[Second part of a two-parter on the papers — read part one: The Papers]
Earlier this year I was in San Francisco, and found myself with an hour to kill at the ferry terminal, over a cold beer and the pleasingly tall and slender format of the San Francisco Chronicle. At first glance it seemed like a decent paper - interesting stories, well-designed. But in the self-styled 'digital capital' that is the Bay Area, and with the gloomy pronouncements about American newspapers in particular, it’s hard to believe its circulation is going anywhere but south.
A month or so later, I made sure I ordered another San Francisco newspaper, the San Francisco Panorama. This isn’t a daily newspaper, and probably won’t make it beyond issue one - but that’s on purpose. It’s a prototype of a newspaper, designed to demonstrate that such things are still viable. And it’s an extraordinary piece of work.
In this core mission, it just about succeeds. It tries to demonstrate that it's possible to make a newspaper, and a local one at that, financially and creatively viable. Despite its leviathan form - which the creators are clear wouldn’t be sustainable - it easily conveys the creative possibilities in the format. Here, interestingly, it’s a hybrid, drawing much from the culture of the web as well as newspapers. And it’s beautifully designed, with a wonderful range. It feels utterly alive, and convincing, in this respect.