USC Alum Takes Over as Managing Editor of SF Weekly

Have you ever responded to a Mediabistro or Journalism Jobs want ad and then forgotten about it? Brandon Reynolds did just that. Lucky for him, the media outlet at the other end stayed on top of things and as a result, Reynolds is the new managing editor of SF Weekly. He started a week ago.

“I just moved into a nice place that was built the year I was born (1978), has a wet bar, and overlooks the bay and Candlestick Park,” Reynolds tells FishbowlLA. “I call it The Chalet. I’ve loved this city since I first visited 15 years ago, and always had a feeling I’d live here someday. When editor Tom [Walsh] called about the job, it made all kinds of sense.”

The story of how this 34-year-old San Antonio native found his to way to those choice San Francisco digs is fascinating. After earning a B.A. from Southwestern University in 2000, Reynolds worked in Austin as a marketing rep for Miller and Smirnoff Ice. His father and stepmother were living in Richmond, Virginia at the time; when she was diagnosed with cancer, he moved to the east coast to help take care of her.

“After she died, my dad moved back to Texas and I stayed,” Reynolds recalls. “I worked at Home Depot for a while, and submitted a short story to Style Weekly for its first fiction contest around 2003-04. I won third place and got to know some of the editors, so when a job came up answering phones and doing calendar entry, I jumped at it.”

“I also started a monthly gardening column for their shelter publication,” he adds. “Then the Calendar editor quit and I absorbed his job, and the Arts & Culture editor moved on, so I got hers.”

Reynolds added three years of freelancing from 2009 to 2012 and more critically, returned to school as an Annenberg Fellow to earn a Master’s in Specialized Journalism from USC. He also won a USC Libraries creative writing competition and now finds himself managing alt-weekly coverage of one of America’s most vibrant cities.

“I was in the one-year Specialized Journalism program from 2009 to 2010, but diddled around with my thesis until September 2011,” Reynolds confesses. “So technically, December 2011 is when I graduated from USC Annenberg.”

KC Cole was my mentor there,” he continues. “I worked on science pieces for two classes with her. And for Dan Birman, I did a short documentary with a friend about the 2009 LA County fires.”

When asked about the possibility of SF Weekly going Web only, Reynolds replies that this is premature doomsday thinking. “Never underestimate the power of free stuff,” he cautions. “I think as long as there’s a generation that reads things printed in the analog world, weeklies will do fine. They’ll have a foot on street corners through the print version while expanding into whatever virtual space evolves out of the pressures of human and business interest.”

“I think of the print edition as a kind of anchor in the city,” suggests Reynolds. “You can be very choosy about what apps you select, you can build and insulate your online world however you want, but every now and then a newspaper box will jump out at you and present you with a new perspective or two.”

Reynolds replaces Alan Scherstuhl, who was promoted to the position of film editor at parent company Village Voice Media. Scherstuhl will be based in New York.

[Photo of Reynolds courtesy USC Annenberg]