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“I Just Published My First—and Last—Article in The Bold Italic”

A fond farewell.

 

The email hit my inbox this morning. Its blunt title: "Bold Italic Ceasing Operations." I don’t have to actually open the thing to know that the plug has been pulled, but it still doesn't seem possible.

I only had one piece run by The Bold Italic. It was titled, “Even If You Were Born Here, You Missed the Real San Francisco

They paid me $75 for the San Francisco piece—enough for 18 pieces of toast at The Mill—or about a half a month’s supply if you eat your toast in pairs like I do. But it wasn’t the amount of bread (pun utterly intended) that mattered here. It was getting paid to write at all. For a brief moment there in March 2015 after my piece ran, my crazy thoughts on the city had value. I dared to be optimistic. After years of volunteering my prose through blogging, I could now speculate that money was flowing back into writing; that freelancing had turned the corner, and was viable again. (Alas, for now it's back to unpaid blogging).

It was only four days ago that I pitched managing editor Jeremy Lybarger my story on the spat between Incredibly Strange Wrestling and the Church of Scientology during the 2001 Van's Warped Tour. Lybarger rejected it, but was nothing but encouraging in doing so. "Please keep sending and pitching stuff," he wrote. He also said he was adding my name to the freelance pool so I'd get notification of stories they were looking for, and again, I felt like I'd be writing for Bold Italic for at least a few more months.

That was Friday, just days before today's announcement. Some exec at Gannett, the aging newspaper giant that launched the site, had already decided that there wasn’t going to be the need for any kind of a freelance pool at all. What a shame. Some really good writing was emerging out of Bold Italic lately (Like this and this). Lybarger and crew managed to thread the needle between supporting businesses (the site’s mandate on its about us page), and producing hard-hitting pieces about the state of the city, a balancing act that goes back to the beginning of news gathering itself. Those efforts won't continue, at least in that form.

So, this morning, Gannett pulled the plug on Bold Italic, making it like California’s water supply: We can still see it, but we all know it’ll be gone soon.

 

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