Today’s round of inside media baseball time isn’t a happy one: According to sources close to San Francisco Weekly, today the paper laid off a large number of staffers.
“Apparently it’s across the board in all Village Voice Media, but SF Weekly was hit the hardest because they lose the most money,” said one source, who requested anonymity due to their relationship with the paper. Calls to several members of VVM’s national leadership were not returned at publication time.
Several sources have confirmed that at least four members of the editorial staff were laid off today: Web editor Jake Swearingen, editor of their SFoodie blog, W. Blake Gray, reporter Matt Smith, and calendar editor and blogger Hiya Swanhuyser.
At this point, please assume all the requisite disclaimers: I’ve known Hiya since 2005, was a colleague of Gray’s at the SF Chronicle, and have been friendly with Swearingen since his hiring at the Weekly and friendly with and a fan of Smith’s for as long as I can remember. I like SF Weekly, and all these people, enormously. Reporting this story gives me absolutely no joy.
When contacted by the Appeal, SF Weekly’s editor, Tom Walsh, declined to comment or to refer to me to anyone at VVM who could offer comment. “When we have something to say, we’ll call you” he said, before hanging up, a more than understandable reaction given how unpleasant today must have been for his paper.
SF Weekly, which was somewhat successfully sued by the SF Bay Guardian in 2008, settled with the SFBG in 2011 for an undisclosed sum.
Two months ago, to the day, the Weekly reported that the SFBG had laid off three members of their editorial staff.