When I came to work for the Marina Times, I had no idea how much it would change my life. David Ish, who founded The New Fillmore newspaper, bought the publication from Maggie McCall in August 2002 and, because he liked the writing I had been doing for him at The New Fillmore and knew I had graphic design experience on a Mac, he asked me to be his new editor.
Under David’s ownership the Marina Times flourished, and the new Living section I created – food, wine, arts, entertainment, pets, sports, and events – was a huge hit. David decided to spin off the section and call it “Northside,” a reference to the northern neighborhoods of the City he planned to focus on. I was never sold on the name or the concept, and I asked him to leave the Living section in the Marina Times where I felt it belonged, but, as often happened with David, I lost the argument.
By 2006 when I bought both papers, Northside San Francisco was gaining in readership. My 2009 cover story, “How the San Francisco SPCA let us down,” which detailed rampant overspending on a boondoggle hospital and high-paid executives while the organization took less than 10 percent of its dogs from San Francisco, and several follow-up articles, caused the president and vice president both to step down, as well as a big shake-up on the board of directors. The stories went viral, and it cemented Northside S.F.’s reputation as a serious source for investigative journalism. In 2010 I discovered what I felt were glaring ethical issues regarding the Stow Lake Boathouse – particularly the fact that City Attorney Dennis Herrera, then a candidate for mayor, was using Alex Tourk’s Ground Floor Affairs, the same P.R. firm selected by Recreation and Park director, Phil Ginsberg, to bring in an out-of-state concessions company to replace the current leaseholders, who were in the process of suing the city. Over the following weeks, the dailies and weeklies picked up the story; Tourk was forced to resign from Herrera’s campaign, and an investigation was launched (though Herrera made sure it fell into a black hole by sending it to an “unbiased” Oakland D.A.’s office, which had no D.A. at the time).
I’ve always felt that community and neighborhood journalism are the real sources of news – we’re hyper-local, we care about the neighborhoods we cover, and we don’t spread ourselves too thinly. As an independent monthly, we also have the time and the freedom to do undercover investigations – like the four months I spent on the SF/SPCA piece – and not have to answer to someone at the top who perhaps doesn’t like the fact we’re calling out a popular, powerful and wealthy nonprofit. (In fact, no other publication would touch the SF/SPCA story – not the Chronicle, not the Examiner, not the Guardian.) Because of our independence and community focus, we are able to take on these stories and help to effect change (though, as an upcoming article about the SF/SPCA will show, sometimes not enough).
As Northside S.F. has grown, however, so have the demands of running two publications, and it has become increasingly difficult to devote equal amounts of time and energy to both Northside S.F. and the Marina Times. And so we have decided, as the Marina Times celebrates its 26th anniversary, to bring Northside S.F. back as the Living section of that newspaper – just as I created it to be a decade ago.
You’ll still find all your favorite writers, from Bellingham to Zipperer. And you can expect the same no-nonsense coverage of city politics; we will continue to call out nonprofits and others when they misbehave; and we will still cover food, arts, entertainment, pets, sports, and events from the Northside and beyond. You will find the new Northside Living section everywhere you find the Marina Times: in the big green news racks, at retail locations, and if you live in the Marina, it will be delivered to your door with your copy of the Marina Times. You can find us online too, at www.marinatimes.com (where you can access past issues). Publisher Earl Adkins, best known for transforming KQED’s Focus magazine into an award-winning publication, is heading up a team that is working on an interactive new website and updated design for the publication as well, so watch for those in the coming months.
By devoting all of our time and attention to one publication, we will be able to bring you a much more focused, robust, diverse offering with something for everyone – from what new shops are opening on Chestnut Street to the newest restaurants in North Beach to how merchants and community groups are faring in their continuing effort to see both sides and do what’s best for their neighborhoods. We are excited about our move, and we hope you will join us!