Heralding the Panorama

Lila LaHood selling the Panorama.
Lila selling Panoramas like hotcakes in front of the San Francisco Chronicle. Photo by Christopher D. Cook/SF Public Press.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday to meet the San Francisco Panorama delivery truck at the McSweeney's office on Valencia Street. I had recruited half a dozen Public Press volunteers to sell copies of the singular single-edition broadsheet newspaper on street corners near our SoMa office. I might have lingered in bed, as the shipment from Paradise (near Chico Sacramento) was delayed a few hours, and then delayed again when the delivery truck got stuck in traffic on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge; this inspired much giggling in the Public Press office, since our reporters had spent three months reporting the Panorama cover story all about the troubled span.

After filling my gas tank and killing time with gingerbread and coffee, I headed to McSweeney’s to wait for the delivery. About 20 staff members and interns perched around the room. They wore bright yellow Panorama T-shirts meant to identify them as “newsies” when they hit the streets to hawk papers. Every mumble about the location of the delivery truck reverberated around the room. 

When the truck finally arrived around 11 a.m., the driver parked in Valencia’s middle lane and the newsies in their sunny T-shirts spilled into the street like so many chicks scrambling for scratch.

Fellow Public Presser Chris Cook and I loaded boxes into my car and headed for Fifth and Mission streets. My brother, Mike LaHood, stopped by to get Panoramas to sell in front of City Hall.

And then the papers started flying. Any concerns that we might have trouble selling a $5 newspaper on the street in San Francisco quickly dissolved. Our easiest sales at Fifth and Mission went to San Francisco Chronicle reporters on lunch break (we were stationed 20 feet from their front door) and to McSweeney’s fans pedaling up on bikes breathlessly explaining that nearby newsies had sold out of their paper stock. 

By mid-afternoon our Panoramas were gone, too. We had to dip into the Public Press reserves to get copies to Chronicle editors and columnists who wanted to inspect the hefty newsprint newborn.

I was excited about the arrival of the Panorama — as an avid reader and McSweeney’s fan, journalist and dedicated public media reformer — and felt bolstered by the communal sense of enthusiasm about this beautiful, content-rich, ponderous (at more than 3 lbs.) tribute to the best of print media traditions and bold expression of journalistic aspiration.


Photos by Steve Rhodes. (Embedded slideshow created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.)

Media coverage of the San Francisco Panorama mentioning the Bay Bridge Report:

San Francisco Panorama — “Forum” with Michael Krasny, KQED Public Radio (12/8/09)

Dave Eggers, newspaper publisher? — David Ulin, Los Angeles Times (12/8/09)
San Francisco Panorama hits the streets — Steven T. Jones, San Francisco Bay Guardian (12/8/09)
Panorama!! — JD Beltran, SFGate.com (12/8/09)
McSweeney’s “Panorama” Newspaper Arrives -- With Special Probe of SF Bay Bridge Project — Editor & Publisher (12/8/09)
McSweeney’s Bay Bridge Investigative Report Released — Jay Barmann, SFist.com (12/8/09)
Case Study in Collaboration: Spot.Us, Public Press and McSweeney’s — David Cohn, PBS MediaShift Idea Lab (12/8/09)
Dave Eggers’ One-Day-Only Newspaper — Stacey Delo, MarketWatch (12/8/09)
A heartbreaking work of newspaper genius -- at $16 a pop — Will Bunch, Philly.com (12/8/09)
McSweeney’s San Francisco Panorama Sells Out Immediately — Rhonda Winter, Eco Localizer (12/8/09)
Too Big to Comprehend — Andy J. Wang, Curbed SF (12/8/09)
The Expense of Fixing the Bay Bridge — Michelle Quinn, New York Times Bay Area Blog (12/9/09)
The Birth of Panorama, a Drink and Then Sleep — Anna Bloom and Gerry Shih, New York Times Bay Area Blog (12/9/09)
McSweeney’s looks to save print; 320 page newspaper results — Betsey Reinsborough, Editorsweblog.com (12/9/09)
Wednesday Foodie Edition — Armand Emamdjomeh, Mission Loc@l (12/9/09)
Getting Misty-Eyed Over Dave Eggers Newspaper Experiment — Elizabeth C., Crabbygolightly.com (12/09)
The SF Bay Bridge: Made in China and Costing a Fortune — Marian Wang, Mother Jones (12/10/09)
A newspaper to inspire you all over again — Alan Mutter, Reflections of a Newsosaur (12/10/09)
SF Panorama: Definitely Worth the $16 — Jess Hemerly, 7x7 (12/10/09)
McSweeney’s Proves Print Isn’t Dead — Claire Suddath, Time (12/11/09)
SF Panorama offers a 21st century model for newspapers — Zoe Corneli, “Crosscurrents” on KALW News (12/15/09)

Include interest when reporting projects' cost, Rosalind Gammon, Businessjournalism.org (12/14/09)