The end of an era, but not of a legacy

As the new publisher, I want the Guardian's future as a progressive voice to be assured.

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Tim Redmond has a big heart. He cares deeply about this city and he cared deeply about this newspaper. But last Thursday was Tim's last day at the Bay Guardian, the place where he worked for the bulk of the past three decades. In typical fashion, he stuck to his principles to the end.

The Guardian is not as economically healthy as it once was, and 2013 has not been kind to the paper. Revenues are down and many issues lose money, a trend that threatens our mission if left unchecked. During the past month, Guardian management had been contemplating some painful but necessary changes that included layoffs. Tim participated in these discussions, but in the end he chose to resign rather than downsize a staff he loved like family.

I understand Tim's decision, but believe it was shortsighted. During the past year and a half, the Guardian's two sister papers — the San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly — have undergone similar restructuring, which included layoffs. The goal was not to extract obscene profits — a mission I wouldn't support even if it were still possible in 2013 — but rather to ensure both papers' survival and recovery. It was an unpleasant process, and one that Tim could not abide.

But today, the Examiner and Weekly are both significantly healthier than they used to be. The Examiner is no longer the mouthpiece of right-wing buffoons, and in recent months has expanded its Peninsula coverage and enlarged its editorial staff. And the Weekly boasts significantly more new coverage, listings and advertising than it did just six months ago.

I want the Guardian's future as a progressive voice to be similarly assured. So now, 32 years after selling my first freelance news article to the paper — a brief about BART's effort to evict the Ashby Flea Market — I find myself replacing Tim as publisher. Longtime Managing Editor Marke Bieschke, aka Marke B., is filling his shoes as interim editor.

I know some Guardian readers assume that this means the end of progressive journalism in the paper. Please let me assure you that will not occur. I have spent the bulk of my career editing investigative newsweeklies and have no intention of going down in history as the guy who dumbed-down the Guardian.

The very night before Tim told me he was leaving, he presided over a packed forum on the topic of economic dislocation in San Francisco. At the height of a tech boom that has inflated rents and led to a wave of migration and evictions, it's hard to imagine few other topics of greater importance. Tim and the Guardian have reported extensively on this issue in the year since the paper was acquired by the San Francisco Print Media Company. Of course, the Guardian was already writing about evictions long before Tim's predecessor assigned me to write that 1981 article about the flea market.

Under Tim's successor, that emphasis will not change.

 

Comments

Even as a self admitted moderate troll, I wish you luck in advancing your causes.

My problem with the Tim Redmond SFBG wasn't the causes that he advanced, but the lack of journalistic integrity. I'm sure that statement will cause some people to have a knee jerk reaction about such a terrible thing to say. But some examples:

1) When the 8 Washington developer used signature gatherers to get a ballot measure Tim made a big point of it, citing other causes that had also paid the same mercenaries and implying some type of connection to 8 Wash. Nowhere in the article did he mention that the 8 Wash opponents also made big use of signature gatherers. He was well aware when he was writing the post that he was criticizing the other side for doing the exact same thing that his side had done.

2) He published multiple big headlines accusing the Mayor of perjury, despite the fact that there was zero evidence that wasn't complete hearsay. When the situation is reversed he would always say that a Progressive victim was entitled to due process.

3) When he endorsed Julian Davis he admitted that he was aware of problems in Davis' past. But he made no effort to find out what they were before endorsing him. I think it was the SFWeekly who eventually did the leg work. An inexcusable #fail for someone who earns a living as an investigative journalist. You can't be that lazy and expect people to respect your endorsements.

4) He wrote a long post demonstrating how the (alleged) rude behavior of one Google bus person exemplified the flaws of an entire group of people. That same day a young black male committed a horrific act of violence in the East Bay. Do Redmond followers thereby believe that all young Black males have a similar flaw?

