Here in San Francisco, we take advantage of newspapers. It’s easy to get caught up in endless listicles online, click-holing ourselves right into the void, or get buried in pages and pages of clickbait viral content. Avoiding politics isn’t hard. Shirking off social issues is as simple as X-ing out of a browser window.
We know politically-minded publications exist. The San Francisco Bay Guardian, the consistent beacon of local progressive opinions for nearly 50 years, was proof of that.
However, we vastly underestimate their value, and that has finally cost us the loss of an important local publication.
Today, editors and freelancers for The San Francisco Bay Guardian were informed that the San Francisco Media Company (which also owns the Examiner and SF Weekly) would be pulling funding from the newspaper effective tomorrow, October 15, 2014. “Unfortunately, the economic reality is such that the Bay Guardian is not a viable business and has not been for many years,” SFMC’s publisher Glenn Zuehls said.
“The San Francisco Bay Guardian has been an important progressive voice in the city since 1966,” Editor-in-Chief Steven T. Jones told CBS Local today. “San Francisco will be diminished by its loss, especially now, in a time where those with economic and political power are destroying the city. It’s a sad day for the city of San Francisco.”
Since SFBG had been acquired, the publication had hired seven employees and enlisted between 6-10 regular freelancers. The dismissed full-time staff has been offered “a small severance package” and two in-house editors have been offered the opportunity to transfer to a sister publication. They are reportedly weighing their options.
The site has released a statement reporting their closure, announcing their pride in their “legacy as a community watchdog” and their relentless “push for a better city.”
The paper, as they themselves eloquently put it, “gave a voice to many in the city who might have been otherwise shut out of the corridors of power, kept countless city leaders honest and inspired a new breed of journalism across the nation.”
Stuart Schuffman, a regular contributor who ran The Weeknighter column for the publication would agree. “Whether people liked it or not or had the same views, it was San Francisco’s conscience. As things rolled on, it became more about politics,” Schuffman said. “It wasn’t pithy reviews. It wasn’t the Buzzfeed of the world, but apparently that wasn’t a sustainable model anymore.”
But there is hope for a revival. According to Jones, they are looking at resuscitating the paper when the dust settles. “Depending on how the transition goes, we’ve been told that The Guardian will be for sale.”
Most importantly, Jones, like other long-time supporters are hoping to save the website to continue to be a voice of reason for the progressive community. “We have a strong interest in bringing back the website and particularly our political endorsements, which are very popular,” Jones said. “We’d like [our readers] to continue to have access to that.”
Jones says that The Guardian will release a more detailed statement later today or tomorrow morning.