Yesterday, both sides in the predatory-pricing suit filed by the Guardian against SF Weekly and Village Voice Media gave their opening arguments, and Guardian associate publisher Jean Dibble took the stand. The local website Beyond Chron lays out the plaintiff's burden: "The Guardian will have to prove four things: (1) the SF Weekly sold ads below cost; (2) the Guardian was harmed; (3) the harm was due in large part to the fact that the Weekly sold ads below cost; and (4) the SF Weekly's purpose in selling the ads below cost was to cause harm to the Guardian." The Guardian's attorney argued that the Weekly has lost money for 11 straight years (a claim the defendants contest) as a direct result of selling ads below cost, and that it was selling at that rate with the express intent of damaging the Guardian. "If you're not trying to make a profit, what are you trying to do?," the Guardian reports he asked the jury. The Weekly's attorney argued that, yes, the paper has been selling ads below cost, but to cope with a tough regional economy and competition from the internet, not to put its competitor out of business. "The reason we were selling below cost is because that is all we could get for the ads," he told the jury, according to the Weekly's dispatch. The trial resumes this morning.

Continue ReadingJudge Hears Opening Statements in Bay Guardian/VVM Trial

Yesterday, Judge Marla Miller denied Village Voice Media and SF Weekly's request to delay the predatory-pricing trial in order to further review some documents, and jury selection will get underway today at 8 am, according to reports in the Weekly and the Guardian. With jury selection expected to last two days, the judge has scheduled opening arguments for Monday.

Continue ReadingAfter Brief Setback, Jury Selection in Bay Guardian/VVM Trial Begins

The predatory pricing suit against SF Weekly and Village Voice Media asserts that the Weekly sold ads below cost to push the Guardian out of business. (The suit also names former VVM property East Bay Express as a defendant.) VVM executive editor Michael Lacey thinks Bay Guardian publisher/editor Bruce Brugmann is using the Weekly as a "scapegoat" for his own problems in dealing with new challenges in print media. "[The lawsuit] is how he's hoping to maintain his business in a really tough media market," Lacey tells The San Francisco Daily Journal, a local legal publication. But Brugmann disputes this notion. "From our point of view, the fact that the economy is not good and there are other problems in this business only makes this problem more acute," he says. Jury selection is set to begin tomorrow in San Francisco County Superior Court. Legal experts tell the Daily Journal that predatory-pricing cases face different odds depending on where they are filed, adding that California superior courts are generally seen as more friendly to plaintiffs than federal courts.

Continue ReadingBay Guardian/VVM Trial Scheduled to Begin Tomorrow

A recent surge in newspaper theft has a coalition of Bay Area newspapers -- including the East Bay Express and the San Francisco Bay Guardian -- asking local authorities to help pursue thieves both on the street and at the recycling businesses where they fence the stolen goods, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet. The Express is doing more than just asking cops for help, though. The Planet reports that after complaints to local police failed to result in the apprehension of a man repeatedly seen stealing papers, the alt-weekly hired a private investigator. On his first night out, the private eye caught the thief with more than 500 copies of the Express -- and nearly as many Bay Guardians -- in his truck. Express publisher Hal Brody says that stopping the thefts will take more than arresting street-level thieves -- rather, he thinks cops need to target the recycling businesses that accept the contraband. A meeting between Oakland police and local publishers to discuss how to stem the tide of theft is planned for the near future, the Planet reports.

Continue ReadingBay Area Papers Try to Combat Wave of Free Paper Theft

After hearing arguments on SF Weekly's three motions for summary judgment, Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer ruled Thursday that the San Francisco Bay Guardian's predatory pricing lawsuit against the Weekly and Village Voice Media can go to trial. The jury trial is now scheduled to begin in January. Read more from the Weekly and the Bay Guardian.

Continue ReadingJudge Rules Bay Guardian’s Suit Against SF Weekly Can Go to Trial

A few weeks back, we noted that the San Francisco Bay Guardian had joined a number of Bay Area groups in the investigative project to continue the slain journalist's work. But there was one glaring omission from the list of participating organizations: The East Bay Express, which five years ago investigated the group Bailey was writing about and whose staffers suffered death threats because of it, was not included. "It's definitely odd that the one newspaper that owned the story of Your Black Muslim Bakery wasn't invited to participate in this project until after it was formally announced," Express editor Stephen Buel tells SF Weekly. Buel says he'd heard that one of the news outlets in the Bailey Project had a beef with his paper, but that a project organizer recently assured him that it was not an intentional snub and invited the Express to participate. The paper has declined the belated invitation, and will continue to pursue the story on its own.

Continue ReadingWhy Isn’t the East Bay Express Part of the Chauncey Bailey Project?

The San Francisco Bay Guardian has signed on to the Chauncey Bailey Project, which will continue the investigative reporting the Oakland Post editor was pursuing when he was murdered a few months ago, Editor & Publisher reports. More than two dozen Bay Area journalists and organizations are taking part. "A group of us agreed to put aside competitive rivalries and work together to send a crucial message: that you can't kill a journalist with impunity," Guardian executive editor Tim Redmond tells AAN News. "The combined weight and resources of our community will come down on you and push until all the facts are out and everyone involved has been brought to justice."

Continue ReadingBay Guardian Joins Group to Continue Slain Journalist’s Work

The San Francisco Bay Guardian's G.W. Schulz won "the coveted Public Service award" for his coverage of MediaNews Group's purchase of nearly all Bay Area daily newspapers. SPJ's panel of judges noted that the Bay Guardian "demonstrated by example the value of diversity in news media ownership." Eliza Strickland's examination of questionable practices at an expensive cooking school and how California has failed to regulate for-profit schools for SF Weekly won for investigative reporting, while East Bay Express' Kara Platoni took home the award for feature writing for her piece on gun violence and gun availability. The Society of Professional Journalists' Northern California Chapter will honor the winners at a Nov. 8 dinner.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Win Three Regional SPJ Awards