When Weirdness Raises Questions


A political campaign office is now occupying the lobby of a decommissioned television station studio in San Francisco.

This would be a non-issue if the TV station in question didn’t air a newscast. However, KRON has a News Department. Although the broadcaster’s operations have moved out of the studio on Van Ness Avenue, signs with the call letters are still on the outside of the building.

Some passersby probably assume campaigning and news reporting are intermingling. However, anyone who walks by often enough should at least suspect the studio isn’t used by the station anymore. The lobby entrance was locked for awhile, and in general the 1950s-era building looks even creepier than it used to.

KRON’s employees now work in the local ABC building, located on the Embarcadero.

KRON has been in precarious financial shape since the 1990s, and lost its NBC affiliation in 2001. After functioning as an independent for a few years, in 2006 KRON became an affiliate of the Rupert Murdoch-owned MyNetworkTV.

I don’t know whether the building on Van Ness is owned by KRON’s current owner, Media General. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Commercial broadcasters sell advertising time (some of it during newscasts) to political campaigns, and maybe renting out building space is no different.

It just doesn’t look good. Is this disturbing only because we aren’t used to it, or is there really something wrong? Whether or not Media General owns the building, shouldn’t the landlord have removed signs identifying the building as a news outlet before bringing in a tenant? It’s unlikely the signage on the Van Ness building shares the same historical status as the city’s architectural gems, so removing it shouldn’t have been a problem.

If there’s something I haven’t been told and the KRON building on Van Ness has landmark status, please hand me a barf bag.

On a related topic:

One particular newspaper which I used to respect is now selling Native Advertising. Sometimes it’s called Sponsored News Content. You get the idea. It pays the bills, but poses a conflict of interest because an advertiser is in charge of something being passed off as journalism.

My father worked in newspaper advertising, and he didn’t believe advertisers had that much clout where journalism was concerned. He said the worst bias in news reporting resulted from pressure inflicted by ultra-conservative newspaper publishers and station owners. It should be added that my father worked for relatively small papers and sold ads to independent businesses, and he never worked in broadcasting. His experience may not have reflected what happens in high profile media.

I’d like to hear from anyone who knows about this situation with the Van Ness building. Is the location of Hillary Clinton’s San Francisco campaign office a problem, or not?  By the way, we already know what Donald Trump would say, and there’s no sense in wasting time with that.

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