On Guard: The story behind the Bay Guardian’s new ownership and the departure of Editor-Publisher Tim Redmond

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Tim Redmond's last day as the editor-publisher of the Bay Guardian was June 13.
Luke Thomas


[An abridged version of this article appears in this week's Guardian]

Longtime Bay Guardian Editor Tim Redmond left the newspaper last week in a dispute with its new owners over personnel changes and his autonomy within San Francisco Print Media Company, which also includes the San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly.

Redmond led the Guardian newsroom for most of his 31 years with the newspaper and engineered last year's sale to Todd Vogt and a Canadian ownership team. As part of that sale — which Redmond cast to staff as saving the Guardian from bankruptcy and closure — Bruce B. Brugmann and Jean Dibble, the couple who founded the Guardian in 1966, retired from the paper, its Potrero Hill office building was sold, and the Guardian moved into the Examiner's downtown office in June 2012.

Redmond was the Guardian editor and publisher, the name at the top of our masthead and the person solely in charge of Guardian operations, and he told staff he had been guaranteed full autonomy by the new ownership, which was important to the Guardian staff. As such, he resisted Vogt's periodic efforts to control the newspaper, including early threats to fire City Editor Steven T. Jones for unspecifed reasons, which Vogt had mentioned to Redmond, directly to Jones, and to Guardian writer Rebecca Bowe prior to her return to the Guardian at the beginning of this year.

Nonetheless, Vogt did make some successful incursions on the Guardian's independence, initially by encouraging layoffs, later by interfering with Guardian endorsements in the November 2012 election.

On Oct. 26, 2012, without consulting Redmond, Vogt named Examiner Editor Stephen Buel to be vice president for editorial overseeing both newspapers, announcing that Buel would "oversee the editorial direction, content, tone and voice of our newspapers and web sites."

Shortly after the purchase of the longtime Guardian rival SF Weekly two months later, Vogt similarly appointed Weekly writer Erin Sherbert to oversee online communications at all three papers.

Neither Buel nor Sherbert directed or reviewed any Guardian editorial content prior to publication, although some stories from the Guardian and the Weekly began to appear in the Examiner's newspaper and website, often edited by Examiner editors but giving credit to their original source.

The Guardian's weekly revenues continued to remain flat or decline, at least partially because of the departure of two of the Guardian's commission-based advertising representatives, positions which remain unfilled. The San Francisco Print Media Company then instituted a new system in which ad reps would try to sell into all three papers, which particularly hurt the Guardian's bottom line during the run-up to the SF Weekly's large Best of San Francisco, published May 29. The Guardian's sales staff remains significantly smaller than that of the other two publications.

Vogt, Buel, and Chief Financial Officer Pat Brown began a conversation with Redmond about the need to cut expenditures, focusing on the newsroom, which until June 14 had seven full-time Guardian staffers and a part-time art director, who also works for the Examiner.

Redmond expressed a willingness to make cuts while also emphasizing the need to hire more ad reps to boost revenue, Redmond and Buel both told us. "He made it very clear that we need more salespeople," said Buel, who also told us that he supported Redmond's stance with Vogt and Brown that he should be allowed to choose where the cuts would be made.

"Todd and I were in the middle of difficult and ongoing negotiations for how to cut costs. My position is that it is entirely appropriate for the owner to ask us to cut costs, and then I would come back with a plan," Redmond told us.

Instead, on June 12, shortly before Redmond left the office to moderate a well-attended forum that he had organized on Plan Bay Area and San Francisco's long-term growth policies (see related story), Vogt called Redmond and Buel into Brown's office and demanded he lay off three specific people in the newsroom (ironically, not including Jones, whose work Vogt has come to publicly praise in recent months) as soon as the current issue is complete. That would have cut in half the number of writers and editors working under Redmond, making it difficult to put out a paper.

"To have me lay off three people by name is not acceptable," Redmond told us, holding firm that he would cut expenses but that he wouldn't let Vogt micromanage the Guardian in that fashion. Redmond informed Buel of his decision on June 13 and sought to meet with Vogt, who wasn't in the office that day.

"Tim told me in no uncertain terms that he couldn't do it," Buel told us. "He was civil and cordial and adult about it, but he was very clear he was going to leave the Guardian" rather than be forced to implement that decision. Buel then conveyed to Vogt that Redmond had offered to resign rather than making the cuts.

The next night, Redmond and Vogt exchanged a series of emails in which Redmond repeatedly offered to leave and help create a smooth leadership transition and Vogt repeatedly insisted that Redmond make the cuts and/or clarify whether he was resigning.

