Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A different view of the war of the weeklies

The Stranger, an alt-weekly in Seattle, has a story about the legal battle between the SF Weekly and Bay Guardian.
    It's a war straight out of the last century in its ruthlessness and its destructive potential, and it continues to escalate even as, all around them, the entire words-on-paper industry is in a state of collapse. They're like dinosaurs, fighting over the rotting bones of a soon-to-be-extinct animal.

    On one side there's Michael G. Lacey, 61, the executive editor and a co-owner of Village Voice Media, a self-described "prick" who comes complete with "spiky gray hair, watery pale-blue eyes, and spreading shanty-Irish honker," as New York magazine memorably put it. On the other side is Bruce B. Brugmann, 74, editor and co-owner of the Bay Guardian, a classic San Francisco lefty who likens his civic role to that of a Revolutionary War pamphleteer and has made his own bearded visage a kind of logo for his business.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bruce Brugmann of the Bay Guardian is one of the most ruthless, money-grubbing "publishers" of all time. He, with the Berkeley Barb and others, sued when the then-Hearst-owned SF Examiner and SF Chronicle created a joint-operating agreement, sharing many things but not newspaper staffs. His point was that the JOA gave the two dailies advantage in ad revenue.

When offered a substantial settlement, Brugmann took it, while the others suing clung on and lost the case. Brugmann used part of the settlement to buy a large building in San Francisco to house the Guardian. The other half, which he had promised to his penuriously paid staff, Brugmann kept for himself. He is nothing like a "Revolutionary War pamphleteer," but rather a yellow-journalism fanatic to whom facts don't matter.

I know. I was one of his victims, as the last editor of the late, lamented feed/back, the California Journalism Review, which perished in 1986, with Brugmann playing a potent supporting role in its demise. He hated the review for having revealed at the time and later reminding readers of his JOA-case settlement and how he cheated the staff he'd promised the other half of the settlement to.

I suppose this case with the Weekly is over, but Brugmann's penchant to sue to collect large sums of money, only some of which he plows back into his publication, is firmly established. I hope he hasn't been able to collect any more than he has from the initial ruling; I hope the court of appeal reversed or will reverse it. It's difficult to believe a jury ever granted him such an award. Perhaps jurors were so titillated by the pro-placed sex ads ("Chicks with Dicks, "escort services," etc.) which, last time I looked, took up lots of ad linage in the Guardian, that they were happy to rule in his favor. Or perhaps they preferred the fact-ignoring or fact-
twisting-to-suit-Brugmann's-
point-of-view staff "reporting."

I pity the SF Weekly if Bruce won on appeal. If that case is still pending, I'd like to know.

bryonyx1 said...

I did not publish this anonymously. It was signed:

Shannon Bryony
San Francisco