Vogt Fires Bay Guardian Editor for Refusing to Cut Half of News Staff

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in Media, News

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Published on June 14, 2013 with 23 Comments

San Francisco Bay Guardian Editor Tim Redmond was fired today by San Francisco Newspaper Company publisher Todd  Vogt.  Photo by Luke Thomas.

San Francisco Bay Guardian Editor Tim Redmond was fired today by San Francisco Newspaper Company publisher Todd Vogt. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

Editor’s Note, June 15: For the record, Mr. Vogt has lodged a complaint with FCJ, disputing FCJ’s characterization that Mr. Redmond was fired, insisting Redmond resigned.  While Redmond maintains he did not officially resign, which would be accompanied by a (non-existent) formal letter of resignation, Redmond has conceded that after refusing to agree to staff cuts, he discussed helping with his normal duties during a period of “transition.”  It appears that Vogt has construed “transition” to mean an intent to resign.  Bottom line, after 30 years at the Bay Guardian, Redmond has been effectively ousted and departs without a severance package.

June 14, 2013

Todd Vogt, co-owner of the San Francisco Newspaper Company, which owns a growing portfolio of San Francisco print publications, today fired longstanding San Francisco Bay Guardian editor Tim Redmond.

Vogt axed Redmond for refusing to cut three of six newsroom staff, according to a reliable source who did not want to be cited by name because of fear of retribution. Vogt is claiming to others within the organization that Redmond resigned, “which is a lie,” the source said.

Reached by phone, Redmond told FCJ, “At midnight last night I got a letter from Todd saying ‘your resignation is accepted.’ But I never submitted a resignation.”

Asked why he was fired, Redmond said, “Todd and I had a significant disagreement over personnel.”

Todd Vogt

Todd Vogt. Photo by Mike Koozmin.

Redmond, who worked at the Bay Guardian for 30 years, is the second high-profile casualty since Vogt and company began buying up San Francisco print publications, a portfolio that includes the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In January, Vogt axed SF Weekly editor Tom Walsh.  At the time of Walsh’s termination, Vogt heaped glowing praise upon Redmond saying, “Tim Redmond is the best and most knowledgeable progressive journalist. Period.  Plus he is a phenomenal writer and editor.”

Asked to confirm if Redmond was fired, Vogt told FCJ via email, “No, Tim resigned. Steve Buel appointed Publisher, Marke Bieschke is interim Editor.”

“While I’m sorry to see Tim leave, this gives the Guardian and its staff an opportunity to refresh and invigorate the paper,” Vogt added. “The City has changed dramatically in the 46 years the Guardian has been around and now Marke Bieschke, Steve Jones, Rebecca Bowe and the rest of the staff can help bring new vision to the paper.”

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  • Lame

    FO sf

  • http://scorcher.org/ Jym Dyer

    This is completely insane.

  • Dennis Conkin

    a writer’s editor Redmond will be missed. Heroic fellow, unassuming too.

  • Len Sellers

    Tim Redmond’s relationship with the truth has always been tenuous at best. He seldom let the facts get in the way of a good story. I spent 27 years as a professor of journalism (and am currently emeritus at San Francisco State University) and was always depressed by the Bay Guardian’s myopic version of the real world. Thirty years with almost nothing to remember. That is not a sign of greatness, or even mediocrity.

    • Craig McLaughlin

      This comment makes me so happy that I went to Berkeley instead of San Francisco State or Stanford for my journalism degree. You have to watch those people with advanced communications degrees who forget sometimes that they don’t have a lot of newsroom experience, not counting being a student editor, of course.

      • Thomas Figg-Hoblyn

        LOL

      • gwumpycat

        Can’t actually counter his comments, so you attack his credentials?

        You put the ASSY in classy, my friend!

  • Chance Martin

    Tim Redmond is the editor I always aspired to be.

  • h. brown

    Best of luck,

    To Tim and his family. Writers don’t quit writing. Can’t do it. I’d think his 30 years at the Guardian in installments behind a pay wall might be a hit.

    Go Giants!

    h.

  • craeg

    Best news of the day for anyone who wishes to read a true progressive non dogmatic voice in SF. I can respect that there are lots of people who believe in Tims vision, but as someone who is relatively new to SF politics, he seemed to me to be reflective of an ethos that expired a long time ago. I witnessed time and again the flimsiest of theories in his columns which brought the “trolls” out of the woodwork – which Tim would then engage with .. to very poor result. It felt more like a progressive green acres cartoon strip than a viable progressive voice for 2013. I hope the SFBG turns around.

