I hope Pat Glynn is proud of us--he's the guy who in 2003 launched Fahrenheit San Diego, a spirited yet short-lived weekly that focused largely on visual art and music. In a June 26, 2003, story in the Union-Tribune, Glynn said he expected Fahrenheit to be in it for the long haul and that 'after a year maybe, I think there'll be only two [weeklies in San Diego] left standing.' Having just said he expected Fahrenheit to succeed, and assuming he wasn't forecasting the demise of the San Diego Reader, one of the country's most financially successful weeklies, we concluded at the time that Glynn wasn't optimistic about CityBeat's chances.
Fahrenheit folded about a year-and-a-half later. This week, CityBeat turns 5. We launched on Aug. 21, 2002.
But there's no room in the current print-media environment for neener-neenery. I can't lie to you--this business is a struggle. Our parent company, Southland Publishing Inc. spent a significant amount of money getting CityBeat on its feet during the first couple of years. Happily, the paper is paying for itself each week now, and we've begun paying Southland back.
However, whereas we're dying to get into the neighborhood of 72 to 80 pages each week, we're still slogging along at 48 or 52. We survive strictly on advertising dollars, and advertising is a gamble for small businesses. It ain't cheap, there's no guarantee that it'll bear fruit and there's no quid pro quo--no editorial coverage in exchange for advertising (which we've found occurs in San Diego at a troubling rate). We so appreciate the businesses that do take a chance on us, and we hope more businesses will help us reach that critical mass of advertisers, that point at which other businesses feel they simply must be in our paper. You readers can help: If you love CityBeat, please tell our advertisers so.
We started this little beast because we believed San Diego needed it. At the time, folks here were served by one daily newspaper with an editorial stance that's far more conservative than the average San Diegan, a smattering of community papers, a couple of glossy mags catering to wealthy citizens and the Reader, which is an anomaly in the alternative-weekly industry, what with its crusading publisher's biases against the gay community and reproductive freedom. There was no publication that represented the city's politically progressive population, no publication that focused on street-level arts and culture and no publication that told stories with lively, conversational flair. It's in these three areas that I believe CityBeat has done its job particularly well.
Launching as we did during the lie-riddled run-up to war, we have taken firm stances against President Bush's disastrous foreign policies. We've proudly defended the civil rights of those who are gay or insufficiently documented--the two groups upon which too many Americans feel it's still OK to heap their bigotry. And we've tried to nudge City Hall down an ever more populist path. Meanwhile, we've poked some groups in ways they didn't want to be poked. We've managed to irk both Jews and Palestinians. We've had homophobes tell us we're too gay, and we've had members of the gay community threaten a boycott (go figure). We even had representatives of the local hip-hop community burst into our offices armed with indignation and a video camera. My personal favorite CityBeat pokee is the U-T's 'Bowtie Bob' Kittle, who once, in an amusing fit of uptight-itis, refused to appear on KPBS radio alongside the likes of me.
If you'll indulge me a bit longer, I'd like to give props to my team: Eric Wolff's been with us for a year and has followed in the tradition of former CityBeat news-excavators John Lamb and Daniel Strumpf. He was also the driving force behind our eclectic blog, Lastblogonearth.com. Kia Momtazi is our vibrant part-time writer and utility player--a natural feature writer if there ever was one. Arts editor Kinsee Morlan is our unsung and underappreciated hero. A voracious consumer of underground happenings and a promoter in her own right, Kinsee's become a vital part of San Diego's cultural scene during her two-and-a-half years with CityBeat. And two staffers who helped found CityBeat: Troy Johnson and Kelly Davis. Troy is probably the most important taste-maker in the local music scene and a remarkably creative writer, and big-hearted Kelly has carved her own niche as a chronicler of social ills--to a large extent, she's CityBeat's conscience.
We also couldn't survive without longtime contributors Edwin Decker, Anders Wright, Marty Westlin, Caley Cook, Jed Gottlieb and Bart Mendoza, as well as relatively newer contributors like D.A. Kolodenko, Aaryn Belfer, Candice Woo, Justin Roberts, AnnaMaria Stephens, Angela Carone and everyone else who has worked for CityBeat in exchange for meager financial reward, including those in the ad and art departments. My appreciation for their loyalty is boundless.
An now, onward toward our 10-year anniversary. Thanks so much for reading.
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