Letters to the Editor

Week of March 28, 2001

The New Zine in Town

Assertion:You have fairly thin skin:Your piece on city magazines hit a nerve with this magazine editor ("Magazine Dreams," March 14, on the new San Francisco monthly 7x7), because it was such a good example of really bad journalism. Luckily for all of us, you will get your comeuppance, as you'll see from my final point.

Assertion: San Francisco magazine is one of the weakest city magazines. Truth: Last year, San Francisco was named the third-best city magazine in the country by city magazine editors.

Assertion: San Francisco magazine is owned by Diablo Publications in Walnut Creek. Truth: Diablo owns none of San Francisco magazine, having sold it to local investors, including publisher Steven Dinkelspiel, 2 1/2 years ago.

Assertion:John Burks at San Francisco State is an informed critic of city magazines. Truth: Apparently not, because nearly everything he said about my magazine was either false or dated. Yet he was the only local source quoted. Nice reporting job.

Assertion: San Francisco magazine is "mostly service" and is (a quote from Burks) "pimping lots of pictures of rich people cooking food." Truth: By far the most pages go to "long features on compelling, relevant topics and more digestible columns that critique and investigate San Francisco life," as you categorized it; only about a quarter of the editorial is service, and the only cooking story we've done in the months since I started was on the home cooking of a South of Market welder.

Assertion: I am "a veteran of Health." Truth: That's one way to put it. I was the executive editor of Health, which was just nominated for a National Magazine Award (the Oscars of our industry) as the nation's best magazine with circulation above 1 million. The other nominees are Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, and Vanity Fair.

Assertion:Tom Hartle of 7x7 is an editorial guru. Truth: Mr. Hartle is a publisher and an ad salesman. And the former magazine at which he served those roles, Hour[in Detroit], was distinguished by a lush look -- not by any particular commitment to serious journalism.

Assertion: SF Weeklyreaders might really like 7x7. Truth: SF Weeklyshould prepare to take heat for hyping a pretty free giveaway while painting the city magazine most committed to covering life in this region with a dated and weirdly mean-spirited brush.

Bruce Kelley
Editor-in-Chief,
San Francisco magazine
North Beach

Editor's note:Regarding the ownership of San Francisco, Brendan Casey, chief financial officer of Diablo Publications, explains it this way: Diablo bought San Francisco Focus (the precursor to today's San Francisco) from KQED, then created a separate company, SF Focus LLC, to which it sold San Francisco. But Diablo Publications' Web site still refers to San Francisco as one of its "properties," and even the receptionist at Diablo, when asked, said Diablo owns San Francisco. Casey replies, "We're not a parent company; we're more like brother and sister companies. When someone calls up wanting to advertise in Diablo magazine, and I think they are better suited for San Francisco magazine, I'll refer them to San Francisco. But we're not the same company."

If you'd put a half-dressed Herb Caen on the cover, you'd still be in business: Like Yogi Berra once said, it's déjà vu all over again. Having birthed my own Bay Area magazine with the cheeky name of Frisko, to go head-to-head with KQED's Focus, back in the pre-dot-com '90s, I must admit it was a fun ride, journalistically speaking. But what an uphill battle -- like walking up Fillmore after a night of carousing along Chestnut Street. The Bay Area is an archipelago of geographical regions separated by water, highways, culture, interests, passion, ideas. Marin is not Berkeley is not Pacific Heights is not Burlingame. I wish the best of luck to the new publisher in town, with his grand plans to shake up the media landscape. But a few tips: The best-selling newsstand issues of Frisko featured either a half-dressed woman or a celebrity like Herb Caen, who told me, "Don't call it Frisco? -- I don't care what people call this city." As far as the name of the upstart mag, isn't 7x7a bit obscure? The San Francisco Bay Area really can't be defined by latitude or longitude or square miles. It's a state of mind, of experimentation, of testing new ideas, of forging new inroads into the future, and now a haven of cyberworkaholics. The new guy in town should have called his mag 24/7. As Bill Gates would say, "Do the math." Much larger audience here.

Bill Katovsky
Mill Valley

A Price to Pay

Harsh judgment:After I read Peter Byrne's account of his own experience with Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel ("Old Wounds," Postscript, March 14), as well as listened to the couple tell their "side" of the story to the media time and again since Diane Whipple's death, I find myself wishing that "an eye for an eye" is an acceptable form of punishment in this country. I think the only appropriate sentence for this despicable pair is to suffer the same fate as Diane Whipple did. I hope that for the sake of Whipple's partner and her family, Knoller and Noel will be dealt with as severely as possible by the law they have tried to manipulate in their favor for so long. For the rest of us, it's disgusting to witness how far the morally bankrupt will go to avoid taking responsibility for their own grievous actions.

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