According to an email sent to employees of the San Francisco Media Company and shared with SFist, the conglomerate that owns the San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Guardian will be ceasing publication as of tomorrow's issue.
Dear community: The SF Media Co. has just pulled its funding from the 48 year old San Francisco Bay Guardian. More details to come.— SF Bay Guardian (@sfbg) October 14, 2014
In the email, Glenn G. Zuehls, who joined the struggling media company in June, says "Unfortunately, the economic reality is such that the Bay Guardian is not a viable business and has not been for many years" and that though he tried to make the publication a financial success, "the obstacles for a profitable Bay Guardian are too great to overcome."
According to SF Weekly, Guardian editor Steven T. Jones says that his staff and he are "in shock. We're still trying to stay cool. We're still trying to absorb this."
According to a Facebook post by SFBG publisher Marke Bieschke, "All operations have ceased for the moment. Unfortunately, tomorrow's Best of the Bay did not make it online, so you'll have to instagram it y'all."
In a phone conversation with SFist, Bieschke says that two Guardian staffers (Bieschke declined to say which ones, but insiders name reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez and music editor Emma Silvers) have been offered other positions at the SFMC, but "the rest of us were told to pack up and get out. There's a security guard at the door," Bieschke said.
However, Bieschke says that he believes that this isn't the end of the Guardian, which he vows will "live on in some other form."
Of course, since they just learned of the publication's closure today, they don't know what form that will be yet, but Bieschke says that they are "looking for a buyer, because the Guardian is still a very viable business."
"We are not going to let our progressive message fall by the wayside," Bieschke said, listing their election reporting and endorsements, Best of the Bay, and arts and culture coverage as items he's committed to continuing...just not at the San Francisco Media Company.
The Guardian's closure is "partially a relief" Bieschke said, as "we were never meant to be in this conservative corporate environment."
And now, he says the remaining Guardian folks are "looking at all the possibilities and will entertain any kind of offers."
When asked if that included some rich VC or techie who wanted to prove that he or she cares about the community, Bieschke laughed and said "there's this stereotype that we're anti-tech, but we know that no matter where you come from, people can understand and believe in progressive values."
So there you go. If you're a wealthy person with Guardian-congruent politics who wants to prove that you're committed to your community/get yourself some prog cred, this is your big chance to put your money where your mouth is!
Until then, Bieschke urges everyone to follow them on Twitter at @sfbg, as they have managed to "retain control of that account," he said.
You can read the full email from Zuehls below:
The Guardian has for decades been a leading voice for progressive San Francisco. As a company, we are proud of its legacy as a community watchdog, a publication with stellar reporting and its passion to push for a better city.
Unfortunately, the economic reality is such that the Bay Guardian is not a viable business and has not been for many years. When SFMC took over the publication, the company believed the publication’s finances could rise out of the red and benefit from joining forces with the Examiner and the Weekly. We have tried hard to make that happen over the past few years. I joined SFMC in June and was hopeful that I could make good on that potential. I was excited to see if the Guardian could be a part of the long-term stability and growth of this unique media partnership.
Since then, I have come to realize that this isn’t possible and that the obstacles for a profitable Bay Guardian are too great to overcome. The amount of money that the Bay Guardian loses each week is causing damage to the heart of the company and cannot justify its continued publication. The success of this company, providing the highest quality journalism for our readers along with superior results for our advertisers, is my sole priority.
I am a huge fan of the Bay Guardian and of the talented journalists that work here. This is the hardest decision that I have had to make in my 20 year Newspaper career.
I am saddened to say good-bye to a member of our media family and colleagues here in this office, many of whom I have come to respect and admire. I wish them all well.
Glenn G. Zuehls