It culminated shortly before midnight with Vogt telling Redmond that his resignation had been accepted — to which Redmond responded the next morning that he hadn't offered his resignation — and that he was barred from returning to the office or speaking for the Guardian.

Vogt's explanation

Guardian staffers arrived to the office earlier than usual as requested, for a 9:30am meeting Vogt had called shortly before midnight, but Vogt was absent. The meeting commenced around 10:15am, with Vogt phoning in from Canada for his first meeting exclusively with Guardian staff.

"I've got a bunch of apologies to make," he began, explaining that he was flying to Canada for his six-year-old son's school assembly. "I'm embarrassed that I'm not there, but I'm more embarrassed that I contemplated missing my son's grade one graduation and school play."

He went on to describe his email exchange with Redmond the night before. "I accepted his resignation as editor of the Guardian, effective immediately," Vogt said. "I didn't ask for his resignation, I didn't want him to resign. But it was Tim's decision."

"For 12 months, we let — I let — Tim run the Guardian pretty much hands off," he said, allowing that on a few seldom occasions, "I actually made demands, some of which Tim listened to, some of which Tim disregarded." Vogt went on to say that he, Redmond, Buel, and Brown had been meeting to discuss "very serious and significant changes" at the paper, which would have included staffing cuts.

"Up until yesterday at 4:30, I was under the impression ... that not only was Tim on side with those changes, Tim had actually recommended some of those changes, both staffing and otherwise," Vogt said. "So I'm not exactly sure what occurred, but whatever occurred yesterday that made Tim have a change of heart is really irrelevant at this point. So, uh, again you all know Tim, and you have known Tim longer than you've know me, and whether you choose to believe what I just said, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter."

Vogt went on to say, "Last month, it became painfully apparent that we had to make some radical changes to the Guardian. Some of the changes ... were going to affect the editorial tone and position of the Guardian. We weren't going to do anything crazy, like Philip Anschutz the Guardian," referring to the Examiner's former right-wing owner, "but we definitely were going to look to make some changes, because obviously what we've been doing ... isn't resonating with advertisers, and I honestly don't believe it's resonating with readers."

He went on: "Whatever you heard yesterday with respect to layoffs, or freelancers no longer writing for the paper, all of those decisions that had been made collectively between Tim, myself, Steve, and Pat are off the table."

Going forward, he said, "I'm going to look to Marke [Bieschke, appointed interim editor], and Dulc [Vice President of Advertising Dulcinea Gonzalez], and Steve [Buel] to quickly come up with a plan of what we need to do ... to get the Guardian back on solid financial and, and sort of ideological footing, in the community. I know some of you heard that certain positions were going to be eliminated and there's likely going to be pissed off people and hard feelings, and for that I'm sorry. And I'm not saying... that there won't be layoffs. There may well indeed be."

Then Vogt opened up the discussion for "Questions, comments, you can tell me to go fuck myself. Whatever it is, now is the time."

Jones asked about how Redmond’s departure would be presented to the community, and what he meant by the change in editorial tone. "No disrespect to Bruce [Brugmann], but I think the editorial changes that need to happen at the paper need to reflect sort of, progressive — the new progressive — movement, the new progressive values," Vogt responded. "The feature that Tim wrote two weeks ago [on the future of planning in San Francisco], that's the kind of stuff that I think the Guardian should be. But if anybody around the table is looking or hoping that I'm the guy who's going to provide the editorial vision of what the Guardian's going to be, we're in serious shit. I've lived in the city for 18 months, and I'm the last guy who should be opining on what the Guardian ought to be."

Shrinking the Guardian

Guardian Culture Editor Caitlin Donohue severed ties to the newspaper shortly after the meeting. "I was just shocked that I was being told by intercom to disbelieve my editor and mentor of four years," Donohue said when asked for her response to the meeting.

In that meeting, Donohue accepted a voluntary layoff. "After the various idiocies of last week, I realized it was time to hit the ejector button, and started putting my energies towards building new media that actually had a chance of success," Donohue explained later via email.

With regard to Redmond's ouster, Donohue said, "Getting rid of Tim, and the others they told him were next, is part and parcel of the company's slice and dice attitude to their acquisitions. You can't run that paper after cutting nearly 50 percent of its editorial staff — or a good one, at least."

On Monday, Gonzalez also resigned from the Guardian, effective July 1, further reducing its advertising staff. She had no comment for this story, but Vogt called her departure “a huge blow.”

Vogt still insists that Redmond helped develop the plan to lay off two of the three people they discussed. Buel also said that particular staffers had been discussed in meetings among the four of them, although Buel said only supported two of the three cuts that Vogt insisted upon.

