Wow. That was fast. The jury in the ongoing litigation between the Bay Guardian and Village Voice Media came to a rather sudden end as a jury awarded the Guardian $15 million and sided with its claim that its competitor, SF Weekly, was selling ads below cost in an attempt to put the paper out of business.
There has been an endless amount of spin from each side at their respective “blogs,” and the personalized vitriol between the Guardian’s management and the VVM management has been a bit over the top. More importantly, I, as the reader of local media, have not had an objective voice report on this trial, so it’s really hard to know who was telling the truth, and who was lying.
Re-reading some of the “blog” postings by Tim Redmond and Andy Van De Voorde, it was hard to believe each “reporter” was even talking about the same trial – it was spin spin spin. This is the mainstream journalism I’m supposed to fear the demise of, thanks to Evil Blogs and The Internet? Hmm.
Now, while they’re popping champagne corks over on Portero Hill, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that VVM will appeal said verdict. But let’s pretend for a moment that said appeal fails and VVM writes the BG that oversized Publisher’s Clearing House check. Here are some (real) suggestions on what to do with the money:
1. Hire real reporters, and start getting them to do real reporting – the kind of work that takes a long time to research, report and write accurately. Stop doing cover stories on bullshit and start doing the kind of work that no other entity (Chronicle, the Weekly, blogs, etc) will do. Give us, the citizen and reader higher quality journalism on topics that are important – but not getting covered. (Example: why don’t you do more coverage of things that affect peoples’ daily lives – Like, say, our terminally frakked MUNI system?
2. Take a sledgehammer to the computer hosting the “blogs” at the Guardian and destroy it. Now. These “blogs” are an embarassment, and clearly, the Guardian doesn’t understand the blog culture. Plenty of other places do “blogs” and local blog aggregation better than the Guardian – let them do it. If you do decide to do “blogs,” take a cue from the success of such places as (gasp!) The Chronicle and stop having staff waste time on ’em. It’s not that hard.
3. Stop taking sides in petty disputes on the left that no one cares about. Stop staking the paper’s credibility on said outcomes, and looking foolish when they end in tears. Spend the money and time instead to take on sacred cows on all sides – and spend more time telling me important information I can’t get anywhere else. Yes, an editorial page and endorsements are great, but it’s time the Guardian stop getting in the mix of things that no one cares about and that drag the credibility of the paper down.
4. Get the archives online and Google-able. In the era of The Series of Tubes, if it ain’t on Google, it doesn’t exist. Spend the money and hire someone who can do the job. You have a former mayor selling a wonderful piece of science fiction right now, but no one, upon wanting to do more research, will find much of any of the big investigative pieces from that era. Bad, bad, bad.
I fully expect none of this to happen, and I’m sure I’ll get a nasty email and be told once again what a jerk I am for asking for someone who just won a pile of money to, um, stop pleading poverty as an excuse for putting a paper out that is not up to snuff.
But here’s the catch – my site is very google-able. And I don’t plan on taking it down anytime soon! Welcome to the 21st century, kids.