In Reporter’s Note Book, Duffy Jennings weaves the political, criminal, public, and personal events of the 1970s into a masterful reflection on the heart of a turbulent Bay Area.
In this powerful narrative, Duffy paints a dramatic portrait of a time and place that is by turns exceptionally dramatic and poignant, all bolstered by his uncanny memory and tender wit.
Among Duffy’s assignments: political assassinations, serial murders, major fires, gangland crime, labor union strife, city government news and more.
Duffy’s front page coverage included the 1978 city hall killings, the shocking trial of Dan White, the Zebra murders, the Patty Hearst kidnap, taunting letters from the Zodiac killer, and life as an embedded reporter with fire fighters and homicide detectives.
From a sixty-two-dollar-a-week copyboy to reporting on the most shocking stories of the time, Duffy Jennings takes us into the maelstrom of the Bay Area in upheaval in the 1970s. Here are previews of Reporter’s Note Book:
Duffy Jennings’ riveting coverage of the Moscone-Milk murders and the Dan White trial was an arduous reporting job and daily journalism at its finest. His account of a reporter’s life makes for vivid reading.
—David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle City Editor, 1977-1978
Duffy Jennings’ memoir of the turbulent ’60s and ’70s in the Bay Area is incisive and compelling. There is a “Forrest Gump” feel to how he was at the center of so many major events. Anyone who has experienced the horrors of addiction will find his experiences with the effect of alcohol to be enlightening. Jennings’ recollections of his mother’s gay bar in San Francisco are priceless.”
—Leigh Steinberg, Sports Agent
Duffy Jennings wrote more than 500 stories for the San Francisco Chronicle, but he may have saved the best one — his own — for last. Written with admirable skill and moral clarity, his memoir reveals what it was like to cover a city gripped by the Zodiac and Zebra killings, Jonestown, the Moscone-Milk assassinations, and the Dan White trial. But this isn’t only a sharp, vivid snapshot of a city in crisis. It’s also a family saga that defies stereotypes at every turn.
—Peter Richardson, San Francisco State University lecturer and author of A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America
Duffy Jennings brings the reader inside the San Francisco Chronicle newsroom directly to his reporter’s typewriter to present valuable insights into events during the most turbulent, chaotic decade in San Francisco’s modern history. He adds a very gutsy human dimension with intense and painful personal revelations even as he was writing the stories that mesmerized us during his prolific career.
—Art Agnos, former Mayor of San Francisco
In this insightful retrospective, Jennings’ writing today is as fresh, compact and compelling as it was during his time as the Chron’s go-to front-page scribe. Jennings tells his story with an unflinching eye buoyed by raw honesty and introspection. This nexus of fascinating biography and authentic journalism makes for a page-turning read that will not only move you, but will have you wishing for more when it ends.
Duffy Jennings gives us an unsparing look at what it was like covering this crap show for the Chronicle while trying to maintain his mental balance as his coldly brilliant mother was slowly drinking herself to death with regular flourishes of suicide threats and genuine attempts.
For me, a Northern California Boomer who grew up in the 60s & 70s, Jennings nailed what it felt like to live through those crazy times. I can’t recommend this book enough!
It is the book all journalists wish they could have written, but we don’t have Duffy Jennings’ talent. Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Why the heck not?
It’s a triumph as a memoir and a brilliant account of his time at The San Francisco Chronicle back in the paper’s heyday in the roaring 1970s.
Duffy Jennings stands out as a gifted reporter who made the most of his unique perspective, skill, access, craftsmanship, and opportunities. His accounts are as vivid today as they were when he wrote them in the 70s, with the added bonus of today’s context. A terrific read.
Seeing the big stories of the decade through the eyes of someone who was in the middle of it all is a rare opportunity.
“The ten days in November, 1978” left me so moved I had to stop and catch my breath….and wipe my eyes, too.
It’s a compelling read that kept me up late for a couple of nights because I couldn’t put it down, and it has a heart-warming ending that left me smiling.
PBC In Conversation
On Marin TV: Retired reporter and author Duffy Jennings discusses his new book Reporter’s Note Book and recalls his times writing for the San Francisco Chronicle with Peter B. Collins.
Peninsula Television’s The Game with Mark Simon and Kevin Mullin
If the 1960s were about peace and love, the 1970s were some of the most turbulent days in the history of the Bay Area. And Duffy Jennings was an eyewitness to it all. The Milk/Moscone murders, the Zodiac, the Zebra killings, the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the Dan White verdict – for anyone who lived in the Bay Area during the 1970s, it is remembered as a decade of violence, turmoil and even fear.
As a young, talented reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Duffy Jennings found himself, time and again, assigned the task of witnessing these remarkable events and making sense of it all for us in the next day’s newspaper. He has written a terrific book on those decades, including the toll they took on him personally. It’s called Reporter’s Note Book: A San Francisco Chronicle Journalist’s Diary of the Shocking Seventies, published by Grizzly Peak Press and available on Amazon. It captures those turbulent and frightening days to great effect. He’s still a great reporter.
TALK OF THE TOWN FEATURING DUFFY JENNINGS
A prize-winning writer for the San Francisco Chronicle in the tumultuous 1970s, Duffy Jennings has compiled his stories into a must-read diary, Reporter’s Note Book. In a one-on-one interview with host Michael Jacobi, Duffy shares some of his in-depth journalistic coverage of the Patty Hearst kidnapping, the Zodiac and Zebra serial murders, the City Hall assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk and Jonestown. Jennings is a Bay area local, founder of Los Gatos Magazine, and winner of a myriad of awards.
A prize-winning writer for the San Francisco Chronicle in the tumultuous 1970s, Duffy Jennings covered the Patty Hearst kidnapping, the Zodiac and Zebra serial murders, and the City Hall assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Jennings also covered major fires, gangland crime, labor union strife, city government news and more. In Reporter’s Note Book, Jennings weaves the political, criminal, public and personal events of the 1970s into a masterful reflection on the heart of a turbulent Bay Area, all bolstered by his uncanny memory and tender wit.