"He fully supported two of the three cuts until Thursday," Vogt said of Redmond. "Suddenly something happened on Thursday. I don't know whether it was a conscience thing, or a change of heart or mind."

Redmond denies that he supported any specific layoffs, telling us that he insisted on being the one to make decisions on who worked for the Guardian and that he wanted to broadly review the Guardian's expenses, including what the company was charging it for rent and printing the paper.

"Tim was simply more interested in the editorial side and the Guardian needed some business leadership," Buel said, noting that he conveyed that assessment to both Redmond and Vogt a couple months ago, not intending to be named publisher of the Guardian himself last week. "I said that not at all envisioning I would be the person to do that."

Redmond said that he was cut out of the loop on decisions that Vogt and other managers made to restructure the advertising sales team to have reps selling into all three products, which sources who have worked in the department say created dysfunction and diverted energies that hurt Guardian ad sales.

"They never asked me how the ad department should be set up," Redmond said.

And while Redmond and Buel both say he strongly advocated for more employees to be dedicated to selling the Guardian, Redmond found himself playing the same role he had played as executive editor under the previous ownership: reacting to the paper's financial fortunes by cutting costs.

The Guardian had seven full-time staff writers when Jones was hired in 2003, which Redmond whittled down to just one by the time the paper was sold, despite the Guardian winning a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the SF Weekly and the chain that owned it, Village Voice Media, for unfair competition and anti-competitive pricing.

"I recognized in May that Guardian sales were down and I was not opposed to the idea that we had to cut costs," Redmond told us, later adding, "I came back with two plans. One, sell me the Guardian, or two, tell me how much I need to cut."

Vogt didn't accept either idea, insisting Redmond lay off the staffers that he had identified. Whether that final standoff is seen as a straight business decision, a personality conflict, or a question of the autonomy of Redmond and the Guardian, it's certainly true that it was the last in a series of conflicts between the two men.

Internal friction

Friction between Vogt and the Guardian's newsroom had been building for some time, centered around a couple of issues: payment of tens of thousands of dollars in debts to freelance writers that Vogt assumed when taking over the Guardian, and Redmond's authority as editor/publisher of the Guardian.

While the terms of the Guardian's sale to Vogt's group haven't been made public, sources say there were a couple areas of disagreement that delayed Vogt's acceptance of his responsibility to pay the freelance debt, although that was settled earlier this year.

Guardian staffers who work directly with the freelancers consistently complained about the unpaid debt and the difficulties it created in working with writers, and Redmond insisted that he was trying to faciltate payment but that there was nothing he could directly do to help. A plan was supposedly developed to pay the debts, but as of today, the bulk of the past freelance debt remains unpaid.

"We didn't have a ton of free money to pay the debt owed under Bruce's leadership," Vogt told us, adding that the company has been slowly paying off that debt, including expediting payments to key freelancers "when Tim said it was important."

Vogt also began complaining to Redmond about specific writers in the paper that he didn't like. "I had made demands about certain freelancers, 'I don't want so and so writing for the paper,' and they were still in the paper."

Redmond maintains that it was his decision what appears in the Guardian, not Vogt's, and that he resisted the owner's suggestions to fire certain writers, including L.E. Leone, the Guardian's longtime Cheap Eats columnist — who often departed from restaurant coverage to touch on an array of social topics, including her own MTF gender reassignment process — who transitioned into a sports columnist earlier this year.

"I think it was the coolest thing in the world that we had a transgender sports columnist who was one of the best writers in San Francisco. Todd strongly disagreed," Redmond told us. In the wake of Redmond's ouster, Leone resigned from the Guardian on June 15.

A perhaps more significant conflict over control of the Guardian came during the fall election when Vogt clashed with Redmond and Jones over the supervisorial endorsement in District 5. First Vogt opposed endorsing Julian Davis, but ultimately made it clear that it was the Guardian's call. After Davis was hit with new sexual misconduct allegations and responded badly to the developments, the Guardian revoked the Davis endorsement.

We then contemplated endorsing Christina Olague — who had regained progressive favor after defying Mayor Ed Lee on a couple of high-profile issues — but Vogt refused to allow it.

"He told me his newspapers would not be endorsing Christina Olague," Redmond said, a point that Vogt confirmed, explaining only that he didn't want to revisit the D5 endorsement after the Davis debacle.

Redmond said that Vogt then "threatened to fire me" for running a pro-Olague op-ed from longtime queer activist Cleve Jones, despite Redmond's explanation that the Guardian oftens runs guest editorials during election season supporting candidates other than those endorsed by the Guardian.

