A shade over a year after Stephen Buel was bounced as editor of the East Bay Express -- a paper he still co-owns -- he has, improbably, ascended to the same position at the San Francisco Examiner.
"That was not a pleasant moment," Buel, said, recalling his ouster at the Express. "But I'm an optimist and a hardworking guy. I figured I would rebound in some fashion."
Well -- that happened. The Ex - which hired Buel in the waning days of 2010 -- has recently gone through an ownership change; it was dropped by messianic right-wing billionaire Phil Anschutz -- and has since taken a turn away from the tone and coverage of the sort one would associate with an Anschutz-owned paper. The Ex also went through a round of layoffs. Former EIC Deidre Hussey and Assistant Managing Editor for News Will Harper recently left the fold, clearing the path for City Editor Buel.
"They asked me on Monday and it was announced to the staff on Tuesday," he said of his recent promotion. When asked how long he pondered the decision to take the job, he replied "about three seconds."
Aside from learning the nuances of the paper beyond his prior domain of local news coverage, Buel said his mandate is to continue to move away from the paper's prior iteration of being a rightist citadel within a leftist city. He pointed to today's editorial as a step in the right direction.
That op-ed is not yet available online
-- which could be something else for Buel to look into. Yet while the Chronicle
and Business Times
are beating the drum that the recently imploded America's Cup deal represents a "squandered opportunity" for the city to "revitalize" its "crumbling piers," the Ex
has gone the other direction. The title of their editorial: "Cup's downsized pier pact gives S.F. a better deal."
Buel points out that this editorial certainly tacks away from the position being espoused by Mayor Ed Lee -- who, incidentally, will remain a biweekly columnist for the Ex
"I would point to today's editorial as a really good example of how we are a paper in transition," Buel said. "I think both in the editorial page and in the paper, we're going to try to be more reflective of San Francisco."
The EIC also said he wants his staff of seven-and-a-half reporters (there's some half-timers in there) to continue "cranking" -- but "I'll make sure all the reporters have time to dig into the topics they are really passionate about digging into. ... I want them to be able to think and report and chase hunches."
Full disclosure: Will Harper is the former managing editor at
SF Weekly. And a prodigious number of current and former
SF Weekly staffers worked in some fashion for Stephen Buel during his days at the
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