SF Weekly is Shutting Down for an “Indefinite Hiatus”
Well, SF Weekly is shutting down. Maybe not permanently, but certainly indefinitely. The unfortunate news came down from management on Friday. The paper will stop printing at the end of this month and it’s not clear at the moment what will happen with its website.
Carly Schwartz, Editor in Chief of the weekly paper gave us this official statement: “We are putting SF Weekly on hold while we invest all of our resources in revitalizing and growing the SF Examiner. SF Weekly has been a vital part of the city’s discourse for years and we are looking for ways to maintain the brand in the future.”
This is a serious bummer not just for myself, who just started a column there a couple months ago, but for the Bay Area as a whole. To say that the indefinite hiatus of SF Weekly is bad news is an understatement. It’s worse than bad news; its no news.
We’ve lost so many publications in the past decade including the SF Bay Guardian, the Oakland Tribune, and the Contra Costa Times. While some have been consolidated into other organizations, like the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune merging into the East Bay Times, it still means fewer voices and fewer informed and educated points of view.
According to Wikipedia, SF Weekly was founded “in the late 1970s by Christopher Hildreth and Edward Bachman and originally named ‘San Francisco Music Calendar, the Magazine or Poster Art’, Christopher saw a need for local artists to have a place to advertise performances and articles.”
Since then, the paper made and indelible mark on arts and culture in the Bay Area, and won many state and national awards for its journalism. Starting in the mid 90s SF Weekly was bought and sold a number of times, being passed around like a joint to different owners and media conglomerates.
In December of 2020, the paper was bought by real estate investor Clint Reilly, who also owns the Nob Hill Gazette. Reilly’s main goal was to buy the San Francisco Examiner, but since SF Weekly came with it as a package deal, he got both. At the time Reilly told the Chronicle that acquiring SF Weekly was basically a “stocking stuffer”. So, maybe we should’ve seen this coming.
It’s crazy to think that for decades, San Francisco had two alternative weekly papers. Anyone who’s been in the city for 10 or more years probably remembers the bitter war between SF Weekly and the SF Bay Guardian. It ended with a wild lawsuit that eventually led to the Bay Guardian winning $21 million from the Weekly and getting to gaffle two of the Weekly’s delivery trucks. A couple years later, both would be bought by the San Francisco Media Company, who would soon kill the Guardian (where I had a column at the time…sigh). And now the Weekly is ceasing to print as well. San Francisco now has no alt weeklies. How sad is that?
Remember how back in the day when you’d grab SF Weekly and it was like an inch thick? There would be all manner of stories and reviews and exultations about this wondrous city we lived in. Remember the deep dive Nate Cavalieri took into why Fernet-Branca was so damn popular in San Francisco? How about the piece where Katy St. Clair explored why Huey Lewis had such a devoted fanbase of people who are developmentally disabled? Alt weeklies are so important to the culture of a city. And now our last one is gone.
Hopefully this is just a small hiatus and SF Weekly will be back publishing smart, interesting, and challenging stories again soon. In the meantime, you’re stuck with me and my ragtag group of rapscallions fighting to keep San Francisco for everyone. Someone has to be here to stir shit up and fight the good fight.