In fairness, Vogt wouldn't be the first Guardian owner to buck the newsroom on a political endorsement. In the 2003 mayor's race, Brugmann at the last minute overrode the consensus endorsement choice of Tom Ammiano, instead insisting the paper endorse Angela Alioto, although an apologetic Redmond allowed staff to print a dissenting endorsement in favor of Ammiano.

Meanwhile, both Vogt and Buel have issued public statements following Redmond's ouster pledging to keep the Guardian operating as it always has.

Buel insists that he and Vogt have both allowed the Guardian to remain an independent, progressive voice throughout their tenure — something that he said is clear from the Guardian's strong and critical coverage of corporate power this year — and they intend to maintain that approach going forward.

"I think its editorial independence has remained intact," Buel told us, assuring Guardian readers that would continue even without Redmond at the helm. "All I'm saying is keep reading and see if we live up to what I'm saying."

Tim's San Francisco

The day news of Redmond's firing hit the Guardian newsroom, the ousted editor created a website titled "Tim's San Francisco" on blogspot.com and posted a statement about what had happened.

"Hi, my friends, all the people I love and care about in this city. I'm sad to announce that after 30 years, I have left the Bay Guardian," he wrote. "I am proud of all the work that we did over those years, but sadly, it has come to an end."

After briefly explaining the details of his departure, he added, "The good news is that Blogger is free, and I will fancy up this blog in the next couple days, and I will continue to present perspectives and news about progressive San Francisco."

In the days that followed, online comments on Facebook, sfbg.com, and Redmond's new blog demonstrated an outpouring of support from community members.

"The Bay Guardian has been a venerable source for progressive talk (and organizing) in San Francisco and the Bay Area for years," Media Alliance wrote. "Despite the paper's shrinking physical presence, it maintained an influential role in City Hall politics and the Bay Area progressive movement, largely thanks to Redmond's editorial presence."

Christopher Cook, a progressive journalist and former city editor at the Bay Guardian, expressed his outrage over Redmond's ouster in a Facebook post and had issued a call to action, writing, "As the paper would say, let's give them hell." Later, he wrote, "Folks, a critical progressive institution has been bought out and now gutted by this aggressive media corporation. Where's the protest and uproar?"

Brugmann also offered this statement to the Guardian: "Tim came to the Guardian 30 years ago as a reporter, specializing in politics and investigative reporting. Tim soon developed, in my estimation, into one of the finest all around editors in the country. He was largely responsible for making the Guardian the major progressive voice in San Francisco, a major force in Freedom of Information and public access issues throughout the state, and a national model for the alternative press throughout the country."

Redmond said he's been engaging in lots of discussions with the Guardian's community in recent days, exploring whether Vogt may still be persuaded to sell the paper, or looking at ways to start a new media vehicle for the Guardian's community.

"I do have to give Todd credit for buying the Guardian and keeping it alive this year," Redmond said, adding that he was disappointed that Vogt chose to "basically destroy the newsroom" rather than taking him up on his offer to buy back the newspaper or explore other ideas for making the Guardian sustainable.

As Redmond told us, "I'm looking at my options for ensuring progressive, independent journalism is alive in San Francisco."

 

Comments

I agree with Marcos' point 1. In San Francisco, many on the far left think the "primary point of government is to serve as a job program while providing services as an optional afterthought." That's a misguided view and one that's unfair to taxpayers. There is no reason that San Francisco needs so many public workers, that the payroll needs to be so high, or that it needs to dish out such lavish benefits. Just take a look at the current budget under consideration: billions going to payroll and benefits while a tiny fraction of that amount goes to capital improvements.

Posted by The Commish on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:04 am

That is not what I said. Government employment is a good thing in general, but the goal has to be provision of services to the public first, employment considerations for public workers next.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:17 am

If a job can be better done by someone in the private sector, and therefore at no cost to the taxpayer, why wouldn't we want that?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:27 am

Well, I quoted what you said.

Posted by The Commish on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

There is a vast gulf between what I said, that public employment trumps the provision of public services and your subsequent boilerplate comments on the sustainability of public employee benefits.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

If the city family is draining the public purse for it's own selfish ends, then that makes it very hard to entertain their opinions on any topic, since that will merely seem self-serving.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

without realizing that it is the greed of the city workers and their unions that is the single biggest cause of service cuts.

Where Marcos wanders off his brief more is that he wants more democracy but only because he thinks that means he will win more often, and not because more democracy is intrinsically better.

So he will argue for RCV but then whine endlessly when it doesn't give him the result he wanted it to.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:26 am

I'm not sure what the ownership expected when they sold the Guardian to a "businessman." From Canada. Improved journalistic excellence? A new car?
What? I'm afraid the Guardian ownership sold out, literally and figuratively. Maybe some of the former staffers will help create a real COMMUNITY newspaper that includes everyone, not just young people with excess cash.

