Longtime Chronicle staffer Heather Knight, who has been the paper's most-noted weekly columnist on San Francisco's foibles, politics, and more for the last five years, has landed a job as San Francisco bureau chief for the New York Times.
Starting in September, Knight will take over from Thomas Fuller, who has been SF bureau chief for the Times since 2016.
"Thrilled — with more than a twinge of sadness — to announce I'm leaving [the Chronicle]," Knight said in a confirmation tweet Monday morning. "I'll be the Times' lead writer covering San Francisco and Northern California starting in September. Can't wait!"
National Editor Jia Lynn Yang and California Editor Kevin Yamamura announced the news in a release Monday, saying that after Knight became a columnist in 2017, "She quickly became a must-read and local residents’ go-to journalist for tips, complaints and concerns about life in one of the world’s most fascinating and frustrating cities."
Yamamura tweeted, "We can't wait to begin working with Heather! I've been a fan of her reporting for years, and we're excited to add another Californian with extensive knowledge of the Bay Area and the state."
The Times editors make special note of how Knight made hay last year over that $1.7 million public toilet project in Noe Valley, which spurred action from Governor Gavin Newsom, and a subsequent cheaper version is now being built.
With her weekly columns — which have been less frequent since June — Knight came to fill the role vacated in 2016 by now semi-retired columnist C.W. Nevius. SFist noted Nevius's column on many occasions during his tenure as the Chronicle's resident curmudgeon, serving as a kind of pragmatic, let's-quit-this-progressive-nonsense voice as he often wrote about the city's homeless and drug problems.
Knight has typically taken a softer approach, though her wars of words with the progressive wing of the Board of Supervisors have been notable, as she, Nevius-style, called them out for kowtowing to NIMBYs and slow-rolling housing development in general.
Fuller, in his role as SF bureau chief, has at times sounded tired of San Francisco and ready to move on to some other assignment. This was most evident in 2020 when he was stuck covering his fourth consecutive bad wildfire season.
"Some residents here have the same feeling of powerlessness [as I do], a sense that this will come every year no matter what anyone does," Fuller wrote at the time.
Now, the Chronicle's opinion desk will need to shift someone else into the role of bureaucracy cop, or whatever you want to call it. And the Times will gain a bureau chief with deep knowledge of this city — Knight has been at the Chronicle since 1999.
Photo: Heather Knight/Twitter