Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The East Bay Today: May 22, 2007

Tue, May 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, how-to guru and co-author of Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, speaks at Scott's Seafood Restaurant in Oakland.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Rethinking the Market: How Conservatives Get It Wrong -- and Progressives Can Get It Right, a lecture by progressive economist Dean Baker at the Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Homemade Cafe in Berkeley.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Hone your salsa moves at the Easy Lounge with DJ Joe Quixx.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out The Coolhunter.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Editor's Note: Bringing the Express Back Home

by Stephen Buel
Tue, May 22, 2007 at 12:08 AM

The East Bay Express is once again locally owned and operated.

Last week, a group of local owners bought the paper from Village Voice Media, the national alt-weekly chain that has owned it since early 2001.

I am one of those owners. I have served as editor of the Express since late 2001, and will retain that role at the new paper. I'll be joined in managing the independent Express by Hal Brody, an alternative newsweekly veteran with more than twenty years' experience as publisher of an independent weekly in Kansas City, and Jody Colley, who until recently served as sales and marketing director of the San Francisco Bay Guardian and is now our new publisher. Among our other owners is original Express cofounder Kelly Vance, who has worked at the paper for many years and will once again serve as our chief film reviewer. We all couldn't be more excited about bringing the Express back home and building upon the work of the two prior owners. Given that I have guided the paper's content for almost six years, I am understandably proud of its editorial legacy during that period. We have enlarged and invested in the editorial staff, professionalized the reporting, sharpened our news coverage, and tightened the writing. We've broken hundreds of great stories, won dozens of journalism awards, and strengthened the paper's role as the source of the East Bay's smartest news and entertainment coverage. None of those things will change, foremost among them the quality of our staff and our dedication to providing smart news and arts coverage about the East Bay.

But during our stint with a national chain, we also made decisions that we wouldn't have made as an independent: While our coverage area expanded across most of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, that growth came at the expense of our old friends in Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, and Alameda. Meanwhile, changes to the format and design of the newspaper have made it a far less hospitable home for small advertisers, and placed limits on our community news coverage. Most of our comprehensive calendar listings have been banished to our Web site, EastBayExpress.com. And, because the paper got smaller during 2005 and 2006, we've had to cut back on arts and culture coverage, for which the old Express was justifiably renowned.

As new owners of the paper, we'll be addressing all of these issues. It's going to take time, and few changes will be apparent right away. But over the next few months we'll redesign the paper, build a new Web site, and rethink some of our editorial content. Although we will maintain some circulation throughout most of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, we've already begun the process of returning the majority of our print copies to our historic home in Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, and Alameda. We'll also soon be increasing our weekly circulation from 60,000 to 65,000.

We've all been overwhelmed by the volume and warmth of the feedback we've received since the purchase was announced last week. To the dozens, if not hundreds, of readers and friends whose calls and e-mails I haven't yet responded to, a sincere thanks for your congratulations, and for your support these past six years. And to those of you who haven't been as supportive of the paper in recent years - and I know you're out there too, because you certainly haven't been shy about calling or e-mailing me - I hope the forthcoming changes will encourage you to take another look at the East Bay Express. We believe you'll like what you see.

Monday, May 21, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle to Slash Newsroom Staff

by Lauren Gard
Mon, May 21, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Come fall, the Chronicle's masthead will be 25 percent shorter. "Eighty reporters, photographers, copy editors, and others, as well as 20 employees in management positions are expected to be laid off by end of the summer," the paper reported today. It doesn't exactly come as a surprise - the San Jose Mercury News laid of dozens of newsroom employees late last year, and the Los Angeles Times announced last month that as many as seventy newsroom employees will soon be shown the door. Chron publisher Frank Vega said in the article that the trim has "nothing to do with the cost of Hearst's purchase of it seven years ago, nor has the paper felt any impact from the recent purchase of the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times by MediaNews, which gave the Denver corporation control of most other large daily papers in the Bay Area."

On his blog , Reflections of a Newsosaur, former Chron editor Alan D. Mutter predicts that more trouble lies ahead. "Although the staff reductions will save an estimated $8 million a year in payroll, the amount will cover barely a third of the approximately $25 million that industry experts believe the Chronicle lost in just the first four months of 2007," he wrote in a must-read post Saturday that lends a great deal of insight into the newspaper's trials.