Posted by TrollKiller on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:38 am

you can have a newspaper that attacks those with money is always self-defeating. Eventually the guy with the money gets a little tired and bored with all the envy politics and draws a line in the sand.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 11:51 am

I didn't think it was appropriate for me to review an article in which I was quoted, so I didn't look at this one until it had been sent to press. But suffice it to say that it described the Guardian's present situation imprecisely.

The story's most notable omission was the minimal attention paid to just how the Guardian wound up in its current plight. For the past year, Tim Redmond was the paper's editor and publisher, and possessed both the authority and duty to hire more salesmen, support the Guardian's able staff, and hold the paper's expenses in line so that layoffs were not necessary. Tim failed in that job. Yes, other people and factors played some role in the paper's present malaise -- including me -- but at the end of the day, Tim bears the greatest responsibility.

My other big quarrel with this story is in its depiction of Todd Vogt's involvement. There would be no San Francisco Bay Guardian today were it not for Todd Vogt. Yes, Todd reasonably has some opinions about how to manage the Guardian (!!!), and no, Tim didn't agree with many of them, but to imply that Todd has screwed up the paper is to ignore the fact that the Guardian has remained the Guardian throughout an entire year of new ownership team.

Now we need to make it sustainable.

Posted by Stephen Buel on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

Tim (or his surrogate chronicler Steven) cannot simultaneous argue both that Tim wasn't given control and that he was. I suspect the truth is as you described it here i.e. that Tim, in his creditable and admirable quest for editorial freedom and integrity, perhaps dropped the ball on the business side without which, as you note, the whole ball of wax melts into oblivion.

Perhaps the simple truth is that, after so many years hanging on Bruce's coattails, Tim lacked the flexibility and drive to embrace a new proprietor. And perhaps, as many in their mid-fifties do, Tim craves and cries out for new challenges, greater autonomy and an enterprise where he is driving, not riding shotgun.

If SFBG ends up being more viable as a result, and perhaps also more in tune with the changing populace and demographic here, then isn't this good for everyone?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

boys and girls,

Posted this yesterday to my group but none of the major media has printed it.

Note Vogt's background and let me know if any of you read this so's I know I wasn't 'graylisted' for the comment.

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Subject: Todd Vogt learned at the feet of master thieves
From: h@ludd.net
Date: Mon, June 17, 2013 9:19 am
To: h@ludd.net
Priority: Normal
Options: View Full Header | View Printable Version | Download this as a file

boys and girls,

Several of you have noted that there's
a pay wall atween y'all and the WSJ story
that includes discussion of the boy's lying
and thieving bosses which is where he
learned his craft which is rigging ad prices
to drive small papers out of business where
he can then purchase them.

This shit would probably be Pulitzer material
if assholes like Vogt didn't own the industry.

Sorry it took so long to get this to you
and I got it through a Google search.

Here it be and Go, Go you crippled Giants!

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By SHIRA OVIDE

Todd Vogt, leader of an investor group that recently agreed to buy the San
Francisco Bay Guardian—a left-leaning weekly that boasts of "printing the
news and raising hell"—has plans to raise some of his own as a combative
newcomer in the local newspaper industry.

Enlarge Image
GUARDIAN
GUARDIAN
Mike Koozmin/The Examiner

Todd Vogt with a copy of the San Francisco Examiner. His investor group
bought the publication in December.

The investor group's deal to acquire the Guardian in April followed its
purchase in December of the San Francisco Examiner. Deal prices weren't
disclosed. Mr. Vogt, 44 years old, says he may not stop there, and would
like to piece together a Bay Area newspaper chain.

"If it was just going to the Examiner as a standalone…I wouldn't have been
interested," Mr. Vogt says. "The interest was in the opportunities to
consolidate newspapers in the area or to launch new products."

Hearst Corp.'s San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Vogt says, is beyond his
financial reach, but he volunteers interest in buying papers run by
MediaNews Group Inc., which operates a dozen Bay Area dailies including in
Oakland, San Jose and San Mateo. MediaNews says the papers aren't for
sale.

Mr. Vogt punctuates his acquisition zeal with heavy criticism of other Bay
Area newspaper owners for what he says is poor local news coverage and
strategic missteps. "It's a shame that such a vibrant metropolitan market
has such terrible newspapers," he says.

"I wish him every success. He obviously sounds very competitive," says
MediaNews Chief Executive John Paton. A Chronicle spokesman declined to
comment.

