supplements within the paper were titled "City, "Peninsula," "Marin/Sonoma" and "East Bay."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b James David Hart, A Companion to California, New York: Oxford, 1978, p. 441.
  2. ^ How Old Is The Examiner?
  3. ^ a b c WPA Federal Writers' Project, San Francisco: The Bay and its Cities, New York: Hastings House, 1940, OCLC 504264488 (Internet Archive text), p. 153.
  4. ^ Associated Press, "William Randolph Hearst, Journalist, Dies at 85," New York Times. May 15, 1993
  5. ^ William Randolph Hearst, 1863-1951
  6. ^ 1906 quake FAQ, Chinatown Historical Society
  7. ^ Images of the Hearst Building, San Francisco, California, by Julia Morgan
  8. ^ Bill Mandel, "The Case For One Daily," SF Weekly March 1, 1995.
  9. ^ a b Amy Bryer, "Anschutz buys San Francisco newspapers," Denver Business Journal February 19, 2004.
  10. ^ Jessie Seyfer, Associated Press, "Judge clears way for Hearst to buy San Francisco Chronicle," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 27, 2000.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Robertson, Lori (April–May 2007). "Home Free". American Journalism Review. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "San Francisco Examiner Sold to Black Press Group". The San Francisco Examiner. November 11, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2012. [dead link]
  15. ^ Eskenazi, Joe (2014-05-06). "Todd Vogt, San Francisco Print Media Company President, Likely to Sell SF Weekly, Bay Guardian, Examiner". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  16. ^ Dudnick, Laura (2014-07-02). "New publisher named for San Francisco Media Co.". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 

External links[edit]

This article is about the Canadian publishing company. For the African American media organization, see Historical Black Press Foundation.
Black Press Group Ltd.
Type Private
Industry Newspapers
Founded 1975
Headquarters 818 Broughton Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Area served Alberta, British Columbia, Hawaii, Ohio and Washington state
Key people David Holmes Black, CEO
Rick O'Connor, COO
Products Akron Beacon Journal, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, five other daily newspapers and more than 100 weekly newspapers
Parent David Holmes Black (80%)
Torstar (20%)
Subsidiaries Oahu Publishing Company, Sound Publications

Black Press Group Ltd. is a Canadian privately owned publisher of prominent daily newspapers in Hawaii and Ohio, United States, and numerous weekly newspapers in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, and the U.S. state of Washington. Black Press is headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia.

It is currently administered and majority owned by David Holmes Black (no relation to Canadian-born media mogul Conrad Black). The company is 20% owned by Torstar, publisher of the Toronto Star and David Black's former employer.


After working as a junior business analyst for the Toronto Star, Black purchased the Williams Lake Tribune of Williams Lake, British Columbia, from his father, Alan, in 1975. He bought a family-run newspaper in nearby Ashcroft in 1979, and his holdings expanded "exponentially" in the ensuing years.[1]

There was never a big plan to get big. It's just that another opportunity would come over the hill. Usually an independent would phone, wanting to retire or sell out, asking if we were interested in buying them.[1]

—David Black

Though Black Press has focused its acquisitions mainly on building a province-wide network of community newspapers in British Columbia, and a similar operation (called Sound Publishing) across the border in Washington, the company has also invested in individual marquee daily products. In 2000, Black purchased the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of Hawaii[1] (later merged with the competing Honolulu Advertiser, which Black bought in 2010). In 2006, the company acquired the Akron Beacon Journal, the former Knight Ridder flagship in Northeast Ohio.

On June 27, 2007, Black Press announced a $405 million takeover offer for Osprey Media, putting it in competition with Quebecor Media for Osprey's assets. Quebecor subsequently put in a higher bid and won ownership of Osprey.

In 2011, David Black was one of several newspaper industry veterans who joined together as investors in the San Francisco Newspaper Company to buy the former Hearst flagship The San Francisco Examiner, now a free daily newspaper. Although the transaction was initially reported as a purchase for Black Press, David Black participated as a private investor and holds his shares in the Examiner separately from Black Press.[2]

Daily newspapers[edit]

Black Press owns three major metropolitan daily newspapers in the United States, and several dailies as part of its community newspaper chains in the Canadian and U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Major dailies[edit]

Community dailies[edit]

Defunct dailies[edit]

Community newspapers[edit]

Black Press is the largest publisher of newspapers in British Columbia[6] and in Washington state.[1] It also owns several weeklies associated with its daily properties in Alberta and Hawaii.


