Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Changes Afoot At San Diego CityBeat

People have been asking me what's going on with the Local's Only/Notes From The Smoking Patio column of late. I'll do my best to explain what I know of the situation, since I have been writing the column since September 2007.

Troy Johnson, who was music editor for CityBeat (and SLAMM before that) for approximately five years, left CityBeat for Riviera magazine in the late summer/early fall. From what he told me, he'd grown tired of the scene, and when the plug was pulled on both of his TV shows (Fox Rox and Outta Left Field) in a span of less than a month, well, Troy needed to be able to pay rent in this town just like the rest of us. He asked me- as a friend and as the outgoing music editor- to take the helm of the Notes From The Smoking Patio. I was both flattered and overwhelmed. Blogging is one thing. Writing for a publication is something different entirely, and I hadn't, at that point, ever considered myself a writer, let alone a journalist. I mean, I really created this site both as a personal outlet and as a way to disseminate information that I thought other local music junkies like myself would want to know but maybe didn't have 4 hours a night to read in MySpace bulletins, Google Alerts, and other blogs.

And so it went; I took over the column, Troy quietly slipped out the back door, and I was left with a lot of freedom. Write 600-1000 words per week, get it in by Monday at noon. It took a few weeks for the paper to hire the new music editor, Nathan Dinsdale, and a few more for him to fully adjust to the paper. In that time, my unemployment came to an end and I was back working a full time day job, sometimes putting in up to 11 hours a day, all the while still trying to maintain my blog, go to shows, and somehow fit in some sleep here and there.

Writing the Locals Only column was really exciting. With bands it gave me a little more credibility than "I'm a blogger" ever did, but it also limited my ability to write about news as I heard it. During November, December and January, band news dries up a bit, and sometimes I'd spend all day Sunday calling and e-mailing bands, scouring MySpace and Google, all to barely hit my 600 word target, emailing it sometime around 4 am and hoping I'd still get enough sleep to be at work by 9 a.m. on Monday. It should be no surprise that I was worn out and beat down, and that my body had a total shutdown last week when I got sick.

Fortunately and unfortunately, the column had been cut a couple times in the last few weeks. While it gave me a break, the absence of the column has stirred rumors, and in some cases downright resentment from people who read the piece regularly. You can see examples by reading A Coat of Red Paint In Hell, Dirtbag's Delight, and now, Catdirtsez. These don't even touch on the number of people who vented to me with a giant "WTF?" when they'd see me out on the smoking patio. My only response and recommendation was that people should express their concern with letters to the editor.

Last week, when I couldn't even pull myself out of bed, I asked if there would be a column this week (1/23/08) since I'd been sick, and was told that there was material to fill the space and I could have a break. I was also told that there were discussions of "the new direction of the column." Until today, I didn't know what that direction was.

As we all know, this is a small town. A couple clicks, a couple e-mails, a couple conversations and news is out there. I received a forwarded e-mail from Scott (CatDirt). Somebody had written a letter to the editor to complain about the lack of the Locals Only (I don't know the person, as they only used their initials) and they received a response from Dave Rolland, the head editor at CityBeat:

We're actually working on a replacement feature that would incorporate some of what Locals Only offers. Beauty, as always, is in the eye of the beholder. Some people like to read about the same local bands every week; others like to read about touring bands coming through town. We've begun to tire of the Locals format. Over the last couple of years, it's come to feel a little too much like public relations for local bands, and we'd like to make better use of the space. Sometimes you have to kill your babies and try something new to keep things fresh. Hopefully, you'll like the new feature.

38 minutes after receiving the forwarded e-mail, I received an e-mail from Nathan Dinsdale, the music editor, who informed me that the editorial staff had come to a consensus about the direction of the column. The column will take a new shape, into something more inclusive, and will be the work of several contributors, to make better use of the space.

So what does that mean for me? Well, I'm not sure exactly. If asked, I would still be honored with contributing to whatever the new column becomes- I cannot speak to how that situation will be handled by CityBeat, the editors, or Kinsee Morlan, who will probably take the reins on the new section.

What I can speak to is this site. I can get back to covering music- the local stuff, the local shows, music news, touring bands coming through town, San Diego related information, random political information, my "things to do" listings, and the occasional post of how cute my niece is, and best of all, I can do it when I hear it and not have to sit on information that I have to 'save' for the column.

Eventually, I'd like to grow this baby (as opposed to killing it). I'm open to contributors (editorials, reviews, photography, and news.) I'm open to a site redesign if somebody has the Internet prowess to make it better. I'm still looking for a logo and have a couple entries but would like to see a few more designs before I make a final decision. But mostly, I'm just gonna keep on doing what I've been doing. If you enjoy this site, spread the word- not just about this site, but all of the blogs that are doing similar things in this town, all linkable on the right side of this page. I guarantee you have friends who want to know what's going on around town and judging by the number of e-mails I get from people who continue to discover my site, I guarantee some of them don't even know what a blog is.

So we're alright. CityBeat is gonna be just fine. I'm gonna be just fine. This site will continue to grow in content and in readership as time goes on. I'm still open to news, press releases, CDs, and if you wanna continue to throw me on your guestlists, that would be cool, too. SD:Dialed In isn't going anywhere. I still chug along with faith in this city that I love.


petro said...

Rosie, thank goodness someone in this town in the nurturing babies business, and not the killing babies business! We love you and everything you do for the music scene!

Anonymous said...

interesting. so shoebang is a writer from boston, which means dinsdale is outsourcing to an east coast writer for local features. that sucks.

Erica Ann Putis said...

True dat, true dat, Petro...

by Mario S. said...

Dave Rolland likes to kill babies, you heard it here first.

Lazy John said...

I don't read CityBeat for the musical coverage anyway. I read it for the political coverage. It sure beats the hell out of the Reader. Keep yer focus on the blog. You're one of the few who is truly a fan of the music you write about. You don't do this for scenester points.

JonnyUps said...

wow, tragic. typical of san diego media to stop covering local music. fox, 91x, city beat, and i'm sure the list goes on.

YOU on the other hand, are not typical san diego media, and i am thankful you will continue doing your thing.

and thanks for sharing this information with grace, instead of hatred. you are essential to the local scene, thanks rosey!

Unknown said...

rosey thank you for having your blog.