New generation of Guardian leadership seeks community partnership

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San Francisco Print Media Company has named Marke Bieschke as publisher and Steven T. Jones as editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, elevating two longtime Guardianistas into the top spots, guaranteeing them editorial autonomy, and letting them work with the community to chart its future.

As a first step in that process, the Guardian will hold a public forum on July 31 from 6-8pm in the LGBT Center, 1800 Market Street, to solicit input and discuss the Guardian’s unique role in the Bay Area’s political and journalistic landscape. Helping to coordinate the forum is Guardian writer Rebecca Bowe, who has accepted the position of news editor. The forum and subsequent discussions will form the basis for a strategic plan that will help guide the Guardian into a new era.

The newspaper’s future was uncertain a month ago following the abrupt departure of longtime Guardian Editor-Publisher Tim Redmond in a dispute with the owners over layoffs and the Guardian’s autonomy. The company’s Vice President of Editorial Operations Stephen Buel, who is also editor of the San Francisco Examiner, was named interim Guardian publisher and Bieschke its interim editor.

Heeding concerns in the community about whether the Guardian would remain an independent, progressive voice in San Francisco, Bieschke and Jones negotiated terms with SF Print Media Company CEO Todd Vogt that guarantee them full editorial control, the addition of three new advertising sales positions and another staff writer, and guaranteed minimum staffing levels during a rebuilding period.

Bieschke and Jones, who are in their early 40s and have been with the Guardian for around 10 years each, say they are excited for the opportunity to work collaboratively with Guardian staff and its community to rejuvenate the paper, attract new readers, and achieve economic sustainability.

“Losing Tim’s leadership was hard on all of us at the Guardian, and we struggled with what to do next. But ultimately, the Guardian plays such an important role in San Francisco — particularly now, at a pivotal moment for this gentrifying city and its progressive movement — that we wanted to find a way to keep that voice alive, maintain our credibility, and reach out to a new generation of Bay Area residents,” Jones said.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian was founded in 1966 by Jean Dibble and Bruce B. Brugmann, who continues to blog and serve as editor-at-large for the Guardian. The couple retired from regular duties when the financially troubled paper was sold to Canadian investors headed by Vogt in the spring of 2012, a deal engineered by Redmond, who is always welcome in the pages of the Guardian as he pursues a new media venture.

"I'm stoked to bring a different energy and openness to innovation to the Guardian, while respecting our legacy and strengthening our bonds with the progressive, alternative community,” Bieschke said. “Obviously, Steve Jones and I stand on the shoulders of giants, and we're so grateful to our Guardian family, past and present, for blazing a trail for world class progressive journalism, arts and culture coverage, and community-building in the Bay Area. In that spirit, I'm eager to reconnect with our readers and partner with them to amplify the Guardian voice and continue to change the Bay Area for the better."

Vogt said he’s excited by the prospects of new generation of Guardian leadership: “I’m happy about this. I think it’s appropriate that two recognized leaders in the progressive community are in charge of the Guardian and I look forward to seeing what they do with it.”

Bieschke joined the Bay Guardian in 2005 as culture editor, coming on staff after covering nightlife in his Super Ego column, and he was made managing editor in 2010. His background includes online editorial and management level positions at Citysearch and PlanetOut Partners, as well as managing a bookstore in the Inner Richmond.

"I'm also excited to help diversify San Francisco's media environment by bringing two decades of queer Arab-American activist experience to the role," Bieschke said.

Jones is a Northern California native who was hired as the Guardian’s city editor in 2003, coming from Sacramento News & Review, where he served as news editor. Before that, he was a full-time staff writer for two other alternative newsweeklies, two daily newspapers, and one community weekly, all in California, since graduating from Cal Poly-SLO with a journalism degree in 1991.

Years of cutbacks have distilled the Guardian newsroom down to just a few excellent journalists: senior editor Cheryl Eddy, who has shaped the paper’s film and arts coverage since 1999; Bowe, an award-winning investigative reporter who returned to the Guardian in January from a one-year stint with the Electronic Frontier Foundation; and Music Editor Emily Savage, who knows the beats of this city better than anyone; with Art Director Brooke Robertson leading the Guardian’s creative presentation.

“We all hope you’ll help us to guard San Francisco’s values, appreciating all of its best cultural, artistic, and culinary offerings in the process,” Jones said. “We love the San Francisco Bay Area, in all its messy urban glory, and we think it’s worth fighting for.”

Comments

But then so did Tim, no? And that didn't help him when it mattered, right?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 9:33 am

We learned important lessons from that episode, we've spelled out in writing the terms and conditions of accepting these promotions, and we're relying on our community for support, ideas, and to hold us to our commitments.

Posted by steven on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:19 am

And I applaud the fact that you do not hesitate to engage and interact with readers who comment on you writings/musings. Tim Redmond always refused to do that.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:28 am

rudimentary criticism of their positions, then what credibility can they reasonably complain.

