Offbeat: A New Kind of Newspaper
Posted: 2/11/2014 | By: Nu Yang
After serving 31 years at weekly alternative newspaper, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Tim Redmond has launched a progressive online publication called 48 Hills: The Secrets of San Francisco (48hillsonline.org).
“There are 47 named hills in San Francisco, but there is always one more hill to climb,” Redmond said, explaining the website’s name.
According to reports, Redmond left the Guardian last June after disputes with the paper’s new owners over personnel changes. Despite his long career at the Guardian, Redmond predicted in 10 years, the print daily newspaper model would be over. He saw more publications moving online, which is why he decided to make his new journalism venture digital-only.
Redmond introduced 48 Hills during a soft launch in December. The website’s first articles revolved around controversial news items, such as the city’s housing market, a church sex scandal and a rape case.
“Right now, it’s mostly news, but I want to build in arts and culture later,” he said.
Redmond said after publishing several big stories on the site, he has heard positive feedback from readers because “We’re not content aggregators; we publish original reporting. People are excited to see another news outlet.”
Even with limited resources and staff, Redmond said he finds his stories like every other reporter: either by going down to city hall and through tips. He also follows the same advice he tells his journalism students when it comes to story ideas, “JDLR. It’s what just doesn’t look right.”
Redmond plans to operate as a non-profit business for two reasons, he said, “It frees you from having to worry about investors and it creates a viable, sustainable model.”
Currently, Redmond is collecting funds through donations and by looking into foundation grants. He also plans to put ads on the site. While other non-profit journalism start-ups begin on a larger scale, Redmond said he is starting small, and then building up.
So far, he has raised $40,000. In his first year, Redmond said he would like to raise $250,000 to $300,000 to pay expenses and hire more writers.
After a launch party last month, he said his goals include redesigning the website in order to showcase the content in a better way. “By February, I want it to be fully developed.”
Even though Redmond has left his print journalism days behind him, he is still passionate about San Francisco news. “This is my city…the industry is changing and it needs more progressive news outlets. Journalism needs a new model to move forward, and this is an exciting, new opportunity.”