And then add upon that Steven's AirBNB nonsense. There is actually a Time article out now where they quote Steven's incorrect version and then they go on to interview Greg Kato of the city's tax department explaining how the process exists for HOSTS to pay the tax, not AirBNB, and how he works with the HOSTS to get his tax money. Palo Alto is asking AirBNB to help get the hosts to pay their TOT tax. It's embarrassing as a San Franciscan to see Steven's incorrect version repeated here ad nauseum.

http://business.time.com/2013/06/15/the-other-complication-for-airbnb-an...

So that's my issue. That the SFBG doesn't embarrass easily enough. But it needs to if it is going to survive.

Posted by Troll on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 9:46 am

Redmond had mostly given up in recent months anyway, and new blood was needed. A more moderate perspective, while still liberal, and with a greater emphasis on banishing bias, should serve SFBG well.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 9:52 am

The reason Time cited my reporting on Airbnb is because it is correct, and it is supported by both Kato and the city's tax codes, which make this tax obligation a "joint and several liability" shared equally by Airbnb and its hosts, as I've repeatedly written. Your issue is that I and the Guardian won't be badgered into submission by you and the other corporate apologists who were making arguments that weren't supported by the facts, not that "SFBG doesn't embarrass easily enough." Our integrity remains intact, on this and many other difficult issues that our city faces.

Posted by steven on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:15 am

You clearly think AirBnB should just front the entire thing, even if they haven't withheld that same amount already.

My interpretation is quite different. The city should either go after the hosts OR negotiate with AirBnB some kind of proxy withholding.

And even that assumes the SF tax inspector is correct and, so far, he has declined to pursue that in court.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:29 am

The city tax department said 'joint and severable' and then used their discretion to not attempt to collect anything yet.

So Steven continually reports that AirBNB is dodging $1.8 million. No mention of the hosts or the fact that the tax department is not attempting to collect a dime while they work on reviewing the 50 year old regulation.

And when somebody points that that what Steven is writing is highly misleading (at best) calls them them 'corporate apologists'.

Not much value there, sorry. And zero hope for any credibility at the SFBG. In fact, it seems like credibility is a very low priority.

Posted by Troll on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

@Troll: In defense of a man whom I do not know, I think "fair and balanced" in journalism has gone too far. Had it not been for biased propaganda pre-1917, there might not have been a Russian Revolution resulting in the greatest social democracy of the 20th Century. This is only one example out of many. America started this idea about "balanced reporting" sometime in the 20th Century. It is better when you can see a man's colors until the war begins. At that time, hide behind a tree and wear camoflauge.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

That would be funny if it didn't actually represent the ethos of SFBG, historically, where bias always trumped balance.

hopefully under the new management, there will be elss mindless, kneejerk, tax, borrow and spend, less class warfare, less identity politics, less political correctness and more, er, news?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 6:20 am

Can we expect to see more coverage of the entire SF Bay now? I always thought that the SFBG focused too much on the city and not on it's neighbors.

It is, after all the San Francisco BAY Guardian, a clear distinction from the SF Weekly and SF Examiner, whose titles indicate a focus only on the city.

SF isn't even the largest city in the Bay Area any more, and a broader and more moderate coverage should enhance both readership and ad revenues.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 10:00 am

removed. The Vogtian SFBG has commenced, and the past must be eradicated or re-written.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

I guess the New Order doesn't approve of Shakespeare.

Posted by Chromefields on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

New Order was always such a pale (yet danceable) shade of Joy Division.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:39 pm
Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

Their first one sounds like it could have been the final JD album, except that Ian died before recording the vocals. I like Power, Corruption, and Lies (coincidentally, also to be the name of the SFBG relaunch) but kind of lost interest after that.

Posted by Chromefields on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

Bad art is more a SFBG thing than good art.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

let's test that theory. who was the fired writer?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:44 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 6:21 am

...so maybe the first wasn't deleted because of the name which shall not be named? Let's try again: what did the deleted post say about Caitlin?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 11:43 am

re-post it. That would be for it's author.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 11:51 am

It did not say that she had pluck or was plucky, did it? It said something else.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 11:58 am

right over Marke's head.

Odd that obscenities and abuse never deleted here, but yet cultural citations and erudite witticisms are removed.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 7:28 am

Fuck you, Guest.

