Sunday, January 27, 2013

Todd Vogt, Tim Redmond, and local journalism


Fog City quotes the publisher of the Bay Guardian, the SF Examiner, and now the SF Weekly:

“The SF Weekly will still compete with SF Bay Guardian and SF Examiner but we will leverage its strengths and expand on areas that have been neglected or abandoned by Village Voice Media,” [Todd]Vogt added. “SF Weekly will definitely have its own editor and we have already spoken with several candidates. I’m blown away with some of the incredibly talented journalists who have expressed an interest in leading SF Weekly. As we re-establish SF Weekly as the leading source of local arts, entertainment and culture content, we want to make sure the next editor shares the commitment to making the paper the best local alt weekly, with almost exclusive emphasis on ‘local.’”

In what sense is the SF Weekly---or the Bay Guardian, for that matter---an "alt weekly"? There's rarely anything in either publication that would bother readers of the Chronicle or consumers of the mainstream media in general.

And exactly which "areas" have been "neglected or abandoned" in the SF Weekly? Surely Vogt isn't going to have the SF Weekly provide the same banal, misguided, party line "progressive" political coverage already provided by the Guardian and, increasingly, by his SF Examiner. 

Unlike the SF Weekly, the Guardian has always prided itself on its political coverage of local issues, though that coverage has been uncritical, erratic and skewed by a paleo-leftist ideology. The Weekly sometimes does interesting, in-depth cover stories, but it's never tried to provide consistent local political coverage.

That Vogt is simply clueless is confirmed by this: 
 
“No one can do what the Guardian does,” Vogt said. “Tim Redmond is the best and most knowledgeable progressive journalist. Period. Plus he is a phenomenal writer and editor.”

This is so far off that it tells us more about Vogt's limitations than it does about Redmond's abilities.

I've been reading the Guardian for years and have regularly pointed out the limitations of Redmond's and the Guardian's views on local issues. One of the first posts to this blog, way back in 2004, questioned Redmond's pronouncing Care Not Cash "an utter failure" only six months after it went into effect.

Less than a year later, Redmond was back denigrating Mayor Newsom and Care Not Cash, even though it was off to a pretty good start.

He was still bad-mouthing Care Not Cash in 2009, along with a stilted verison of recent San Francisco history. And in 2010, he called Care Not Cash "an attack on homeless people."

Redmond told us how he actually liked graffiti/tagging, an expensive form of vandalism that still plagues the city in large part because of this kind of enabling by people in the media like Redmond.

When it comes to following city issues, Redmond and the Guardian have attention deficit disorder. Every week they seem to start with a blank slate. I can take credit for this insight from that blog post:

The SF Weekly and the SF Bay Guardian are competitors in the struggle for market share in San Francisco, but both weeklies are so erratic and unhelpful on local political issues they might as well be working for the same company.

Now that they are working for the same company I bet they'll continue being erratic and unhelpful on local issues.

Todd Vogt may be the only one who thinks Redmond is "a phenomenal writer," but Redmond is fortunate that that person is his boss. There's plenty of evidence for a contrary view.

Sometimes Redmond goes deep, like with his rumination on ideology and history and with his Bad Guys theory of History.

Redmond's bizarre analysis of the run-up to the 2007 mayoral election.

No matter what the issue is, count on Redmond to get it wrong: On Josh Wolf; on transportation; on Iraq and Afghanistan; on high-speed rail; on the naked guys in the Castro; on the silly kerfuffle over the anti-Jihad ad on Muni buses last year, etc.
 

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