Black Press owns the daily Red Deer Advocate and several neighboring weekly newspapers in Central Alberta, in addition to various local tourism and lifestyle publications. Newspapers in Black's Prairie Division are:[7]

British Columbia[edit]

Black's original acquisitions form the core of the 320,552-circulation BC Interior Division, whose holdings extend 1,360 km from Trail near the Washington border to Smithers near the southern tip of Alaska. The wine country publications Grapes to Wine and Wine Trails are also part of this group. Following is a list of the group's community newspapers, most of which are biweekly, weekly, semiweekly or thrice-weekly, although the group also includes three small daily newspapers in Trail, Cranbrook and Kimberley:[8]

Publications in Black's BC Lower Mainland Division circulate a total of 568,200 copies per week in the Vancouver area. This group includes the Chilliwack Progress, founded in 1891, which claims to be the oldest Canadian community newspaper continuously published under the same name. The group includes the lifestyle and real estate publications Indulge Magazine, New Home Living, New Local Home, North Shore Real Estate, and the following community newspapers:[9]

The BC Vancouver Island Division includes the entertainment weekly Where Magazine and Real Estate Victoria, both covering Victoria, British Columbia and vicinity, and the following community newspapers:[10]

Hawaii and California[edit]

In addition to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the largest daily newspaper in Hawaii, Black Press' subsidiary Oahu Publishing Inc. also community newspapers, the entertainment weekly MidWeek, HILuxury magazine, and prints military newspapers for U.S. bases in Hawaii. Oahu Publishing took full ownership of the San Francisco Media Company in 2014.


Sound Publishing Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press based in Poulsbo, Washington, is the largest community news publisher by circulation in the state of Washington.[11] The company's holdings include two daily newspapers, The Herald and the Peninsula Daily News, as well as the Tacoma Daily Index government listings publication; The Bellingham Business Journal; the Little Nickel and Nickel Ads classified listings; the military publications Kitsap Navy News and Whidbey Crosswind; The Bellevue Scene magazine; and Recreationland, a tourist guide. All of Sound Publications' products are printed at a central press plant in Everett, Washington. Community newspapers owned by Sound Publishing are:[12]

Online Classifieds[edit][edit]

In 2007[13] the Black Press purchased[14] a Canadian online classified website with popular sites in Victoria, B.C., P.E.I, and Ottawa, ON.


Nisga'a Treaty editorials[edit]

n 1998, company owner David Black instructed his British Columbia papers to publish a series of editorials opposing the Nisga'a Treaty, which was the first modern treaty in B.C. history, and not to publish editorials in favour of the treaty.

In January 1999, the NDP government filed a complaint to the B.C. Press Council against Black Press, arguing that its policy breached its duty to act in the public interest and violated the council's constitution. Black Press said that news coverage was not affected and editors were free to publish their opinions on their letters page.

The Press Council sided with Black Press based on finding that its newspapers "did in fact carry a diversity of opinion on the Nisga'a Treaty, including those of Premier Glen Clark, Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell, Reform Party President Bill Vander Zalm as well as those of ordinary British Columbians".[15]

Advertiser concerns[edit]

In August 2007, a story in the Victoria News sparked a complaint from an advertiser and led to the firing/resignation of three senior Black Press employees. Victoria News reporter Brennan Clarke quit the publication after a story he wrote about buying cheaper cars in the United States led to a complaint from Victoria car dealership Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC. Black Press claimed the article was not balanced, and said that reporters and editors should not purposely jeopardize advertising revenue with their stories, because that revenue pays their salaries. The company also fired the Victoria News long-time editor, Keith Norbury, in part because of the complaint, and Black Press's Vancouver Island Newsgroup regional editor, Brian Lepine, resigned in protest.[16][17] The Canadian Association of Journalists publicly questioned the credibility and independence of the Victoria News, wondering how many stories Black Press kills behind the scenes because of advertising concerns.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ward, Don (July 16, 2008). "Betting on David Black". Seattle Weekly (Seattle, Wash.). Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ "San Francisco Examiner Sold to Black Press Group". The San Francisco Examiner. November 11, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Schaefers, Allison (June 7, 2010). "Star-Advertiser Owner Known for Embracing Risk". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ James, Andrea (December 28, 2006). "King County Journal to Close". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Field, Terry (July 15, 2010). "Closing of Two Small BC Dailies is Good Business, New Owners Say". Troy Media (Calgary, Alta.). Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Black Picks up Two B.C. Dailies". Vernon Morning Star (Vernon, B.C.). July 27, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Black Press Acquires More Central Alberta Publications". Red Deer Advocate (Red Deer, Alta.). June 23, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Black Press/BC Interior North & South". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Black Press/Lower Mainland". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Black Press/Vancouver Island". Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Sequim Newspaper Sells to Sound Publishing". Bremerton Patriot. November 1, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Sound Publishing Products". Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Smith, Charlie (March 4, 2010). "Black Press-owned Web site upsets Grand Chief David Harper with racist ad". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  16. ^ Public Eye Online - Black on Black
  17. ^ Lupick, Travis (Aug 29, 2007). "Black press dogged by ad controversy". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  18. ^ Public Eye Online - A question of credibility

External links[edit]