Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Finger to the wind 2

Photo by Luke Thomas for Fog City Journal

There was much left unsaid in my first post about the Guardian's recent where-do-we-go-from-here public group session.

If the Bay Guardian is already "practicing a kind of journalism" that's "really important," why the soul-searching and implied insecurity about it? Why not just continue "raising hell"? In part they---that is, Steven Jones and what's left of the staff---apparently wanted to justify continuing to work at the Guardian after Tim Redmond left:

“I’ve always seen the Guardian as really fighting for the soul of San Francisco,” Jones added. “We’re fighting a battle to win here. To create an informed and engaged citizenry. I think we were all tempted to follow Tim [Redmond] out the door and I think ultimately where we came down for all of us is that the Guardian is really more than any individual.”

Since Jones and the rest of the holdovers all share the same "progressive" politics, the new Guardian will surely be a lot like the old Guardian, which isn't a Good Thing to critics like me.

Todd Vogt, CEO of the company that owns the Guardian, the SF Examiner, and the SF Weekly, made what he probably thought was a reassuring statement at the meeting:

“I make a commitment to all of you tonight that so long as I have any role, or involvement, or ownership in the San Francisco Print Media Company---the Guardian will continue to be published as a print product, continue to have a presence online; that it will continue to maintain its progressive voice, led by progressives, managed by progressives, with a diversity of voice, a diversity of comment and content,” Vogt said. “I think that this is a great opportunity for the Guardian to re-engage with the progressive community, to re-engage with new citizens of San Francisco---progressive or not---and to reinvigorate the voice that they’ve had for so long.” (emphasis added)

That is, the Guardian will be a paper of progressives, by progressives, for progressives so that progressivism will not perish from Progressive Land. That begs the question: What does being a "progressive" mean in the city? What is the "progressive" agenda?

The only way to find the answers to those questions is to read the Guardian every week to see where they stand on the issues, which, as it turns out, is not encouraging exercise. I discussed in the first post how the Guardian and progressives screwed up the homeless issue ten years ago. One of the participants in the meeting raised another issue that the Guardian has screwed up, highrises/gentrification.

“What gets me upset is when I see 40-story buildings. When I see the zoning laws change all over the city so that wealthy condominiums, or condominiums for the wealthy, will go up and push so many of us out,” said one participant who has previously written for the Guardian.

Agreed. The Guardian's late and feeble dissent on uber-prog Chris Daly's Rincon Hill highrise condo developments was an early indication that their heart wasn't into making any serious dissent on the city's aggressive pro-development policy. (See this also.)

The Guardian rarely mentions the huge Market and Octavia Plan that rezones thousands of properties in the Civic Center area to encourage population density, including more highrises, especially around the Market and Van Ness intersection. (See this, this, and this.)

The Guardian helped grease the skids allowing UC to rip off the old extension property on lower Haight Street for a massive housing development. And the Guardian has had little to say about the city's "smart growth" planning theory in general, including the Treasure Island project and the Parkmerced project.

Supervisor Avalos was at the meeting. Turns out that the progressive candidate opposing Mayor Lee in 2011 is both spineless---he and other "progressive" supervisors were silent during the appeal hearing on the Fell/Oak bike project and about the Polk Street bike project---and a windbag:

“The year 2000 was one when there was actually a resonance between what was happening in San Francisco and what the Guardian was also reporting on,” Avalos continued. “I think now we’re reaching that tipping point all over again. The city is actually getting away from us again and the Guardian can play a role in helping to underscore what’s happening, and helping people to direct us into ideas and points of view and efforts of organizing to resist that which is going on...I think it’s really on San Franciscans to decide what kind of city you want to fight for, and to fight for that kind of city,” Avalos said. “It’s going to take not just reading the Guardian, but actually meeting face-to-face with our residents, with our neighbors and with our community members to really create that change. But we are in really dire need right now.”

The class of 2000 supervisors, contrary to mythology, were awful on a lot of important issues. And it's "on San Franciscans to decide what kind of city they want to fight for"? Seems that Avalos, like Supervisor Campos, is just biding his time until he can run for the state legislature. What kind of city has Avalos been fighting for? He clammed up during the hearing on the Fell/Oak bike project and has been silent on the Polk Street bike project. Hows that for leadership from the candidate who even got the Bicycle Coalition's endorsement for mayor!

Steve Jones:

“There’s this whole new group of these young tech-savvy, relatively apolitical, vaguely libertarian, kids in the city. And yeah, we want to find out ways to speak to them,” Jones said. “We’ll try anything. We really want to expand our readership and we think---not just for our own business model---we think it's really important for the soul of the city to win over a lot of these young people that don’t understand the history of the city and are not engaged in its political dynamic.”

These "kids"---actually, they're adults, Steve---are educated people. The Guardian is going to have be a lot smarter to get them interested in reading it, not to mention that the Guardian itself has a pretty sketchy understanding of the city's recent history.

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At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does adding a new 40 story high rise push our anybody, no matter how nice the condos inside it are?

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

We need affordable housing, not condos for the rich, who never seem to have problems finding housing.


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