Mr. Vogt's debut in the Bay Area has thrust the little-known executive, a
native of British Columbia, into the spotlight. The newspaper business has
pummeled many optimistic proprietors, and Mr. Vogt faces an uphill climb
in the Bay Area, where readers have gravitated to digital offerings more
so than in other U.S. cities. Advertisers also have been diverting their
dollars to websites such as Craigslist and Google.

Mr. Vogt says the Examiner was losing money under its prior owner, as is
the Guardian, but that he is confident he will succeed. "I'm a fervent
believer in print," he says. "The foundation of the business has to be
built on good local journalism."

Enlarge Image
GUARDIAN
GUARDIAN

Mr. Vogt's previous foray into the newspaper business started with
Hollinger International Inc., a newspaper chain that at one time owned the
Jerusalem Post, the Chicago Sun-Times and London's Daily Telegraph. Mr.
Vogt says he started working for Hollinger in 1991 and eventually ran a
string of smaller Hollinger newspapers.

Mr. Vogt left Hollinger in 1999 and became president of another
newspaper-publishing company, Horizon Publications Inc., in which
Hollinger's top executives, Conrad Black and F. David Radler, were
investors. Horizon at its peak owned roughly 75 small papers in the U.S.
and Canada, many of them purchased from Hollinger.

In 2005 indictments, the U.S. Department of Justice said Lord Black and
Mr. Radler were among Hollinger executives who improperly received money
in the form of noncompete payments in some sales of Hollinger newspapers,
including in deals with Horizon. Mr. Vogt, who wasn't charged, says he
didn't receive any of the money that authorities alleged was directed to
Lord Black and Mr. Radler. Horizon didn't respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Radler in 2005 agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud—in
connection with noncompete payments—and served a prison term.

Lord Black in 2007 was convicted of charges that were later reduced to one
count of mail fraud and obstruction of justice. His mail-fraud conviction
was also related to noncompete payments. He was released from prison
earlier this month.

Mr. Vogt says he left Horizon in 2005, after the indictments of Lord Black
and Mr. Radler, and then split his time between British Columbia and
Southern California, dabbling in consulting for media companies and on
corporate turnarounds.

But when the Examiner's billionaire owner, Phil Anschutz, was canvassing
for a buyer last year, Mr. Vogt says he couldn't resist. "It's one of the
most storied titles in the world," he says.

Mr. Vogt also had a deep-pocketed partner, David Black, a Canadian
publishing magnate who owns the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Akron Beacon
Journal in Ohio and other papers.

In one of his first moves since taking over in early December as the
Examiner's publisher and president, Mr. Vogt halted two to three pages of
daily opinion pieces that had started under Mr. Anschutz. Mr. Vogt says
the pages' conservative viewpoint weren't appropriate for San Francisco.

Mr. Vogt also reduced the paper's reliance on wire services such as the
Associated Press, and says the paper's daily content now is about 70%
local-news stories by Examiner staffers. (The Examiner publishes stories
from The Wall Street Journal Sunday.) He also made steep job cuts, though
he says the paper didn't eliminate reporter positions.

Mr. Vogt proclaims the Examiner a "work in progress" but adds, "I'm
extremely proud of what the staff has been able to pull off in just five
months."

Mr. Vogt says after the deal for the Examiner closed in December, he also
heard Guardian founders Bruce Brugmann and his wife were seeking a buyer.
Mr. Brugmann says the Guardian may not have survived without a sale.

The 46-year-old Guardian is known for its doggedness, including a
decadeslong campaign alleging that the local utility, Pacific Gas &
Electric Co., is an illegal enterprise. Joe Molica, a spokesman for PG&E,
said about the Guardian: "While we have not always agreed with their
editorial viewpoint or content, we wish them the best in their future
endeavors." The Guardian also publishes a popular annual issue on Northern
California nude beaches.

To save money and free up Guardian staff to focus on news coverage, Mr.
Vogt plans for the Examiner to take over some business functions from the
Guardian, including printing copies of the weekly paper. Mr. Vogt has
pledged to continue the Guardian's progressive viewpoints as he works to
steady the paper's finances and perhaps buy another newspaper.

Mr. Vogt is also looking to increase revenue. Mac Tully, publisher of the
San Jose Mercury News, says Mr. Vogt approached him recently to ask the
MediaNews paper to sell certain types of ads for the Examiner, and share
revenue. Mr. Tully said he declined.

For his part, Mr. Vogt says he discussed with Mr. Tully printing Examiner
copies on MediaNews presses, and the possibility of giving certain big
advertisers the option to jointly buy ads in the Examiner and MediaNews
properties. Mr. Vogt says he didn't know Mr. Tully refused this business
idea.

