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SF Weekly is Shutting Down for an “Indefinite Hiatus”

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Photo from SF Citizen

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.”

From SF Weekly’s FB page

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.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website BrokeAssStuart.com is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, Geek.com and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

16 Comments

  1. missyb
    September 10, 2021 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    This is gutting.

    Also, I would absolutely pay to support the Weekly again! CHARGE ME MONEY, SFWeekly! We need you!!!

    Also, I was actually just talking about that Huey Lewis piece a week or so ago..

    Ugh.

  2. Richard
    September 10, 2021 at 2:21 pm — Reply

    Damn this is a real bummer. We need some sort of public fund to finance journalism to keep local rags alive.

  3. September 10, 2021 at 3:06 pm — Reply

    I wonder how long this path-breaking investigative story about Clint Reilly will survive on the moribund newspapers internet archive: https://www.sfweekly.com/news/who-is-clint-reilly-really/

    Clint has a long memory.

    • Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
      September 10, 2021 at 3:11 pm — Reply

      Hahaha!

      Better make sure you still have a copy of it.

      • September 10, 2021 at 3:41 pm

        Yep, Broke-Ass, I stored the story online the day Clint bought the SF Weekly. In my opinion, having this religious and philosophically tortured businessman in charge of a large portion of SF media pay to play “news” wrapped in advertising is a disaster of disasters.

        As the story on Reilly reports, his own mother said he “is not lovable.” Sad. Fortunately, it is never too late to go back to the seminary to seek redemption. The Church could use a few more priests.

      • Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
        September 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm

        Damn!!!

  4. September 10, 2021 at 3:58 pm — Reply

    Having just written a cover story for the Weekly (https://www.sfweekly.com/culture/exit-pursued-by-covid-19/), I heard about this earlier, and it’s still a drag. Both as a writer and as a born SF native who can hardly remember a time without the Weekly (or the original Bay Guardian).

    But I am NOT calling this “the end of journalism in SF”. That’s a tired old tune with inaccurate lyrics.

  5. C
    September 10, 2021 at 5:54 pm — Reply

    Support Missionlocal.org!! They have great daily local news in San Francisco.

  6. Ron
    September 11, 2021 at 6:09 pm — Reply

    …it’s not an accident.

    • t-bo
      September 13, 2021 at 1:45 pm — Reply

      cryptic indeed!

  7. Cadence
    September 15, 2021 at 2:09 pm — Reply

    I miss the Bay Guardian for sure, but their layout turned pretty amateurish before they shut it down.
    The Weekly had a more corporate flavor.
    Either way it’s a shame to lose alternative based source that were able to dig up what TV news would fail to report on.

    Well there’s The Intercept, originally finder by Glenn Greenwald, and other foreign news that does far better reporting about events here in the US. The biggest reason is probably, because they don’t have as much at stake, unlike the media’s here receiving big corporate checks from advertisers, and having to deal with immediate political powers.

  8. September 16, 2021 at 12:33 pm — Reply

    I used to work at the SF Weekly back in ’95. Handled the Adult Advertising. Most people had to bring in their ad and money to me. Shame all the good things are in the past.

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