Herb Caen – Baghdad By The Bay

Herb Caen - San Francisco Chronicle Columnist

Three Dot Journalism…

As I was growing up in Marin County, the San Francisco Chronicle was THE paper in the house every day.  The credited inventor and grand master of the style of three dot journalism was none other than the Chron’s Herb Caen – a journalist without equal. I think Dad must have started me on a tradition. I was so fascinated by him and experiencing San Francisco through his eyes that I read his column every day before looking at the headlines or the cartoons.

I quote from the Chronicle’s achieves (1996):

 “The master of three-dot journalism brought a Pulitzer Prize home to Baghdad-by-the-Bay yesterday.

Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, whose daily doses of wit, news and love notes to San Francisco have arrived on readers’ doorsteps for almost 58 years, won a special Pulitzer award. In conferring the rare honor, the Pulitzer board said the prize recognizes Caen’s “extraordinary and continuing contribution as a voice and a conscience of his city.”

“I thought it was April Fool’s Day when the first phone call came to tell me,” Caen said with the stunned, happy look of a lottery winner, a few minutes after hearing the news.

A special Pulitzer Prize has been awarded to newspaper and magazine writers only four other times in the 79-year history of the awards, honoring such writers as Walter Lippmann and E. B. White. Caen’s award was The Chronicle’s fifth Pulitzer.”

Through Caen’s eyes, I firmly came to believe San Francisco is the greatest city in the world – a belief I think Dad shares with me. Dad describes his own writing as a poor attempt at three dot journalism. Actually, Dad would send an occasional bit of news and get into Caen’s column. And there is a copy of a part of one of brief mentions among the Tidbits. Life with Dad was a bit like a reflection of his three dot style. There were a lot of bits of trivia digested every night across the dinner table, fun, informative and on a multitude of topics. I probably heard more about Dad, his work and his world view as three dot snippets of items and then on to something else before you could blink.  He never talked much about his past, until later.

Herb Caen Link


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