If you're a Chron staffer yearning to share your two cents (about something other than that poor pair of whales, that is), please, go right ahead...

Maybe They Can Use the Gluey Gravy as Reinforcement

by John Birdsall
Mon, May 21, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Declaring, "Highway construction is hungry work," an IKEA ad in yesterday's Chron sought to entice road jockeys working on I-580 flyover repairs with the promise of Swedish meatballs. Under a pyramidal plate of craggy-looking kottbular (said meatballs), the text reads: "At IKEA Emeryville, we're flabbergasted by how fast the mess in the maze has been fixed up. To show our appreciation, we're inviting all employees of Caltrans and C.C. Myers to come have a meal on us. Don't worry, we're making your favorite - Swedish meatballs." Small-point-size legalese says the offer's good for a fifteen-meatball serving, regularly $4.99. "Some products require assembly," it explains, "but not the meatballs. We'll make those for you."

The East Bay Today: May 21, 2007

Mon, May 21, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Taya Mitchell's Red Vessel is on display at the Oakland Museum of California's Sculpture Court at City Center.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Susanna Moore discusses The Big Girls at Cody's in Berkeley.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Noodle Theory in Oakland.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Get out of the bedroom and try your songs at the Songwriter's Symposium at Blake's.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out the Institute of Official Cheer.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Elmwood Mercantile Owner Mum about Ozzie's Closure

Sat, May 19, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Citing possible legal problems with the landlord, Elmwood Health & Mercantile owner Vicky Carter declined to comment on the closure of Ozzie's Soda Fountain earlier this month. The quirky old-school lunch counter was a beloved feature of the Elmwood neighborhood, attracting a mix of families, hipsters, and old-timers through inexpensive BLTs, egg and olive sandwiches, and lovably antiquated fountain drinks. This isn't the first time Ozzie's -- which, along with the Mercantile's predecessor, Elmwood Pharmacy, opened in 1921 -- has seen its milkshake machine sit idle. According to a contemporary account in the Daily Cal, the lunch counter closed temporarily in July 2005 after a dispute with manager Michael Hogan over business hours and other matters.

No word from Carter about reasons for the current closure, or the fate of the counter that's come to define its South Berkeley neighborhood. "In a way it's a personal sadness," said Berkeley resident Marty Schiffenbauer, who's been a Saturday regular for more than 25 years. "You go there for the company." In an email statement, music writer and DJ Derk Richardson (a former Ozzie's soda jerk) was just as mournful: "Although Ozzie retired in 1989, after running the soda fountain since 1950, the lunch counter remained a sentimental gathering spot for 'regulars' and neighborhood activists in the years that followed. ... One of the last of its kind, a true drugstore soda fountain, Ozzie's is an unofficial historical landmark in Berkeley, and although that may not be a good enough reason to try to keep it running, it would be a tremendous loss if the space were gutted and the classic lunch counter and stools relegated to landfill." As for Schiffenbauer and the group of Saturday regulars, they've been meeting at Filippo's, a nearby Italian restaurant. "It's kind of anti-climactic," Schiffenbauer said of the sudden closing. John Birdsall

Friday, May 18, 2007

UC Berkeley J-School to Name New Dean Next Week?

by Lauren Gard
Fri, May 18, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Yesterday, College Ave., a blog out of Ithaca College, reported that a faculty meeting was to be held today at Ithaca's Park School of Communications. Could it be that the topic was current Dean Dianne Lynch's imminent departure? Sure looks that way.

For the past couple weeks, Lynch has been in serious talks with UC Berkeley Provost George Breslauer about taking the reigns as the next dean of the J-school. (Check out our recent blog post on the topic here.) When Breslauer was asked if he could provide an update on the situation, he responded, "Not yet." Lynch could not be reached for comment.

However, a caller claiming to be an Ithaca College professor phoned the Express this morning and left a voicemail. "There's probably a 90 percent chance that in the next week Dianne Lynch is going to announce that she's going to be the new dean at the Berkeley School of Journalism," he said. "The buzz is all over the Park School, has been for a couple days."

