Guardian forum sparks lively discussion

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Guardian staffers spoke a little and listened a lot at last night's forum.
Luke Thomas

We had a packed house last night for our community forum on the future of the Bay Guardian and the progressive movement in the Bay Area, with lots of great input, advice, gratitude, and just a bit of acrimony. It was even more informative and inspiring than we had hoped for and we appreciate everyone coming out and speaking so frankly.

As Sup. David Campos (who just announced his candidacy for the California Assembly) said last night, “The Bay Guardian has been the conscience of the [progressive] movement and I think it’s important for the Guardian to continue to play that role,” and that’s a role that the new generation of Guardian leaders will continue playing while also reaching out to a new generation of Guardian readers.  

We’ll have a full rundown in next week’s paper, along with an extended letters to the editor section to make up for shutting down online comments this week, so for now let me just offer a brief overview. In addition to Campos, the crowd of around 100 people included Sup. John Avalos, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, and City College of San Francisco Trustees Rafael Mandelman and Chris Jackson.

The crowd also included Todd Vogt, CEO of the San Francisco Print Media Company, who got an earfull from progressive activists Gabriel Haaland, Chris Cook, and others over the abrupt departure of longtime Guardian Editor Tim Redmond in June, with concerns expressed over the Guardian’s credibility and editorial autonomy.

Both Vogt and those on the Guardian’s panel — which included (from right in the photo above) Publisher Marke Bieschke, Editor Steven T. Jones, Music Editor Emily Savage, Senior A&E Editor Cheryl Eddy, Art Director Brooke Robertson, and News Editor Rebecca Bowe — emphasized that the Guardian has full editorial autonomy and control over what we cover and how, and who we endorse. The mission of the paper — “To print the news and raise hell,” and to be an indispensible guide to Bay Area arts and culture — hasn’t changed.

We’re all still digesting everything what was said last night (both at the forum in the LGBT Center and an informal session afterwards at Zeitgeist that went late), and we will be factoring it into what we do and continuing this ongoing conversation with all of you. We also welcome everyone's input and advice, which you can send to us at news@sfbg.com.

A special thanks to Alix Rosenthal for moderating the public input — and to everyone who came — for somehow keeping the comments and questions clear, concise, and constructive.

Onward!

UPDATE: Journalist Josh Wolf has written an excellent summary of the forum here at on the Journalism That Matters website. Check it out.

8/6 UPDATE: We just turned comments back on after shutting them off for a week-long experiment.