Celebrating San Francisco in all its complicated glory

The new S.F. Examiner uses storytelling in service of building a better city

By Carly Schwartz

San Francisco has no shortage of challenges right now.

More residents are unhoused than ever before. Our leaders can’t make decisions about whether to close down a street in Golden Gate Park or build new housing on an empty parking lot. When I walk my dog, we frequently tiptoe around shattered glass on the sidewalk from yet another car break-in. Our school district is so broke it faces state takeover if it can’t get its finances in order.

These problems are made even more glaringly obvious when perusing the news headlines. Scroll through recent articles about San Francisco on any given day—both locally and nationally—and you’ll see a spate of stories about how our crime-addled wasteland has reached the point of no return. Our reputation has sunk so low that now journalists are even writing pieces about our image problem. How meta.

And yet for so many reasons, San Francisco remains a world-class, multifaceted, colorful city. More funding poured in to support local startups than in any other region of the world last year. City Hall is sitting on a surplus of cash to combat homelessness. Public art is popping up in neighborhoods across town, from the new installation outside the Asian Art Museum to the mural in the Mission honoring Carlos Santana and his little brother. Our problems might be myriad, but so are the ways in which we can tackle them.

Human beings have the unique characteristic of making sense of the world through storytelling. Stories reflect our reality, and society in turn is shaped by the stories we tell ourselves. If we continue to perpetuate the narrative that San Francisco is irreparably broken, our city will only break down further. It’s time to use storytelling in service of building a better place to live and work.

That’s where The San Francisco Examiner comes in. For the first time in many years, The City’s oldest newspaper is under local ownership and growing. Since I came on board as editor in chief six months ago, my team has been hard at work reimagining our future. Today, we’re proud to unveil the first of many new initiatives: a redesigned print edition that reflects the real San Francisco, in all its complicated glory.

The pages of the new Examiner don’t look like a traditional newspaper. We’ve sectioned them out in five key ways that capture The City through a fresh perspective:

Findings takes a deeper look at the stories behind the headlines. Rather than chronicling San Francisco’s day-to-day happenings, like other local papers do, we’ll examine why things are the way they are, in order to fundamentally make sense of our issues and how we might be able to address them.

Fixes explores how we then might begin to approach our problems. Studies have shown that solutions-oriented journalism makes readers more likely to seek out the news, increases problem-solving skills and motivates readers to get involved in their communities. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we certainly want to explore what they might look like.

Faces brings to life the many characters spread across our 49 square miles. Cities are made up of people, and the more personalities we can pack into our pages, the more accurate a depiction of our home we can present. We’ll use this section to profile and amplify the interesting voices that keep San Francisco moving forward every day.

Forum allows us to take a stand on issues and bring forth strong, searing, cutting-edge points of view. We aren’t afraid of crusading for a better San Francisco, and in order to do this, we must hold our leaders accountable. We’ll cultivate an array of sharp perspectives, buoyed by facts, so readers can form informed opinions about pertinent affairs.

And finally, Fanfare captures the local zeitgeist through arts, leisure, food, culture and sports. After all, it’s still important to have some fun! Our critics and experience junkies will preserve our culture both for ourselves and future generations. This moment in time is meaningful and interesting—especially as we emerge from a global pandemic—and there’s room to revel in it.

We hope you enjoy the first edition of our reinvented approach to local news. Use these pages to forge a deeper connection to the San Francisco you know and love—a complex city that’s worth approaching with a critical eye, but also worth celebrating.

Carly Schwartz is editor in chief of The San Francisco Examiner.

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