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Audrey Cooper Named First-Ever Female Editor-in-Chief at San Francisco Chronicle

Under 37-Year-Old's Leadership, Paper Has Prioritized Investigative Journalism

By Published on .

Audrey Cooper is the first female editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle
Audrey Cooper is the first female editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle

Audrey Cooper was named editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday, making her the first woman to hold this role in the paper's 150-year history. At 37, she is also believed to be the youngest woman to ever run a major U.S. paper, according to the Chronicle.

She succeeds Ward Bushee, who retired in 2013. Ms. Cooper had been acting editor-in-chief, though her title was managing editor. The appointment is effective immediately.

Female editors-in-chief are something of a rarity at the nation's top newspapers. For instance, the top editors at The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune are all men. In 2011, Jill Abramson became the first woman to hold the executive editor position at The New York Times, but she was dismissed last year.

Ms. Cooper joined the Chronicle in 2006. Under her leadership, the newspaper has prioritized investigative journalism and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2014.

"This year we will grow our investigative reporting staff while continuing to evolve our storytelling methods in order to best engage with our millions of print and online readers," she said in a statement.

The Chronicle, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this week, is owned by Hearst Corp. Its average weekday print circulation declined 7% to 142,000 copies per issue through the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2014, the most recent data available, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Sunday print circulation fell 14.6% to 278,000 copies.

Ms. Cooper intends to expand the paper's website, which attracted 17.4 million unique visitors in November across desktop and mobile, according to ComScore. That's a 42% increase over the prior year.

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