It's the dismissal of any criticism as "trolling" that makes SFBG look shallow and inept.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

This meeting is welcoming.

I, and I believe many more, welcome the Guardian's newfound commitment to a more community-embracing outlook regarding its editorial direction and to greater transparency (sunshine!) in the community.

While Tim certainly had a right time and place, I feel that it is time to broaden the scope beyond his very orthodox opinionating in your paper. It is time to embrace a broader demographic to ensure that you survive and thrive.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 9:38 am

Can we get more stories stereotyping newcomers? Those are the best.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:08 am

that would be a huge step forward.

It's hard to take SFBG seriously when it complains about people stereotyping gays, blacks, the homeless etc. when SFBG routinely stereotypes tech workers, christians, republicans and so on.

Could we commit to a stereotype-free SFBG? And treat people like individuals rather than purely as members of a convenient category?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:24 am

So long as they can keep the stereotype that the only people who complain about stereotyping people with social power (wealthy white tech workers, Christians, Republicans) are people with social power.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:22 am

whom you perceive as being more effective and successful than you are?

Is that it?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 12:53 am

Look forward to the Bay Guardian refresh.

May I suggest tons of online contributors/columnists with the best of those being picked up in the print edition each week?

Perhaps online reports from different neighborhoods online each week?

Also a streamlined online presence that pushes Guardian into whatever device the person seeks, phone, tablet, etc...

Glad this deal was struck. Good luck Marke and Steve.

Long Live the Bay Guardian!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:16 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:39 am

Yes, yes, SFBG should be allowed to grow more organically as an on-line community.

This would entail embracing broader perspectives and lifestyle understandings.

I would also suggest that you drop the paper publication and go fully on-line.

Paper (re trees) are a finite natural resource that should be preserves in order to combat global warming.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:22 am

These are all good ideas, but we all need to remember the context that we're working under. Our print publication still accounts for the vast majority of our revenues, which support our full-time staff, so the newspaper is going to have to remain part of the mix. Plus, in this digital age we're in, I think a print product is actually value added, and we just need to find the right balance between print and online. We would love to expand our circulation and coverage into the East Bay more, we just need to figure out what that looks like in how we use our resources. But we appreciate all these ideas, and those still percolating out there, so please keep 'em coming.

Posted by steven on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:45 am

idea *isn't* actually a good idea.

I think the trees which go into growing the paper on which the Bay Guardian are printed are farmed trees.

There *is* carbon released in the printing, transporting, and recycling of newspapers, but these are not costs which aren't shared in other forms of communication to a significant degree. Let's keep it real.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

Yes, I see your point.

Also, a printed publication carries much more weight than anything that appears in the digital world. That's just a fact.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

require more staff - just a change of emphasis.

And right now there is virtually zero coverage of anywhere outside SF except for occasional pieces on Oakland and Berkeley. What about the 4 million Bay Areans who do not live in those three cities?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 12:55 am

I love this. Love watching you all descend into a death spiral of endless suggestions why you argue over the minutia of the minutia.
Thank you for continuing to do it in a public forum so that we can all watch.
This is like portlandia for free.

Posted by Rhinna Sante on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

Can't wait to meet you in person!

Posted by marke on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

Steve - I just finished your Burning Man book. Think it was well done and presented fairly the position of many of the participants. Think also that you do a good job of not hiding your perspective and pretending to be "objective" - think that it is an honest position. As for how to keep the Guardian relevant in a changing city - I say keep covering the art and music scene in the city much as you have in the burning man book. Good coverage of arts and culture and how people are working together to make things better will always be relevant. Think people have gotten tired of just protesting - especially when it seems to have so little effect on the national scene and the national security state that seem happy under either republican or democrats.

Posted by Richard on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

Thanks for reading, Richard, both the Guardian and my book. I agree that the Guardian's perspective on San Francisco is important, and we will continue to print the news and raise hell while we updating how we do so.

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 7:18 am

Sounds like the Guardian is going to lurch its way back to where it was 1-2 years ago - cranking out progressive-bot pieces on the evils of gentrification and the joys of David Campos while simultaneously hemorrhaging cash out its proverbial asshole. Maybe they can bring back Johnnie for old time's sake - because the past two months of public cat fights followed by an occasional Steven "I'm still here dammit!!" Jones piece have been BORING.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

Please introduce yourself to me, I'd love to meet you in person after all these years. 

