Sean Penn, the infamously famous irascible movie star, has filed a five part series on Iran that is running in the San Francisco Chronicle this week. His star power attracts, and the first day story drew 350,000 hits on the paper’s website.
But what is it like editing a star known for his quick temper? Jon Friedman of MarketWatch wrote a story about the series and he asked the executive editor Phil Bronstein and Datebook editor David Weigand about the experience.
“Bronstein said Penn proved to be an accommodating correspondent. "It was a very collaborative process - all peaceful," Bronstein said.”
Not everyone is pleased, according to Friedman.
“Still, the word going around San Francisco is that some journalists in the city (including, I hear, a bunch at the Chronicle) have muttered that Penn's reporting from Iraq represented a cool one-off shot for the paper, but the current series has questionable journalistic value. Maybe they're just jealous of Penn.
When I asked Bronstein if anyone would confuse Penn with, say, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist David Broder, he replied evenly: "We're not presenting him as David Broder. He is an actor and director who is presenting his perspective to the readers in a diary form."
Bronstein waved off the carping that a movie star can't be a serious commentator. "Particularly in this age (of) citizen journalists and blogs, it's pretty silly criticism," Bronstein said.”