The View turns 49 years old this month. It’s an astonishing accomplishment: almost 600 issues produced, perhaps 15,000 pages, by an un- or poorly paid crew dedicated to civic journalism. By all accounts the monthly is a beloved community institution, a colorful, informative, thread in the fabric of our neighborhoods. It’s a place – now pretty much the only place – where children can see their photographs and accomplishments printed on paper suitable as a keepsake; in which such essential topics as the loss of parking spaces, the unknown fame of a neighbor, and impending changes to parks and schools, among other subjects, are regularly covered.
The paper wouldn’t exist today except for the willingness of its staff to volunteer much of their efforts, and the steadfast support of a double-handful of awesome advertisers, The Good Life Grocery and Compass realtor Tim Johnson, chief among them. Zephyr realtors
Melinda Lee, Susan Olk, Wendy Watkins and Wes Freas, Sotheby’s realtor Mary Lace, St. Teresa of Avila Church, Rickshaw Bagworks, Kaiser Permanente, Scheffel Foundation, and Farley’s have been essential patrons. And the paper would be less robust without ads placed by Frames on 3rd, Hazel’s Kitchen, Museum of Craft and Design, Crowded Fire Theater, NOVY, Compass realtor Claudia Siegel, Primi Residential Mortgage, Inc., and Centered Body Pilates, among others.
View staff are dedicated to keeping the paperalive and healthy until at least our 50th anniversary, August 2020. Whether or not we live on to celebrate our 51st birthday, or hold a funeral next year, is up to you.
Over the past half-decade there’s been a steady decline in advertising revenue, forcing the View to shrink from a peak of 40 pages a month to as few as a barely viable one-dozen. The publication is far from alone in grappling with drastic reductions in its income; every newspaper in the country faces the same sour challenge, apart perhaps from such heavy hitters as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Like respectful civic engagement and healthy eco-systems, journalism, at least of the kind practiced throughout the 20th Century, is an endangered species.
A robust View, with an average of 24-pages a month, and modestly paid writers, editors, and production personnel, costs roughly $215,000 a year, or the equivalent in volunteer labor, to maintain. Our current advertisers, subscribers, helpers and supporters contribute roughly half that amount, in cash or in-kind. We need your assistance to secure the rest and are quite open to creative ideas on how to do so.
Direct donations – which are tax deductible if made through SF Community Power – are certainly welcome. So too are innovative collaborations – perhaps a business or nonprofit could sponsor all or part of a monthly issue – community ownership ideas – such as selling shares in the View – assistance with marketing and fundraisers, and volunteering to write, photograph, or edit. We welcome all assistance and advice as to how the paper can reestablish its financial sustainability and continue to serve our neighborhoods for a long time to come. Or at least into the next U.S. president’s first term.
It’s possible that the View has achieved its purpose, fulfilled the dreams of its 1970s-era founders to contribute to community cohesiveness and offer engaging, actionable, information to an oft-neglected part of the City. Maybe social media, and the San Francisco Chronicle, assuming it continues to exist into the future, are enough now. I’m guessing, though, that if next September View readers wander to their favorite distribution spot and the paper isn’t there, never to return, it will be felt as a profound, and unnecessary, loss.
Please do what you can to help, in whatever form that takes: 1459 18th Street, Number 214, San Francisco, California 94107, editor [at] potreroview.net, 415.643.9578.