"He's got a lot of challenges on his hands," says Mr. Tully. "I wish him
luck."

Write to Shira Ovide at shira.ovide@wsj.com

Posted by Guest h. brown on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

And a direct attack on the person who made this journal possible.

I am disgusted, and give Todd and Stephen my full support.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

I love mine,

This is a predatory right-wing bred beast from Canada who fix prices and destroy objective journalism.

Other than that?

I think they're just fine and peachy.

And, really anon ... ashamed of your own name?

Go giants!

h. (Bumbgarner has 1 hitter in 5th)

Posted by Guest h. brown on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

But why the zeal to attack the person who pays for the bandwidth for you to express your opinions?

Why not buy your own bandwidth and then you can say what you want all day long?

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

Anon,

Me or the Wall Street Journal?

Looks like your boy got outta town just ahead of the posse.

go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 1:37 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

Give your name,

Y'all ain't from around here or you'd realize that 'h. brown' is not a fictitious name.

Good luck to Tim who should, as I said, do his 30 years at the Guardian in installments behind a .50 cents pay wall or something.

Use your name, 'Anon'.

You ashamed of your family name?

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

In any event, I think you should pay more respect to the person who is making this website available to you.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

Just putting in my two cents that it just doesn't seem right. It's good the $$ problems got fixed, and maybe we can thank Vogt for that. But if the rest ain't broke (ie the helm represented by Tim), why fix?
The values he represented, his writing—always accessible and clear and friendly—will be missed in this publication. I dunno, but some continuity to the past can be a good thing. It's a thing that can bind oldsters and newcomers to this town alike---that's precious in my opinion. Many people come here because of the reputation San Francisco has: ie, its soul. Sure, the city is changing just as everything changes, and I think there are freelancers to inject new blood into the paper, or other papers to chime in on issues as they see fit. But Tim represented something to me. A pair of eyes maybe. Someone who has been here a long time, and has held true and strong to progressive values. He very much represents that je ne sais quoi that is the San Francisco mystique (actually, it's more like: je sais quoi!). And you wanna throw that under the bus?

I met Vogt once and he seemed like a nice enough guy, superficially at least. But maybe he could reconsider this move. Tim is a likable guy and steadfast to our causes, and a good writer. And has the depth of view that can't easily be replaced. This is important in a local paper. So what up?? Why mess with that very valuable, human asset that Tim represents?

Todd Vogt, can you please reconsider? A paper such as the SF Guardian is a personal thing. That was its beauty to me: a consistent point of view (represented by Tim at the helm), steeped in the progressive history of this place. I want my editor back.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

are now showing up again, having not been here for a year.

It's almost as if they are all really one Sacramento-based windbag who got caught out doing sock puppetry here . .

I expect to see "Erika" next.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

"Guest"~
Maybe you can come up with a better moniker than "chicks" to describe me and others you are lumping me in with.
Never even been to Sacramento, "dude". And if you want to know the reason I haven't been here much, it's because I was spending all my time looking for work, and changing what I do for a day-job. It got a little intense, but I'm happy to report I now have work, and my finances are in order.

Whatever floats your boat as far as sock-puppetry. Dream on.
Oh yeah, and "windbag"...nice image. It's funny, too, because your above comment to me is kinda like the wind....is there anything substantial in it? No, just an irresistible urge to denigrate some women who have the guts to use their real names.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

suddenly and mysterious all showed up at the same time saying the same thing during RossGate.

There was AnnGarrison who also "coincidentally" showed up within minutes of you today. Plus "Erika", "Sue" and a bunch of others I cannot recall now. But maybe a dozen in total.

They all equally mysteriously vanished when RossGate wound down and at least one of them was caught out using three or more handles.

So yes, I do suspect that at least some of you were one and the same broad.

If you wish to claim this is really your real name, then provide a link.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

Provide a link? You call me a broad and you want me to provide you with a link? Like I said, dream on.
And if it helps, I know all "these broads" you mention. They use their first names, and lo and behold, i actually know them from being active in the community. Imagine that.
You on the other hand, can continue to hide behind your anonymous postings. It's your right, so go ahead. But you have a lot of nerve singling out and demeaning people because they are female and use their names.

Your sexism is showing, and your obsession with sock-puppetry can't hide that.

Have a nice anonymous day.

PS I know what I said during RossGate and it was a very specific perspective.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

Cites? Links? Real world bio's?

Didn't think so. But thanks for playing.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

Why would i impinge on their privacy?
You are very amusing.
Signing off,
Daniele

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Thereby effectively admitting that she was bluffing in suggesting that they are not all the same person posting under multyiple names

Posted by anon on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 6:08 am

Anon, you sexist asshole. I am one of those women and I know every other one of them, and even if one of them was using more than one identity, you would have no way of knowing that. That's what, as marcos has pointed out is wrong with this comment space that all of you anons and guests, who are probably one or two full-time professional trollers, have destroyed.

