As a journalist, I know that “cruel irony” is often an overused phrase. However, it is the best one I can find to describe the situation the San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly are facing at this moment. The readership at our publications is at record levels during this pandemic. In one day alone in March, the number of pageviews on the Examiner website was 6,000 times above our average readership. It illustrates how much readers want accurate information about the coronavirus that is timely and explains how it is impacting their communities in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We provide that every day, all day.
Yet, this week, I was faced with the heartbreaking task of reducing the hours — and therefore the pay — of the very journalists, including myself, who report, write, edit and photograph that news.
Besides daily updates about the growing number of cases in San Francisco, and a constant stream of crucial breaking news about the coronavirus, they report on its far-reaching impact on the lives of residents: job losses, mental health, people left behind, transit operators and more. They do this every day in a city that is essentially in lockdown.
Our mission at the San Francisco Media Co. has always been to provide local news online and in print that is unencumbered by paywalls and subscription fees. Doing that requires the support of our advertisers, and you (more on that to come). Unfortunately, many of our advertisers have been forced to close, or else they are significantly cutting expenses in an effort to stay afloat. And it is becoming clear that the battle to limit the spread of this deadly virus will take months, not weeks. Without the usual advertising revenues coming in, we have had to take dramatic steps to reduce our expenses.
These cuts in hours and pay impact everyone in the San Francisco Media Co., including the publisher, as we try to build a bridge from the current crisis to our future recovery.
Due to the deep declines in advertising and because fewer people are in The City every day to pick up the print version of our publications, we have temporarily stopped producing SF Weekly and SF Evergreen in print. The Examiner is being published in print as usual, but by a staff with reduced hours.
The reductions are intended to help us get through to the other side of the pandemic. But we still need your help. The membership program at the Examiner started last November is a way for community members to show that they support free journalism that is unlike any other coverage in The City. In return, we provide members benefits for joining. We know that this crisis is impacting many people. And, if you are one of the people who is hurting financially, and cannot join our program now, make a note to yourself to do so someday. Meanwhile, would you consider sending the information about the program to someone who may be in a better position to help us?
As journalists, we are not in this profession because the pay and hours are good. We do what we do, we write, edit, shoot photos and lay out pages, because we believe in the mission of keeping people informed with accurate, timely and compelling journalism. Please, help us continue to do what we do best. And please contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org You may join at www.sfexaminer.com/join/ or email email@example.com
Thank you for reading.
Editor-in-Chief, San Francisco Media Co.