Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Poor Grade 

Wednesday, Nov 1 2006
The ongoing funding woes of Grade the News, a Bay Area media watchdog Web site (, qualify as both good news and bad. It's good if you're a newspaper or broadcasting executive tired of having your brazen avarice and slippery ethics bared to the world. It's bad if you're anyone else.

Time and again since its launch in 2000, GTN cast light on the whoring ways of media companies across the region. A few years ago, the site singed the Contra Costa Times for failing to disclose clearly that developers and other advertisers wrote the self-promotional "articles" in the paper's Saturday Homes section. Earlier this year, GTN revealed that medical expert Dean Edell, self-styled as "America's Doctor" on KGO-Channel 7, often relied on canned video segments produced by a Florida news service instead of reporting his own stories.

Such exposés, along with the site's running critique of the corporatization of Bay Area news outlets, earned it a loyal following among ink-stained hacks — and the enmity of their bosses. "It would be fair to say media owners and managers loathe us," says John McManus, GTN's creator and director, who last year moved its office from Stanford University to San Jose State. "They're not fond of being scrutinized."

And so they're probably elated that, after six years, the various foundation grants to which the site owed its existence have dried up. The funding shortage has left GTN in stasis: An article McManus wrote last month marked the first fresh posting since mid-July, and it was little more than the transcript of a radio commentary he delivered on KQED.

Lacking grant money to sustain the site, McManus has thrust his tin cup in the direction of journalism schools and public broadcasting outlets, with scant success. Despite GTN bagging two national awards for media criticism earlier this year, he admits that reviving the site, even as a part-time endeavor, poses "an uphill struggle."

GTN's financial troubles arrive at a time when Dean Singleton, CEO of Media- News, has bought pretty much every newspaper in the region and begun slicing staff; two weeks ago, the Mercury News announced it would lay off 101 employees by mid-December. McManus can only watch, his soapbox in splinters. "There's a real need for analysis of media consolidation and its impact on news coverage," he says. No doubt Singleton would disagree.

About The Author

Martin Kuz


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"