Friday, May 01, 2009

The Chronicle Tour: Yes, There Were Neutron Bomb Jokes

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  (FILE PHOTO) Fr...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I thought the Chronicle tour yesterday was a success, if only because the students must have thought, "With all these empty cubicles, there must be room for me."

Actually, the nightmare vision of holes in the fabric of the newsroom was a little misleading. We showed up at 11 a.m., and things are busier 3p-11p, when the business of putting the paper together gets serious. But a lot of familiar faces were absent -- Rubenstein, Rubin, Carl Hall, Bonnie Lemon, Tom Meyer, plus all those who came after I left in '91 who have since moved on.

The highlight of the tour was an impromptu rant from living legend Carl Nolte (USF, class of Cambrian Era) who more or less told the kids that, lacking a business model, journalism was something they needed to put in their rear view mirrors. Our guide, the wonderful Nanette Asimov, listened for a bit and then gently disagreed, suggesting quality journalism would find its way -- e-paper, anyone? -- and that people would want it, that some "monetized" delivery method would emerge. She told the kids not to give up, not just yet, not if journalism was something for which they had Passion.

The ever cheerful Kevin Fagan wandered over and shared his impatience with the self-styled "journalists" who cluttered the weird press conference he'd covered the day before at which a woman announced her dad was the Zodiac killer. But covering the various loonies was so much fun, he manifested, and God knows he's done enough good grim work to justify his pleasure in the occasional loon-fest.

His contribution to the discussion was more one of mood: Who knows the future but so much fun in the job today.

I don't know what the kids thought. They'll tell me on Tuesday. If they show up.

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