Phil Bronstein is a seasoned American journalist and editor, well recognised for his work as an investigative journalist and war correspondent. He is one of the key persons of the Emeryville-based non-profit news organization, the ‘Center for Investigative Reporting,’ (CIR) where he presently serves as executive chair of its board. He commenced his professional career as a reporter for the ‘KQED-TV’ in San Francisco and later joined the daily newspaper, ‘The San Francisco Examiner,’ as a beat reporter. For eight years he covered conflict areas across the globe as a foreign correspondent, including serving in the Philippines. His reporting on the fall of Filipino politician and kleptocrat, Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled Philippines as a dictator, got his name among the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1986. Bronstein has also won several other awards, including from the ‘Media Alliance’ and the ‘World Affairs Council’ for his work in the Philippines. He also served in important positions in ‘The San Francisco Examiner’, ‘San Francisco Chronicle’, and ‘Hearst Newspapers Corporation’ before becoming the executive chair of the board for the CIR.
Childhood & Early Life
Phil Bronstein was born on October 4, 1950, in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US. Not much information is available on his family background or parents.
During his childhood, Bronstein relocated quite often along with his family. He spent his youth mostly in Montreal, Canada, and later settled in California. He enrolled at the University of California, Davis, but did not complete his graduation. He first got the taste of journalism at the University of California. He wrote film reviews for the school paper. .
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His first professional job was for the ‘KQED-TV’ in San Francisco, where he joined as a reporter.
In 1980, he was inducted as beat reporter in the daily newspaper, ‘The San Francisco Examiner,’ flagship of the Hearst Corporation chain. For the next eight years, he visited conflict areas across the globe, including the Philippines, El Salvador, Peru, and the Middle East, and reported as a foreign correspondent.
He reported the overthrow of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986 as President. This reporting earned him a place as one of the finalists of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 1986. He also garnered awards from Media Alliance, World Affairs Council, the Overseas Press Club and the Associated Press for his work in the Philippines.
He was elevated to the position of executive editor by the ‘The San Francisco Examiner’ in 1991. He served the post for almost a decade till 2000.
The brave heart Bronstein once geared himself up in a scuba gear in 1996 to help in capturing an alligator that escaped into a city lake. The police, however, restricted him from getting into such a dangerous operation.
On July 27, 2000, Hearst Corporation acquired the ‘San Francisco Chronicle,’ which primarily serves the San Francisco Bay Area and considered a major daily paper that covers the city and as well as county of San Francisco. Hearst, the owner of ‘The San Francisco Examiner’ then resolved to merge the two rival newsrooms.
In November 2000, Bronstein was made the Senior Vice President and Executive Editor of ‘San Francisco Chronicle.’ Bronstein faced the challenge of developing trust and consensus among the members of the two erstwhile rival news teams. It was a challenging task as the merger happened at a time when there was a general decline in the newspaper industry.
He went on to develop new features, made changes in staffing and also tried to develop ‘San Francisco Chronicle’ in line with the Internet era while keeping the cultural perspective of the Bay Area intact. He cut down the staff and the daily paper content was also reduced.
He was made editor-at-large for both the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’ and Hearst Newspapers. He penned down a weekly column for the ‘San Francisco Chronicle.’ Blog entries for SFGate.com were also written by him.
In March 2012, he left the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’ and Hearst Newspapers. Meanwhile in 2011 he was named the Chairman of the Board of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Following his tenure with the ‘San Francisco Chronicle,’ his role was expanded at the CIR.
Bronstein has married four times and his married life has been followed closely by the tabloid media.
On February 14, 1998, he married famous American actress producer, and former fashion model, Sharon Stone. In 2000, the couple adopted a baby boy called Roan Joseph Bronstein. In 2003, the couple separated as Bronstein cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for filing divorce. The divorce was finalized on January 29, 2004, and although initially Bronstein and Stone shared joint custody of Roan, full custody of the latter was given to Bronstein by a judge in 2008.
He suffered an attack by a Komodo dragon at the Los Angeles Zoo in 2001 while on a private tour. Bitten by the dragon on his bare foot, Bronstein had to go through surgery to reattach several tendons in his foot.
He married Christine Borders in 2006. Her father, Louis Border, is the co-founder of the ‘Borders Book Store.’ Christine founded the social network for women, ‘A Band of Wives.’ Bronstein has two children with Christine.