A group of former San Francisco Bay Guardian staffers led by Steven T. Jones and Marke Bieschke is leading a fundraising effort to produce a final commemorative edition of the paper and preserve public access to its print and online archives.
Calling their project Guardian-in-Exile, the former staffers are trying to raise $25,000 on Indiegogo by December 6. The group issued the following press release today:
San Francisco Bay Guardian â€” Not Dead Yet!
SAN FRANCISCO â€” When the San Francisco Bay Guardian was suddenly shut down without warning on Oct. 14, the dedicated staff in this seven-person newsroom wasnâ€™t ready to let this 48-year-old granddaddy of the alternative newsweeklies just fade away. They wanted a chance to wrap up that history, comment on the circumstances of its demise, say goodbye to their readers, and ensure the newspaperâ€™s archives were preserved and publicly available.
So a week after that closure, on the first Wednesday in decades when a new issue of the Guardian didnâ€™t hit the streets of San Francisco, supporters of the Bay Guardian held a large community rally and announced the launch of the Guardian-in-Exile Project. Indiegogoâ€™s â€œSave the Bay Guardianâ€ campaign has raised almost $15,000 so far and is pushing hard to meet its $25,000 goal by Dec. 6. Details are at Indiegogo.
The 24-page final commemorative issue being produced by the Guardian-in-Exile crew will feature stories from longtime Guardian veterans Bruce Brugmann and Tim Redmond, a special â€œWho killed the Bay Guardian?â€ feature by its final Editor-in-Chief Steven T. Jones, a Guardian retrospective by News Editor Rebecca Bowe, a wrap-up of arts and cultural coverage overseen by Executive Editor Marke B that includes longtime arts writers Rita Felciano and Cheryl Eddy, and final Weeknighter and Head First columns by the newest Guardianistas, Broke-Ass Stuart and sex writer Krissy Elliot. And perhaps a few more surprises.
The project is being fiscally sponsored by the nonprofit San Francisco Public Press, which will distribute 12,000 copies of this edition as an insert in its Jan. 9 issue. Several thousand more copies will be distributed by Guardian-in-Exile staff at a launch party in mid-January and at other events. Donations to the project are tax deductible, and perks for donations include copies of the issue signed by Guardian staff, a Guardian-in-Exile T-shirt, a VIP invitation to the launch party, and display ads in the final issue.
The decision to shut down the Bay Guardian was made by the Canada-based San Francisco Media Company, which owned the San Francisco Examiner when it purchased the Guardian in Spring 2012. Eight months later, the company bought the Guardianâ€™s main rival, SF Weekly.
SFMC Publisher Glenn Zuehls says the Bay Guardian is for sale, but company officials have also indicated they donâ€™t want a direct competitor for the SF Weekly in the near future. After initially shutting down the Guardianâ€™s SFBG.com, former Guardian staff and community leaders urged Zuehls to get those digital archives back online and he has pledged to keep the website up until at least the end of 2015.
The Guardian-in-Exile has been working with archivists and free speech activists to preserve and enhance public access to the paperâ€™s archives, an important resource for the community and researchers. Part of the proceeds of the Indiegogo campaign will go to that preservation effort.
â€œWe never got a chance to say goodbye to our readers, and when members of our community reacted so strongly to our closure and asked what they could do to help, we knew it was important for us to have the last word in this struggle for the soul of San Francisco,â€ Jones said. â€œThe Guardian has played a vital role in the Bay Area and in the larger progressive and journalism communities, and weâ€™re not just going to let it fade away or allow 48 years of important work to slide down the memory hole.â€
Steven T. Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-305-3866
Marke Bieschke, email@example.com, 415-517-5910