The caller said that while Lynch would likely "set the tone" for the announcement at today's faculty meeting, she wasn't planning to make a formal announcement until after the Park School's graduation ceremony Sunday.

There was no way to confirm the caller's identity. When the Express called the telephone number associated with the call, we were connected to the Park School of Communication's main exchange, where a message indicated that all calls originating from the Park School were identified with the same phone number.

Buy Curious: And the Winner of Our Makeover Competition Is ...

Fri, May 18, 2007 at 4:55 PM

This week, Buy Curious bids a fashionable farewell to a beloved (if not a bit bedraggled) colleague who, in the next month, is getting hitched and moving to New York City. We show him what to wear in the Big Apple. And, as always, we give you the lowdown on craft and sample sales for the supercool, and other events you can't miss ...

More …

The East Bay Today: May 18, 2007

Fri, May 18, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: The Oakland East Bay Symphony ends its season with a concert version of Porgy and Bess at Oakland's Paramount Theatre.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Friday Night Meditation with meditation history, posture and breath techniques, chakra exploration, and different styles of meditatio, at the Mandana Community Recovery Center in Piedmont.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Jade Villa in Oakland.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Burlesque comes to the Uptown. Check out the Twilight Vixen Revue & Retro Cabaret and friends tonight at "Vaudeville à la Mode."

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out Chaoscope.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

The East Bay Express Under New Independent Ownership

Fri, May 18, 2007 at 4:55 PM

You read it on SFist, you saw it in the Chron and on the Bay Guardian's site; after the jump get the full details of the Express' new ownership by an independent coalition of alt-weekly veterans!

May 16, 2007

For Immediate Release

BUEL, BRODY TO PURCHASE EAST BAY EXPRESS

Since 2001, Stephen Buel has edited the East Bay Express. Now he's going to be one of its owners.

Village Voice Media, which has owned the Emeryville-based newspaper for six years, announced today that it will sell the Express to a small group of investors headed by Buel, alt-weekly veteran Hal Brody, and long-time Express calendar editor and co-founder Kelly Vance. Brody will take over as publisher of the Express. Buel will stay on as editor.

There will be no job cuts as a result of the sale; all present Express employees are expected to be retained, either by the new ownership group or by Village Voice Media.

"It's great that Hal and Steve will be taking over the Express," said VVM chief executive officer Jim Larkin. "They are amazingly talented people who will devote themselves to continuing the paper's excellence. This was an offer that we simply couldn't refuse."

Buel has worked as a Bay Area journalist for much of the past quarter century. He attended UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where he recently returned as an instructor, and began his career in the East Bay, where he worked for the former Berkeley Gazette and Albany Times-Journal. He also worked in the South Bay at the alternative newsweekly Metro and the San Jose Mercury News.

The East Bay Express began in 1978 and was purchased by Phoenix-based New Times, Village Voice Media's predecessor, in 2001. Buel, whose alt-weekly experience began in 1985, when he founded a paper in Little Rock, Arkansas that was inspired by the Express, was hired as editor soon after.

Under Buel's leadership, the Express has flourished. Last year alone, its writers won top prizes from the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and the James Beard Foundation.

"Reading the early issues of the Express is what motivated me to do this kind of journalism, and editing the paper is the best job I've ever had," said Buel. "It will be an honor to build upon the legacies left by the founders and Village Voice Media."

As an independent record label distributor and the owner of a chain of record stores, Brody began The Pitch in Kansas City almost thirty years ago. He served as the publisher of that paper before selling it to New Times in 1999.

"The East Bay is an exciting and vibrant place," added Brody. "I couldn't be more excited, and I'm very eager to get to know our many fine partners and advertisers. Joining the weekly rhythm of this next leg of the Express journey is truly an opportunity of a lifetime."

Vance was one of the paper's original investors and has acted as film reviewer and calendar editor for many years. He will become the paper's chief film reviewer.

The group of investors also includes long-time alternative weekly publisher Bradley Zeve, founder and CEO of Monterey County Weekly.

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