Celebrating San Francisco in all its difficult glory

From Carly Schwartz

San Francisco currently has no shortage of challenges.

More residents are uninhabited than ever before. Our guides cannot decide whether to close a street in Golden Gate Park or build new homes in an empty parking lot. When I walk my dog, we often tiptoe around broken glass on the sidewalk from another car break-in. Our school district is so broke that it faces a government takeover if it doesn’t get its finances in order.

These problems become even more apparent when you read the headlines. On any day, flick through breaking articles about San Francisco – both locally and nationally – and you’ll see a barrage of stories about how our criminal wasteland reached the point of no going back. Our reputation has sunk so low that even journalists are now writing about our image problem. Like meta.

Yet San Francisco remains a world-class, diverse, and colorful city for so many reasons. In the past year, more funds were allocated to support local start-ups than in any other region in the world. City hall is sitting on excess cash to fight homelessness. Public art is popping up in neighborhoods across the city, from the new installation in front of the Asian Art Museum to the mural in the mission honoring Carlos Santana and his little brother. Our problems may be numerous, but so are the ways we can address them.

Humans have the unique ability to give meaning to the world through storytelling. Stories reflect our reality, and society, in turn, is shaped by the stories we tell ourselves. If we keep up the story that San Francisco was irreparably broken, our city will only continue to collapse. It’s time to use storytelling to create a better place to live and work.

This is where The San Francisco Examiner comes in. For the first time in many years, the city’s oldest newspaper is locally owned and growing. Since I came on board as Editor-in-Chief six months ago, my team has worked hard to reshape our future. Today we are proud to introduce the first of many new initiatives: a redesigned print edition that reflects the real San Francisco in all its intricate glory.

The new Examiner’s pages don’t look like a traditional newspaper. We’ve broken them down into five key ways that capture The City from a new perspective:

Results takes a deeper look at the stories behind the headlines. Rather than recording everyday events in San Francisco as other local newspapers do, we will examine why things are the way they are in order to fundamentally understand our problems and how we can address them.

corrections explores how we could then begin to address our problems. Studies have shown that solution-oriented journalism makes readers more likely to search for news, increase problem-solving skills, and motivate readers to engage with their community. We’re not pretending to have the answers, but we definitely want to explore what they might look like.

Faces brings to life the many characters spread across our 49 square miles. Cities are made up of people, and the more personalities we can pack into our pages, the more accurately we can represent our home. We will use this section to profile and reinforce the interesting voices that drive San Francisco forward each day.

Forum enables us to take a stand on issues and take strong, sharp, innovative standpoints. We are not afraid to fight for a better San Francisco, and to do so we must hold our leaders accountable. We will cultivate a number of keen, fact-borne perspectives to enable readers to form an educated opinion on relevant matters.

And finally, fanfare captures the local zeitgeist through art, leisure, food, culture and sport. After all, having fun is still important! Our critics and experience junkies will preserve our culture both for ourselves and for future generations. This moment is meaningful and interesting – especially when we are through a global pandemic – and there is room to indulge in it.

We hope you enjoy the first edition of our reinvented approach to local news. Use these pages to create a deeper connection with the San Francisco that you know and love – a complex city worth scrutinizing but also worth celebrating.

Carly Schwartz is the editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Examiner.

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