by Joe Siegel
San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter (BAR) has a new owner, Michael Yamashita.
Yamashita has been the publisher of the paper since 2013. He also served as the paper’s general manager. He purchased the paper after acquiring shares from two former investors.
The announcement was made on December 18. Yamashita is now the first gay Asian-American publisher and owner of an LGBT newspaper.
Yamashita will take over BAR Media Inc., which was formed four years ago in a restructuring of the
paper's ownership. At the time, the Bob Ross Foundation had a 20 percent stake, Yamashita had 31 percent, and Todd Vogt and Patrick Brown had 49 percent collectively. Vogt and Brown were previously with San Francisco Media Co., publishers of the San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly, and the shuttered San Francisco Bay Guardian.
“It seemed like a natural transition,” Yamashita said. “I started as an assistant editor in 1989, became the general manager in 1995, and became the third publisher when we restructured the corporation in 2013.”
BAR News Editor Cynthia Laird said that she is “incredibly glad that Mike was able to purchase the paper. The Bay Area Reporter remains LGBT-owned – and locally owned – and in this time of upheaval in the media industry, that is a good thing.”
Laird does not anticipate any changes to content or staffing. “We will continue to focus on our original content,” Laird said. “We are looking forward to a busy year, with an unexpected mayor’s race in San Francisco in June, and we will continue to provide a vital source of news, arts, and nightlife coverage for our readers.”
Added Yamashita: “Readers and contributors are relieved that the paper will remain LGBT and locally owned, and reassured that the BAR will remain a community resource. Other LGBT publishers are relieved as well, and gave me much advice and encouragement during the process. It confirms we are stronger when we’re connected to our communities rather than run by investors or faceless, remote corporations.”
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