San Diego CityBeat: 10 Years Of Wit And Fury
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Aired 8/29/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Dave Rolland, Editor
Kelly Davis, Associate Editor
Mayor's CityBeat Proclamation
When San Diego CityBeat published its first issue, Dick Murphy was the city's mayor and Gray Davis was on borrowed time as the state's governor.
Although Murphy and Davis are gone, CityBeat is still here, a left-leaning fixture in this laid-back, former Navy town. Three of its original staff remain as well: Editor David Rolland, Associate Editor Kelly Davis and columnist Edwin Decker.
The free alternative weekly with a decidedly progressive viewpoint has stuck it out. For 10 years now, it has appeared each Wednesday with its own brand of investigative reporting, outraged editorials and controversial -- some might say offensive -- columns.
Any uproar over opinions expressed (or language used) in the pages of CityBeat seems to breeze right by the editorial staff. Their anniversary issue is, in fact, a series of Top 10 lists of articles designed to stir up trouble: editorial passions, impact on civic affairs, controversial columns, instances of twisted logic.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders also celebrated the alt weekly's birthday with an official proclamation declaring August 24, 2012 "CityBeat Day." Gerry Braun, the mayor's director of special products, appeared at CityBeat's 10th Anniversary celebration to read the proclamation, which he claimed was written by the mayor himself.
"The rivers shall be ordered to run backward and the animals in the zoo set free, and that every child born in San Diego this day shall be given the middle name of CityBeat so that we shall always be reminded of the outstanding work being done on its pages and the great joy we feel on this glorious occasion," the proclamation said.
Another part of that proclamation states CityBeat is "a fierce champion of the underdog, the downtrodden and the homeless."
Rolland told KPBS Midday Edition that he considers underdogs to be both the working poor and "people in the middle class who are fighting to stay in the middle class, to not drop into the ranks of the working poor."
Davis added that the homeless are also the underdogs--a subject CityBeat has covered extensively.
Rolland said part of his philosophy of coverage is that "objectivity in journalism is a myth."
"Subjectivity goes into every decision that's made at any media outlet, from what words are in the headlines to what source gets the first word in the story and the last word to who gets interviewed and what language is used in the story," he said. "You cannot separate your own values, your own opinions from your work."
He said CityBeat's goal instead is to be fair and accurate.
Davis said no newspaper can be separated from its editorial page, and cited U-T San Diego as an example.
"They have a very right-leaning editorial page and so their reporters' work is called into question," she said. "And the same thing has happened to us."
"I love getting feedback on my stories from people who might think it wasn't as balanced as it could be," she added.
Davis also said CityBeat publishes every "Letter to the Editor" that they can verify was sent by a real person.
The 10th Anniversary issue's dedication also credits CityBeat's publisher, Kevin Hellman, for having "pretty much stayed out of the editorial staff's business for 10 years."