The Chronicle didn’t cover it, but below are four reports on yesterday’s opening statements in the Bay Guardian’s lawsuit against the SF Weekly and its owner, Village Voice Media. The Guardian, owned by Bruce Brugmann, claims the rival paper sold ads at below cost in order to run his paper out of business. The SF Weekly countered yesterday by saying that Brugmann’s paper didn’t keep up with changing market conditions, and blamed the competition on his business problems.
- • The Guardian: “…the trial will come down to the question of intent and the damage that the Weekly and its chain owners have done to the Guardian.”
• The SF Weekly: Andy Van De Voorde, executive associate editor of the SF Weekly’s owner, Village Voice Media, has been brought in to cover the trial.
• BeyondChron: Ben Malley writes, “At the heart of the case for those who care about the fate of independent media is that the Guardian has been forced to trim staff in order to cut costs. This has resulted in a decline in the resources the paper has to operate as a news organization, making it a less effective entity than it was previously.”
• San Francisco Daily: Reporter Richard Cole writes, “The Weekly has lost money for 11 straight years by slashing advertising rates below the Guardian’s, said Guardian attorney Ralph Alldredge. The Weekly lost $25 million over that period, $15 million of that in the last three years. And the paper collects only $2,000 in ads for a page that costs $2,800 to make, he told jurors. ‘If you are not in business to make a profit, what are you trying to do,’ Alldredge said.”
The trial before Judge Marla Miller in Department 318 of San Francisco Superior Court is expected to last four to five weeks.