San Francisco – When you are passionate about your job, the day goes by fast.
You lose track of the time because you are knee deep in work. All the different projects, deadlines and requests can pull a person in different directions and can stress you out.
But not this woman. She was doing her job – an exemplary job – and she had no idea that there would be such an enthusiastic response when her promotion was announced.
“I was really surprised by the amount of attention my promotion got because of my gender and age,” Audrey Cooper said. “I told my husband on the day it was going to be announced that I might be home early because I don’t think anyone is going to care. I’ve been really humbled by the response.”
Cooper is the first woman to fill the role as editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle in the company’s 150-year history. She is also the youngest woman ever named as the top editor of a major U.S. newspaper company.
Cooper changed what is considered the normal for the news industry. She was promoted each year, starting in 2012.
As the managing editor, she raised the bar on many fronts. She was the driving force to investigate the mismanaged reconstruction of the Bay Bridge back in 2011.
The newspaper’s reporting led to the opening of the new bridge on September 2, 2013. The in-depth research that her newsroom accomplished has been phenomenal.
“The Bay Bridge and PG&E were the most challenging breaking news projects yet – but it was all for the people,” she explained.
Her dedication to challenge the status quo and push the envelope, led to the SF Chronicle being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 under Cooper’s leadership.
In that same year, she also started an in-house incubator project to transform the newsroom into a digitally focused operation that has successfully developed new storytelling techniques.
“I tell people all the time, I don’t read it in print first, I read it online,” Cooper said. “As long as people read the news, my job is done. Professional journalism is worth paying attention to. I work around the clock in order to make sure that happens.”
Cooper also continues to make time for the community, whether it is fighting a cause, raising money for the youth or exposing a leak in order to develop a better environment.
She is an editor-in-chief that feels that if she is part of the community, then the SF Chronicle is part of the community.
Because of her passion for the community, Cooper finds ways to be involved. A multimedia series on “Gentrification” in San Francisco’s Mission District is the current project.
In fact, right after speaking at Watermark’s first Women’s Conference held last month in Santa Clara, she headed over to the Mission District in the city to speak to about 300 people in the community.
“Everything we do is for the people – there is nothing more important than the community in which we live,” Cooper said. “There’s no limit to how much better we can be at the Chronicle. We will always strive to be the best.”