Then along came a momentary tempest about a column I’d written for yesterday’s Chronicle that hadshown up briefly on SFGate, then disappeared. Of course erasers don’t work on the web, so the readable shadow of the column wasfully twitterizedand otherwisepassed aroundin an electronic heartbeat. Calls and emails came from the Bay Guardian, theSF Appeal, Gawker, sfist, KQED radio, etc. all asking if the thing had been censored because it was critical of a local politician.
Having been around awhile, I knew that some kind of ham-handed deletion for political reasons, juicy as it sounds, wasn’t the thief here. There was no artificially rippling flag in this scenario. It was human error, not intent.
Here’s what Chronicle editor Ward Bushee had to say:
Phil’s column was created from the start to be a print-only column in the Monday Chronicle. When we first started talking about the column, Phil and I agreed to try this as a low-stakes experiment. The experiment is not indicative of any larger plan by the Chronicle, SFGate or Hearst. It is not the start of a premium content initiative or a pay wall. But it was designed to test how different content models can serve different audiences. Each week Phil reaches a significant online audience with his blog, which is not available in print. By introducing a column by Phil that is different in its content and mission from his blog, we can see if it adds value to the printed paper by giving readers unique content that they could not get free online. As with any experiment, it will be evaluated at some point to see if we stick with it or change it.
Unfortunately, the brief appearance of the column on SFGate this week made some people think we were pulling it off because of the content. That was not the case. The column was posted for a short time on SFGate through a misunderstanding and then pulled down when it was discovered.SFGate Editor Vlae Kershner echoed that last part. A Gate staffer, he said, “didn’t know it was supposed to be embargoed and put it up.”
Thanks for forwarding the update Phil. We didn’t detect any manipulation; we just thought it was strange. Nevertheless, good piece and we still agree with your POV as it relates to the question, “where’s the list of Gavin’s young contemporaries who might actually fill out those size 14 public service shoes in interesting and effective ways with help from the pros?”
Keep on writing…