Saturday, March 12, 2005

Having been an interested party in the San Francisco Police Department's denial of press passes to some independent and small press journalists in its overall effort to reduce the number in circulation, I turned my SFPD credential over to Police Sgt. Neville Gittens on Thursday when I ran into him at City Hall on my last day in the field for the San Francisco Examiner. I believe such credentials should be granted to those who make a living at the craft of journalism and now that I'm back to writing for myself after seven years in the business I don't feel I need an official law enforcement credential. Let me say, I do feel a little naked without it. ... Please indulge as I look back, especially on my four years as an Examiner editor and reporter. ... What's always troubled me about industry coverage of the paper is the incessant focus on who's in charge to the exclusion of fair reporting of the actual news product – a remarkably good news product – produced by the kind of folks who wear those SFPD press passes. At The Examiner, I had the privilege of working with many of the Bay Area's finest journalist – folks whose work would stand up anywhere in the field. ... At the moment two years ago when cost-cutting reduced our reporting staff to me and J.K. Dineen, I was working with the most talented group of 10 reporters possible. J.K. and I made a go of it from there, and I believe we made quite a run that last year under the Fang family ownership. ... We owned coverage of the anti-war movement and the insurgent mayoral campaign of Matt Gonzalez, and let the world know about quirky "Only in San Francisco" news like Jim Reid and his little house. We gave San Francisco San Francisco news. ... The mantra was fairness, which meant giving all parties – from the anarchistic Tenants Union to the anti-left SFSOS – the same sort of respect and scrutiny. ... Today the paper remains chock full of talented and conscientious journalists. A diverse media is critical to fair coverage of San Francisco at its best and worst, and I'm glad a stable ownership will provide a second daily newspaper for The City for years to come, even though giving up that press pass wasn't the easiest thing I've done. ...