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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Photo of Joanne Bradford by Genevieve Shiffrar Photo of Joanne Bradford by Genevieve Shiffrar

Masters of the Media: Joanne Bradford

The new president of the San Francisco Chronicle is a Daily Aztec alumna.

"Masters of the Media" is featured in the fall 2013 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University.

Joanne Bradford, ’86, is settling into a corner office at the San Francisco Chronicle at a challenging time for the newspaper industry.

With print advertising and sales declining, the traditional media has moved online to generate new revenue, readership and return on investment.

The Chronicle posted a clear head start in 1994 with the launch of SFGate, one of the earliest major market newspaper websites.

Now the company expects Bradford—recently appointed president—to take its virtual presence to the next level. With skills honed at Microsoft, Yahoo and Demand Media, she brings the experience to forge new revenue pathways for the Hearst Corporation’s second largest daily paper. (The Houston Chronicle is No. 1.)

“One of my goals at the Chronicle,” Bradford said, “is to create products that merge the digital and print worlds. I don’t think the art of good storytelling will isappear, but the way we go about it is forever changed. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are the newsstands of today. News is everywhere; the challenge is getting people to
your site.”

The Bradford brand—smart, collaborative and forward-thinking—evolved at SDSU in the mid-1980s. She was a transfer student, majoring in journalism/advertising, and looking for a campus community of like-minded students. The Daily Aztec became a second home.

“The offices were set up with the writing staff on one side and the advertising staff on the other. Only one side got paid, and that’s where I wanted to be,” she recalled.

After graduation, Bradford joined Business Week and rose to vice president of sales and marketing before moving to Microsoft. There she was part of a new media brain trust, driving the company’s transformation from Internet portal into web-based service provider.

At Microsoft, Bradford worked with fellow Aztec Blake Irving, who became a good friend. Now CEO of, Irving respects Bradford’s talent for getting things done.

“I built the platform that Joanne used to sell ads. We had a shared vision and a shared strategy. She has super cool ideas, but the difference between Joanne and other people is that she can turn her ideas into substance.”

Bradford also encouraged Microsoft to sponsor the first Live Earth concert in 2007, a mega-event broadcasting 150 musical acts in 11 locations to a mass global audience through television, radio and online. In those early YouTube days, she said, it was proof to advertisers that viewers would watch live stream video.

In a world that values this kind of foresight and confidence, Bradford has advanced to what may be the most challenging task she’s ever faced—creating a distinctive virtual identity for the Chronicle in a region that encompasses Silicon Valley, cradle of uber-successful tech ventures.

“There aren’t many companies that get to put San Francisco in their name,” Bradford reflected. “I’m hoping we can own the brand in a way that incorporates technology, food, philanthropy, sports; in short, everything that makes this city the entrepreneurial capital of the world.”

Read about another Daily Aztec alum who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.