You should be thrown outa this space for that a lot faster than I should be thrown out for what I just said to you, or for this: GO FUCK YOURSELF.

And if Todd Vogt or Steve Jones or any other Guardian gendarmes want to throw me out for that, and let you troll, troll away in this space, that's fine with me 'cause I've had it with this sick space. You win. It's all yours. Go ahead and make it as sexist, racist, elitist, and ugly as you please.

Posted by Ann Garrison on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

disgusted. Sexist winger trolls decrying sexism... racist winger trolls denouncing racism... boring winger trolls decrying boredom... it's funny how dull they are.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

No one wins anything here.

It's just a comical bit of the Internet, why you think you are so important and what you do here is so earth shaking is a mystery.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

life other than posting on blogs and forums?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 6:11 am

obscene rant against someone for no reason other than theya dvance a contrary political perspective. Shameful.

And I note you offer no evidence that AnnG is a real name, any more than the Guests and Anons that you criticize without merit.

Posted by anon on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 6:10 am

The guy knew the consequences and it therefore must be assumed that he wanted to leave.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

Anon,
Well, according to this story, Tim "told staff he had been guaranteed full autonomy by the new ownership". Tim "held firm that he would cut expenses but that he wouldn't let Vogt micromanage the Guardian in that fashion".

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

Tim cannot have it both ways i.e. have full autonomy and somehow that means he can ignore the fiscal crisis that clearly faced SFBG.

He could have fired the people he was told to fire and retained editorial direction but he refused to take that direction. That is a de facto resignation given the clear chain of command.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

(And you're starting to sound like the military, no offense).
It didn't sound to me like he *was* ignoring the fiscal crisis...
Anyway, I was not there. But I will say again that I don't like the fact that it came to this. It's an abrupt ending that doesn't seem fitting to the esteem Tim has built up over the many years.
Obviously, changes need to be made. Vogt had his ideas—Tim had his. Money trumped clout. Or so it seems.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

It's about knowing when to take a stand and when to accept reality.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

at the same time, then reality becomes unimportant.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 12:14 am

following your passion also makes you wealthy. It happens for some musicians, sportsmen and other celebrities.

But it can also happen in business, as many successful folks in the Bay Area can attest.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 6:10 am

Anon,

Indeed, I am h. brown. Ask anyone sitting at any desk around you who has been in San Francisco longer than a year who I am.

But, 1,500 columns on City government over the last decade aside, let me welcome you to town.

You sir?

To me?

You're a coward and a loser without a name.

Stand up and shout your family name proudly or shut up.

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

you're just going to have advance good arguments rather than sit back and rely on whatever you think is your kudos around these parts. Tim had to move on and maybe you do, assuming you're some big shakes that everyone has forgotten about, if they ever noticed you in the first place.

Did you give Bruce this kind of crap? Because it seems to me that he had as many skeletons in his cupboard as anyone else. Vogt is paying so you can have a platform to vent and rant. Respect that.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

He's a smelly old vagrant who also sexually harassed Caitlin once in front of Aaron Peskin. He fancies himself a member of the "progressive intelligentsia" which says a lot more of what that consists than it does his mediocre brainpower. He's known for spewing anti-Jewish conspiracies, accusing prominent Jewish city employees of harassing him and farting out the occasional anti-gay diatribe for a little extra fun.

2-3 years ago he announced he would no longer comment here because he was writing his "memoirs" and working on his "stand-up comedy act." Which no doubt bombed once the audience realized they would be subjected to 20 minutes of non-stop Holocaust and AIDS jokes.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:35 pm
Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:05 pm
Posted by matlock on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:24 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

H Brown complains that he has lost 18 elections in the city.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qf_ce3Ijno

Posted by matlock on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

That interview is from a few years ago. His opinion is about artists still moving to San Francisco is laughable at this point.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

Really?

How would you know if we had too many already?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

Seriously. I've never seen such an honest exchange about the internal dynamics of something like this play out live and unfiltered. It's admirable and also quite riveting.

I say that with all honesty - there's a great dialogue going on here involving all (or most) of the principal players. Everyone has a voice and they're sharing it, the rancor is subdued and people are offering their opinions respectfully.

I think this is great and represents something new and exciting here.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

and this can now become a vehicle for genuine discourse and a meeting of minds.

The sclerotic past has perhaps been left behind, and that is very exciting.

Posted by anon on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 3:50 pm