Miss the San Francisco Bay Guardian? It's Back for One Last Edition

Former Bay Guardian staffers hold up old editions of the paper on Jan. 15. (David Schnur)

You wouldn't exactly call San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius a big fan of the left-of-left politics that are sometimes practiced in the city. But this weekend, even Nevius bemoaned the loss of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which carried the banner of San Francisco progressivism for nearly 50 years before being unceremoniously shut down last October.  The weekly's owner, San Francisco Media Co., said it made that decision because the Guardian was no longer “a financially viable product.”

Well, Guardian fans, this week you're going to get one last shot at immersing yourself in the kind of San Francisco politics and culture that has always irritated your Uncle Edgar at Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, the Guardian in Exile,  a group of former staff members, will put up an online commemorative edition -- which you'll be able to download here for a donation. (See the cover here.) An extended edition with additional material will also be available.

Then on Thursday, a print edition will hit the streets, as an insert in the San Francisco Public Press, available for $1 at these bookstores and other locations. (The San Francisco Public Press is a KQED News Associate.)

The issue will include both old and new content, said former Guardian publisher Marke Bieschke.

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"We’re having a look back," he said, "which includes remembrances of the paper’s history from founder Bruce Brugmann and longtime executive editor Tim Redmond. We have a lot of images and mementos of Guardian history."

Other material will address city transit, the future of San Francisco progressive politics, and arts and culture.

At the time of the Guardian's closure, which staffers said came without warning, Editor-in-Chief Steve Jones struck a somewhat confrontational tone in an interview with KQED.

"If it looks like it’s just dead and there’s not going to be any more hope of bringing it [back], then we decide whether or not we want to go to war," Jones said. "We have a large, supportive community out there. I think progressive San Francisco really values the Guardian. They don’t feel like there’s anyone else out there who’s going to be raising these issues. They can be very creative in their responses to setbacks."

But Bieschke on Friday said, "They’re definitely not going to bring the Guardian back." He said ex-staffers are now mostly focused on getting control of the Guardian website and the extensive digital archives, which go back to 1982. Currently, past issues are available on the old site, but that is still maintained by the San Francisco Media Co., which plans on discontinuing it at the end of 2015.

"We are continuing negotiations with the S.F. Media Co.," Bieschke said. "They’ve been very forthcoming in talking to us about the future."

Still, in true Guardian muckraking fashion,  an article in the upcoming issue by Jones and former editor Rebecca Bowe will examine its erstwhile owner "and the other players in town who might have played roles in the death of the Guardian," according to a Guardian In Exile press release.

Rebecca Bowe now works at KQED as an online producer. I asked her what she felt about the loss of the Guardian. She said that after she was let go, she walked around San Francisco noticing how many small businesses had Best of the Bay awards displayed in  windows.

"That really drove home for me how much a part of the community the Guardian was for so long," she said.

Wrote Nevius this weekend:

"A few years ago, the San Francisco Bay Guardian called me a 'conservative suburban twit.'

"I miss that."