120th Anniversary Edition: The Foghorn in the 1980s

Photo courtesy of John Shanley. 

The Foghorn saw a period of computers and commentary in the late 1980s under the leadership of John Shanley, who served as editor-in-chief from 1988 to 1989. 

According to Shanley, 1988 was the first year the Foghorn went desktop, using Apple Macintosh to layout the paper on a computer as opposed to their previous practice, which involved using an exacto-knife on boards. “The first issue, especially, was very crazy and chaotic, because we had never done it that way before,” Shanley said. “But I do believe that’s the year the Foghorn really sort of came into the modern age.” 

A major goal of Shanley’s as editor-in-chief was to introduce more diverse viewpoints to the paper. “The first thing I said to my editorial staff is ‘let there be no bounds. I want crazy left wing stuff, I want crazy right wing stuff. I want crazy diversity of thought.’” 

As 1988 was a presidential election year, Shanley described the Foghorn as being filled with election coverage and political commentary. Shanely even had the opportunity of interviewing Democratic presidential nominee at the time, Michael Dukakis, in a preview leading up to the election.

“We also bashed George Bush a lot,” Shanley recalled. “On the last day of his campaign, I remember he toured a hot dog factory, and on the front page of our election issue I wrote something to the effect of ‘I feel like [Bush] would best serve the country if he had just jumped into the hot dog vat while at the factory.’” 

Shanely said of the choice for the cover, “That wasn’t really something they would’ve run the year before.” 

After graduating, Shanley went into politics. He previously worked under former San Francisco Mayor Francis Jordan. Today, he works as a lawyer. Reflecting on his time at the Foghorn, Shanley said “I look back at it all very fondly, I sure don’t say ‘oh, that was a waste of time’… it was one of the more rewarding things I ever did.” 

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