Posted by anon on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 7:56 am

rearing it's ugly head again.

Scratch Marcos's skin and his inner bigot manifests itself.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 8:24 am

Anon attacks a troll on the SFBG web site and now all progressives are haters?

Posted by anon on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 8:41 am

knows he is losing a debate. How is that a progressive value? And why did he try and not own it by posting as anon?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 8:54 am

You're all hat and no cattle.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:14 am

neurosis on his sleeve.

Or rather, you did.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:30 am

neurosis on his sleeve, in case any dimwit didn't realize that.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:36 am

Whoosh!

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 10:52 am

Guest,

Good question regarding the geographic reach of our coverage. But I need to familiarize myself with our current circulation footprint before I am in a position to answer it intelligently.

I certainly agree with your point about the readership and business opportunity.

Posted by Stephen Buel on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

That's about as corporate-sounding as one can get.

Even down to the "good question, Guest" of having to congratulate someone for their question. Ugh. "That's a good question" is a stalling tactic used in corporate meetings and by most corporatist politicians. They say, "what a good question" while they try to come up with some answer even though they usually don't have a clue what to say so then they go on to talk about "our footprint" and "business opportunity/ies." Purely corporate and newspeak.

Posted by not ignorant "anon" on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

He appears to have an open mind and a genuine curiosity. Personally I find that refreshing here.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:12 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:17 am

then your comment is, at best, tautological. And, at worst, disingenuously dishonest.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:31 am

While I get that a liberal paper is always going to have some beef with any corporation, the eternal sniping at an entity as benign and innocuous as a power utility never made any sense.

Bruce no doubt had some deep-seated reason for his irrational hatred of them, and Tim was too loyal to abandon that even when it was obvious that the voters never bought it.

But can we now stop the witch-hunt and have some more balanced coverage? It's just plain weird and doesn't confer any credibility upon this august organ.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

PG&E? Benign? They've been gouging us for years. WE footed the costs from the Enron scandal, not PG&E. Sacramento enjoys public power at a cheaper price than our rates. Benign. Ugh. Can't believe you said that.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

never had a problem with them, while their monthly charges remain modest and manageable.

In any event, even if you think that Dominion, Southern or Duke could do a better job, so what? That's what the stock market is for.

And the last thing I want is having my power managed by the same people who run Muni. No, let the government do less and do it better. The last thing we need is more distraction and the SFBG now has an opportunity to put this vindictive campaign behind them.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

I think it is necessary to cease to blame the “tech boom” for an economic bubble resulting from decades of Federal Reserve money printing that continues to skew values while it is sucked into Wall Street speculator pockets, inducing the rank-and-file to continue the unregulated jump from the fiscal cliff with petty, low-yield speculation. It's a zero-sum game.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

Always worthwhile here, it seems.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 6:24 am

At this point you should be aiming for survival - never mind the "progressive."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

attract more readers and therefore more advertizing revenues. Appealing only to fringe extremists groups cannot be good for the bottom line, particularly since those folks rarely have any surplus disposable income and that is what advertizers target.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 6:23 am

Call it The New Corporate Bay Guardian or the New Moderate-Conservative BG. Or better yet, The New Neoliberal Bay Guaridan. It's won't be the same as the SFBG we all know and love.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:21 am

after 40 odd years, and that is what has happened.

With Bruce and Tim now gone, the SFBG can reach a new generation of moderates and liberals by leaving behind it's proto-hippie communist leanings and making itself more contemporary and relevant.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:34 am

He's usually like MotorMouth here but we haven't heard a peep from him in a couple of days.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 10:09 am

He's a good friend of Tim's.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:31 am

But JAW posted frequently for several days after Tim resigned, indicating that that wasn't necessarily a big deal to him.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:43 am

How about the SF Bay Guardian does a story telling us about the San Francisco Information Clearinghouse and how it relates to the Council of Community Housing Organizations?

Posted by anon on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

exquisite that it would make watching paint dry an exercize in excitement, then I suggest that non-story be left unvisited.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

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