Meet the Media – Michael Gray, San Francisco Chronicle

Michael Gray, Enterprise & Investigations Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle

What’s your top priority at work today?
In my new role as managing editor, it seems like everything is suddenly my top priority. But essentially my priority every day is trying to help The Chronicle find the best enterprise and investigative stories we can, get them reported and make sure they are presented in the best way possible for both print and digital readers. Oh, and to keep a sharp eye out for those troublesome “alternative facts.”

Tell us about your dream assignment.
At this stage in my career – I have been working in newspapers pretty much constantly, with a few small hiccups along the way, for nearly 40 years – it is a dream to still be able to come into a newsroom every day and be part of a place that wants to do ambitious work and makes an impact on our community. But short of that, I’d spend a season helping cover Steph Curry and the Warriors.

Describe one of the wackiest proposals/ideas you’ve been sent.
Boy, it’s been a while since I was getting pitched several times a day by PR people flogging all manner of crazy ideas, so nothing comes immediately to mind. I try to respond or pass along anything – however crazy – that might have some merit for someone I work with. But sometimes there are those pitches that just make you shake your head and hit the delete button.

What is your PR/marketing pet peeve?
Even as the world moves faster and faster, it can really benefit anyone making a pitch to try to take time to suss out who’s the best person to contact before sending it along. And to try to understand how a newspaper (or any media organization) functions internally. As the investigative editor, for instance, I’m just not the best person to contact about a new brand of cosmetics.

What’s a top industry trend you’re currently following or are interested in?
If you mean my industry, I am most interested these days in how we’re responding to the perception that mainstream media is not trustworthy, a perception being fed daily by the current presidential administration, among others. We have to walk a line between sticking up for ourselves and not overreacting. But the days when we could take it for granted that people understood what we do and why we do it – and how crucial that can be to the functioning of our society – are long gone. We have to be better advocates for ourselves – and be more consistent than ever in how we do our jobs.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a California native, born and educated in Berkeley (a Cal grad), but have lived and worked all over during my career: Hartford, Baltimore, Atlanta, Hawaii. I’m married to a fabulous woman who reminds me every day that I’m luckier than I deserve. I am a history and architecture buff, particularly partial to the Arts & Crafts era, which is partly why I live in an old, drafty house in my hometown.

Questions or comments for Michael? Leave a comment below or tweet @GrayMikeG.

6 thoughts on “Meet the Media – Michael Gray, San Francisco Chronicle

  1. Michael,
    Thank you for the post. I think it is astonishing how mainstream media has been besmirched when it is and will always be a vital part of our democracy. I agree, the media has to be its own strongest advocate and educate people about what true journalism is.
    Sean

  2. It certainly is difficult to find the balancing act between defending your outlet and not overreacting. Fortunately, most respectable media organizations seem to be going about it in the right way so far. Thanks for the blog!

  3. Michael – As a PR guy, I agree that “traditional media” needs to be a better advocate for itself. We do this with our clients: figure out the most persuasive message and learn how to deliver it effectively. If I were advising “mainstream media,” I’d make sure they continue to re-iterate how important vetted stories with editorial oversight are to making informed decisions – and to our democracy as a whole. Keep up the good work at the SF Chronicle! Cheers, David Landis

  4. Thanks for the insightful blog — especially coming from a fellow Berkeley educated, California native! I look forward to reading more of your work.

  5. Michael,

    Thank you for posting on our blog and thank you for being an upstanding journalist!

    Just know that LCI will support journalism 100%.

    Best,
    Nick

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