Aug 31, 2010

An old-fashioned war in San Francisco

David Carr of the New York Times headed out to San Francisco to visit Bruce Brugmann, editor and publisher of the Bay Guardian, and talk with him about the old-fashioned newspaper war that threatens to bring down either his paper or the SF Weekly, part of the Village Voice Media chain.

The Guardian recently won a court case against the Weekly, having alleged that the chain paper tried to run the Guardian out of business by selling ads below cost. The Weekly was ordered to pay $22 million to the Guardian, but Village Voice Media isn't ready to pay. So the fight goes on, at considerable expense to both properties, at a time when alternative weeklies, perhaps more so than traditional newspaper, are simply struggling to survive.

The war is a throw-back to a bygone era in San Francisco, when media giants like the Examiner and Chronicle tore at each others' proverbial throats. Today, the Guardian and Weekly throw punches even as most of the crowd heads for the exit.

Or, as Andrew O'Hehir, former SF Weekly editor, describes the battle, it's “like some kind of Greek myth where the two protagonists are still fighting over a city that died 85 years ago or something."

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