harper.jpgIt’s inside media baseball time! In today’s episode, the managing editor of a popular local weekly publication is packing his bags, headed to SF’s only free print daily paper.

Will Harper, who joined the SF Weekly as managing editor in 2007, after stints at the Berkeley Voice, San Jose Metro, and East Bay Express, has been hired by the San Francisco Examiner (that’s the newspaper, not the content farm) as their new Assistant Managing Editor for News, SF Examiner executive editor Deidre Hussey confirmed to the Appeal today.

Harper will be in charge of all local content in the SF Examiner newsroom, Hussey said. He will be taking over the role currently occupied by Mike Billings, who is taking on a new role as online editor.

Disappointingly, I was unable to reach Harper by his desk or cell phone, by publication time. Which is too bad, as he gave me a bit of a (fun! playful!) hard time the last time *I* had a “real” job. I was so hoping I could return the favor! I will have to settle for the email he sent me, saying (in part) “Yes, it’s true — I’ve accepted a job at the Examiner as an assistant managing editor. I’ll be managing the newsroom and reporting to Deirdre.”

So, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask him if this move means he suspects job security at the SF Weekly, which was somewhat successfully sued by the SF Bay Guardian in 2008, and now reportedly owes them $21 million bucks (the “somewhat” is because the case is still being appealed by the Weekly), placing the future of the Weekly, some say, in question.

I also would have liked to ask him if he’s looking forward to working with the SF Examiner’s political columnist Melissa Griffin, whom Harper once referred to, rather ignominiously, as a “ GILF (Gadfly I’d Like to Fuck) MILF (Moderator I’d Like to Fuck).” (If one day I find myself Brian “PILF (Pitcher I’d Like to Fuck)” Wilson’s boss, I will certainly turn to Harper for advice on that awkward issue. Oh, to dream.)

The SF Weekly’s editor, Tom Walsh, will be wasting no time in seeking a replacement for Harper. “We’ll be putting an ad (for Harper’s replacement) in the paper and a number of websites starting tomorrow,” Walsh said (update: here they are!). “I have always appreciated his input in the paper and it will be tough to replace him, but life goes on, and so are we.”

Before I say this next thing, I should disclose that Hussey and I are friendly, and I like her personally a great deal. So, that’s my disclaimer. But as a daily reader of the Examiner, I feel it’s improved a great deal in the last few months under her leadership, and as a daily reader of the Weekly, I am quite eager to see where Harper fits in in all this. And find out, we soon shall, as Harper is expected to begin work at the Ex in mid-December, said Hussey.

“It’s a great gain for us” said Hussey. “Everyone at the SF Examiner is very excited.”

Photo of Harper: LinkedIn

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Greg Dewar

    Will and Tom at the Weekly were really great to work with when I coauthored the Muni Death Spiral piece with Joe Eskenazi earlier this year. They provided excellent guidance and helped us make a great cover story. I’m sorry to hear that he’s leaving SF Weekly, but the Examiner will no doubt be a better place for having him on board. I just hope the SF Weekly stays good – seems like lately they’ve been doing some Guardian-style stuff with their cover stories and that’s not a good thing.

  • Greg Dewar

    Will and Tom at the Weekly were really great to work with when I coauthored the Muni Death Spiral piece with Joe Eskenazi earlier this year. They provided excellent guidance and helped us make a great cover story. I’m sorry to hear that he’s leaving SF Weekly, but the Examiner will no doubt be a better place for having him on board. I just hope the SF Weekly stays good – seems like lately they’ve been doing some Guardian-style stuff with their cover stories and that’s not a good thing.

  • Brock Keeling

    China Basin won’t be the same without, Will!

  • Brock Keeling

    China Basin won’t be the same without, Will!

  • violet blue

    I’m moved to comment on how well written this piece is; there are a lot of things at play here, and you really balanced insider POV, history, opinion and telling the story.

    I don’t have sympathy for anyone involved, but I do think the decisions are… weird. Things can’t feel comfortable at the Weekly.

    Also, Billings’ bio on the Ex is arrogant, like he can’t be bothered. Not a good sign; but then again, we’re used to unprofessionalism in Bay Area news. Here’s his actual experience:

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikebillings

    Very disappointing that he has no web experience in his resume; whereas Harper’s former job description requires “experience in all areas: news, culture, web.”

    ::sigh

  • violet blue

    I’m moved to comment on how well written this piece is; there are a lot of things at play here, and you really balanced insider POV, history, opinion and telling the story.

    I don’t have sympathy for anyone involved, but I do think the decisions are… weird. Things can’t feel comfortable at the Weekly.

    Also, Billings’ bio on the Ex is arrogant, like he can’t be bothered. Not a good sign; but then again, we’re used to unprofessionalism in Bay Area news. Here’s his actual experience:

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikebillings

    Very disappointing that he has no web experience in his resume; whereas Harper’s former job description requires “experience in all areas: news, culture, web.”

    ::sigh