Westside Observer Turns 25

This coming January the Westside Observer will celebrate 25 years in print. On Sunday Nov. 6, the owners Mitch and Alice Bull hosted a gathering at Que Syrah wine bar on West Portal Ave.

"It is our way of thanking everyone who contributes to the Westside Observer," said Mitch as he addressed the gathering of about 30 people that evening. He and Alice also own and manage the Castro Courier, another neighborhood newspaper that serves the community's need for local news.

"The Examiner and the Chronicle, I have respect for them," said Mitch. "But the City's mainstream papers are not covering the real news of the local community".

In San Francisco there are at least a dozen or more neighborhood newspapers, often referred to as "hyper-local publications," all of which have been reporting important local and citywide issues that impact residents. While the continued expansion of the internet has presented a challenge for all print media, the local papers endure.

Serving local residents and merchants is the main goal of these papers and the Westside Observer strives to stand out. In the past few years since Mitch and Alice have taken over as publishers, the Westside Observer has improved the design and production quality of the paper. The Westside Observer has transformed from a simple, flat design format, previously called "West of Twin Peaks Observer" with some spot color on the front page, to a full color, eye-catching 20 page issue each month.

Phyllis Sherman established the paper in the 1980's, to give residents a voice and report about local events and concerns not reported in the Chronicle & Examiner. Sherman continues to contribute to the paper with her column "Phyllis' Findings."

Producing a paper every month is a collective effort. With the help of many people like Editor Doug Comstock, the Westside Observer reaches from the West Portal - St. Francis Wood area to the Forest Hill, Parkside and Sunset District.

"I am happy to say that our paper is doing well and not in debt," said Mitch. He is looking forward to publishing "the paper" that residents go to first to get the local news.

Jonathan Farrell is a freelance SF reporter. Feedback: farrell@westsideobserver.com

December 2011