Posted by marke on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

That's a bit much don't ya think? I can understand bull shitting someone, but really, get a grip! Why would you want to meet Snapples? Why would any sane person want to meet Snapples considering the hateful and despicable content that piece constantly excretes on this site? Why would you want to meet one of the nastiest, smug and hateful trolls anywhere on the internet? I would begin quickly walking in the opposite direction if I heard someone say, "Hi, I'm troll Lucrapia Snapples and I've written thousands and thousands of attention-craving hateful posts on your site. Honestly I have nothing else to do so I've wasted years and years of my pathetic, sad life trolling on your site pretending to be a know-it-all omnipotent bourgeois elite aristocrat. I occasionally tell you (at the BG) how much I love you while I'm hating on you. That's so you won't ban me. It's worked so far. As you all know, I have multiple dysfunctional very-septic personalities. You will have to guess which nasty very-septic dysfunctional personality has showed up tonight at this forum, and now fuck off and get out of my face."

That would most likely be the "greeting" and "reception" you would get from that piece of work, after telling her, "I'd love to meet you in person after all these years."

You might want to reconsider that after giving it more thought.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

to suffer fools, such as Lucretia, gladly

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

What Lucretia wants Lucretia gets.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

"What Lucretia wants Lucretia gets."

Yeah sure. You've spammed this site with that phrase, "What Lucretia wants Lucretia gets" countless times. Like an old script you need new material, or better yet just retire.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. And god knows Lucretia's no spring chicken. It may not be that long before she goes the way of that other great troll, Arthur Evans.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

are the perfect place for a delusional queen like Lucretia to proclaim that (s)he is eternal like the sun. A legend in her own mind.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

if you'd stop discussing her all the time.

You've proven again that what Lucretia wants, Lucretia gets.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:24 am

SFBG just plays right into that.

Gotta love the train wreck.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:35 am

When exposed to a toxic element, it can be hard to ignore the lingering stench.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:37 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:46 am

of what exactly?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 12:00 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

Numerous times at parties I've thrown (which you've attended in an official and not-so-official capacity) as well as at after hours.

I do wish you all the best of luck. Things have been a little boring around here lately - spice it up sister. TWERK ;-)

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

"You've met me before Marke. Numerous times at parties I've thrown (which you've attended in an official and not-so-official capacity) as well as at after hours."

Well clearly all of that was extremely memorable for him and you really left a strong impression on him. [sarcasm intended]. Because based on what he wrote, he doesn't know you from Adam.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 3:09 am

might need to ease off on the snarky stuff and develop an appropriate level of maturity for one who is the public face of what purports to be serious media.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 4:06 am

"develop an appropriate level of maturity"

Translation: Become more uptight, self-censored and conservative, but call oneself a so-called "moderate." Ha! Orwellian newspeak in other words.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 4:37 am

immature extremists? That's the real Orwellian thinking there.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 5:49 am

Absolutely. As a full-blown editor-in-chief, Marke will have to drop is snarky demeanor and assume the Walter Cronkite mold:

The Crinkite who wiped a single tear when he announced that JFK had died.

It takes a whole lotta placid demeanor to assume the EDITOR role.

Is Marke up to it? We shall see...

Posted by Anony on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

they can be snarky and bitter and cynical all the time.

As you say, we will see if the maturity evolves.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

Maybe Vogt has realized that the Guardian can't survive as a run-of-the-mill copy of the SF Weakly. Wishing you the best in this endeavor!

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

Maybe Vogt finally realized that the Guardian can't survive as a run-of-the-mill clone of the SF Weakly. Wishing you all the best in this endeavor!

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

new old SFBG doesn't hit the bottom line target.

What SFBG really needs is a backer with deep pockets who sees SFBG as an ideological toy, and gives in both fiscal security and editorial freedom.

A left-wing Rupert Murdoch, perhaps?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 12:58 am

Well, Bruce B. has some money from his property/lawsuit deals.

Maybe he can be like Steve Jobs and revive SFBG.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:16 am

No way is he going to risk his comfortable retirement on a jaded, dated product.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 11:33 am

plenty of people were approached to by the paper before the current new owners did. They looked at the books and they were a mess and it was a losing value proposition. Sad, but true - the lawsuits never netted any real positive cash and the old BG was running on credit cards.

They still haven't paid a LOT of freelance writers.

Wonder if Steve's temper tantrums will get bigger now that he's the Corporation's boy on a leash?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

I don't see the Guardian surviving. They can't become a clone of the SF Weekly; their owners already have the SF Weekly for that. There isn't any money in pushing rabble-rousing pieces geared at a dwindling base of leftist loonies.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

of limousine liberals (AKA champagne socialists) i.e. those with money who adopt left-wing views as some kind of badge of being interesting. They have disposable income to spend on the products and services that SFBG advertizes.

Back when SFBG was the main way to find a hooker in SF, that didn't matter so much. But the irony now is that SFBG needs the very same people - like tech workers and homeowners and bankers - that it routinely rubbishes on these pages.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

So now SFBG is one in a product line of print publications that neatly offers advertisers a one-stop spectrum of San Francisco lunch-eaters. And the line is owned and controlled by a 41-year-old, Pelosi-hating Canadian. What could go possibly wrong!?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2013 @ 7:48 am

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