The East Bay Express has joined colleagues in the region's alternative weekly press to form a five-newspaper group that will circulate throughout seven counties in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Anchored by the Metro Silicon Valley weekly, the group also includes Santa Cruz's Good Times, the North Bay Bohemian and the Pacific Sun, the nation's longest publishing alt weekly.
"The East Bay Express has for four decades been a bastion of great writing, distinguished investigative journalism and important cultural coverage," Metro founder and CEO Dan Pulcrano said. "It fits perfectly with our strengths and mission to serve local communities in the greater Bay Area."
Metro Silicon Valley has for three years in a row won the state's top awards amongst weeklies for both Investigative Reporting and Arts & Entertainment Coverage. "We believe this combination offers readers the benefits that come with greater depth of editorial resources while providing local businesses unprecedented access to markets in local publications with strong reader loyalty," Pulcrano said.
In recent years, free-circulation publications such as Metro Silicon Valley and the Express have fared better than paid circulation daily newspapers that were more heavily dependent on classified advertising and other shrinking categories. However, the coronavirus outbreak has hit free weeklies hard, as public health officials have ordered the cancellation of mass events and the closure of nightclubs, dining establishments and retailers in non-essential industries.
"These are obviously extraordinary times for independent publishers," outgoing East Bay Express editor and publisher Stephen Buel said. "That Metro remains enthusiastic about our industry even amidst the unprecedented chaos of this moment in time shows the depth of Dan's commitment to local businesses and independent journalism. The Express could not be in better hands."
The East Bay Express began publishing in October 1978, inspired by the success of the Chicago Reader and San Diego Reader. Co-founder John Raeside, who established a solid reputation with long-form journalism and a stable of freewheeling critics, sold the publication in 2001 to the national chain New Times Media. Buel joined the paper that year.
In 2006, New Times merged with Village Voice Media and the following year, Buel and a group of investors purchased the Express, returning it to local ownership. In 2017, Buel's Telegraph Media, which also published Oakland and Alameda magazines, bought out the remaining investors.
During Alameda County's shelter-in-place order, the Express continues to publish on its regular schedule, with content primarily focused on the coronavirus outbreak, including news about the health crisis and coverage of food and entertainment options available during the shelter-in-place order. Buel continues as a contractor and editor during the transition.
Over the past six years, Metro has expanded its portfolio of properties to include 17 regularly published titles, which also include traditional home-delivered broadsheets — among them the Gilroy Dispatch, Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Watsonville Pajaronian, all of which date back to the 1800s, as well as four newspapers in the Salinas Valley. The company also publishes specialty publications such as the wine country lifestyle magazine Bohème, the Cannabis Chronicle, the Dilated Pupil student guide and several visitors' guides.
The newspapers are distributed in the California counties of Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey. In addition to the printed editions, the company operates a large portfolio of digital media products, including electronic editions, websites and email newsletters, and offers web development, mobile SEO and digital marketing services.
The new group will be known simply as "Weeklys" and a new portal is under construction at Weeklys.com.