January 11 brought the sad news that East Bay alternative weekly the East Bay Express, which had been under financial duress for a while, would be laying off its entire editorial staff and greatly reducing operations. The newspaper’s demise as a staffed publication was immediately caused by a lawsuit by the paper’s former sales manager which awarded back overtime pay and legal fees totaling $750,000 or more.
The loss of the local investigative reporting done by the East Bay Express, which almost always led and spurred later coverage by the region’s dailies, is incalculable. In Oakland itself, where the paper’s reporting was the accountability agent for Oakland municipal government for the past decade, and throughout the East Bay.
Oakland Privacy benefitted enormously from the Express’ tough reporting and as a colleague of mine put it; “It’s safe to say that without the Express, Oakland would have a Domain Awareness Center”. And it wouldn’t have a privacy commission, OPD would still be cooperating with ICE, and BART would not have a transparency ordinance. Among many other things.
We can’t thank you enough, Express, specifically former reporters Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham. It’s a sad day for Oakland and for journalism.