by Jimmy Boegle
Those of us in the alt-weekly newspaper world have been following--with a mixture of interest, amusement and horror--a trial putting the San Francisco Bay Guardian against S.F. Weekly.
The Cliff's Notes: The San Francisco Bay Guardian is one of the granddaddies of the alternative press; it's been around for more than 40 years ago. The S.F. Weekly was founded in the '80s and has been owned by the New Times chain (now known as Village Voice Media, with headquarters two hours up the road in a little place called Phoenix) since the mid '90s.
The SFBG claims that New Times/Village Voice has been using its out-of-town profits to support SF Weekly while selling below-cost ads--in an effort to put the Bay Guardian out of business. The New Times/Village Voice folks say that's a load of crud, that the lower ad prices have been the result of a horrible newspaper-business environment in the Bay Area for years--an environment that's even jeopardized the future of the dominant area daily, the San Francisco Chronicle.
The SFBG sued New Times/Village Voice, because California law says selling ads below-cost is illegal. And earlier this week, a jury agreed, awarding the SFBG more than $15 million (!) in damages.