  • http://district5diary.blogspot.com/ Rob Anderson

    Hate to see anyone lose his job, but the Guardian hasn’t been good for a long time. Party line “progressive” politics that often didn’t fit what was happening in SF. Guardian and city progs have been AWOL while City Hall implements its gentrifying Smart Growth development theory, resulting in grossly out-of-scale projects like UC on the old extension property on lower Haight Street, the Market/Octavia Plan, Rincon Hill highrises, and the Treasure Island and Parkmerced projects. Also complete failure on homelessness, which allowed Gavin Newsom to get elected mayor. Okaying graffiti/tagging vandalism and the nudist creeps in the Castro, etc.

    The progressive agenda in SF needs a complete overhaul/update.

  • AnnGarrison

    Have the staff cuts that Tim Redmond refused to make since been made?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=562995533 Clark Sullivan

    I hate to say it, but I quit reading the SFBG light years ago… Look for most of print and much of mainstream media to go belly up by 2015…

  • AnnGarrison

    The Guardian’s greatest influence was in its local political endorsements. During the many years I lived in San Francisco, I became aware that there were a lot of people who identified as kinda liberal leftish but didn’t actually pay much attention to local politics until it came time to vote and then they’d go grab a Guardian and follow the voters’ guide. It was often difficult to find a Guardian still on the racks at election time.

    I don’t know how true this is now, given the degree to which Web media has displaced print media, but I do wonder about the future of Guardian endorsements.

    • AnnGarrison

      I was intrigued by Vogt’s participation in the hit on Julian Davis, in the 2012 D5 election, as owner of both the Guardian and the Weekly.

      “Vogt confirms that, having heard SF Weekly and another media outlet were reporting a story on Davis, he “went back” to the Guardian editors and “impressed upon them they had to disclose the information they had in a fair and balanced way.” (Weekly, 10.15.2012)

      Unfortunately, the Weekly’s piece was just more of its petty drivel slamming the Guardian, and the Guardian, even after withdrawing its endorsement of Julian Davis, refused to endorse Christina Olague.

      • AnnGarrison

        And just bty, Hope Johnson was among my favorites in that race. She just wasn’t on the list of candidates with a fighting chance by the time so many progressives, including the Guardian editors, threw Davis under the bus.

  • SFReader

    ::cluck::: that’s the sound of me dropping the last of the free weeklies from my regular reading. Buh bye.

  • AnnGarrison

    As soon as I heard this story, the Guardian’s 2012 D5 endorsements were the first thing on my mind. Now, with Steve Jones’s revelations, below, in today’s Guardian, it all makes perfect plutocratic sense:

    “A perhaps more significant conflict over control of the Guardian came during the fall election when Vogt clashed with Redmond and Jones over the supervisorial endorsement in District 5. First Vogt opposed endorsing Julian Davis, but ultimately made it clear that it was the Guardian’s call. After Davis was hit with new sexual misconduct allegations and responded badly to the developments, the Guardian revoked the Davis endorsement.

    We then contemplated endorsing Christina Olague — who had regained progressive favor after defying Mayor Ed Lee on a couple of high-profile issues — but Vogt refused to allow it.

    ‘He told me his newspapers would not be endorsing Christina Olague,’ Redmond said, a point that Vogt confirmed, explaining only that he didn’t want to revisit the D5 endorsement after the Davis debacle.

    Redmond said that Vogt then ‘threatened to fire me’ for running a pro-Olague op-ed from longtime queer activist Cleve Jones, despite Redmond’s explanation that the Guardian oftens runs guest editorials during election season supporting candidates other than those endorsed by the Guardian.”

    http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/06/18/guard-story-behind-bay-guardian%E2%80%99s-new-ownership-and-departure-editor-publisher-t?page=1#comment-106742

  • Ace Backwords

    Good riddance to Redmond. I guess people will just have to find some other outlet for the same old dull, regurgitated “progressive-slash-liberal” pablum.

  • Hope Johnson

    Tim Redmond regularly used the SF Bay Guardian at election time to fuck over good people for some of the most disingenuous SF political organizers and then, in similar fashion, facilitated selling his beloved paper to immoral Todd Vogt. What comes around goes around; it’s called karma. Face it – Mr. Redmond was finally hoisted by his own petard.

    • AnnGarrison

      I started having a lot of objections to Guardian endorsements after I finally grew out of voting the local Guardian ticket, which l did for years, like a lot of left liberal/progressive types, before I started paying real attention to local politics.

      But whatever we think of those endorsements, it should now be clear that Todd Vogt has the final call and won’t hesitate to make it as he did in D5, 2012.

  • james

    GOP douchebag Todd Vogt!!!