Bay Area online news to replace horrible SFGate?
December 30, 2013 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I no longer want to read the (free) San Francisco Chronicle online because of their vile, racist, homophobic comment section. I try incredibly hard not to read the comments, but it's impossible, and what I'd really like to do is no longer reward SFGate with clicks.

I've tried the Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury, but haven't really been able to like them. If you do, maybe let me know how you've been able to get beyond the bland and ugly layouts and actually get local news. I'm not interested in video. I like local news, good world news (but I can get that from the Guardian), but am not amenable to the same old aggregate click-bait sites that so many papers have online. Any other options or suggestions are helpful. I live in Oakland, if that's important. If you pay for the Chronicle and that's better than SFGate, let me know.
posted by oneirodynia to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This may be a tangential fix, so I'll throw it out there. Since it is comments you are having trouble with, there are plug ins for different browsers, Chrome and Firefox most notably.
That way if you like the content in general of the SFC, but it is purely the 3rd party comments that cause the majority of grief you may have a way forwards there.
posted by edgeways at 9:54 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, I installed a plugin called "Shut Up" in Chrome and now I am blissfully comment free (present company excluded). After installation, if you want to see the comments on a site, you just press a speech bubble button in the upper right corner of the chrome window. (Each subdomain of a site must be toggled separately:,, etc.)
posted by ocherdraco at 10:02 AM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

i look at sfgate every day because i used to live there. on an antique machine connected to msn's 56k, the comments are still loading by the time i'm off to the next article. if you really need to, you can downgrade the speed and performance of your machine by enrolling it in a distributed computing project such as gimps (the great internet mersenne prime search, available at

earth is a vile, racist, homophobic planet, and all newspapers reflect this fact more or less. this isn't sfgate's fault. unpleasant comment sections are merely a useful symptom to remind you of the underlying disease, lest you forget, just like sneezing and sniffling.
posted by bruce at 10:04 AM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Vile comments aren't unique to that one site, they're an Internet issue. Why not read newspapers as they're intended to be read: by simply buying a newspaper?
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:20 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

earth is a vile, racist, homophobic planet, and all newspapers reflect this fact more or less. this isn't sfgate's fault.

To back the OP a bit, I think it's probably a good idea to let newspapers know that having a wide open comment section isn't necessarily a virtue in a publication, and to vote by going elsewhere, if needed. I've stopped reading certain sites not because I can't handle the comments, but because the fact that they leave them poorly moderated suggests something to me about the quality of the publication itself. It smacks of a lack of sophistication and refinement, or even technical savvy, and it can be a big turnoff. It's like having neon orange as an ink color. I know that neon orange is out there in the real world, and it perhaps doesn't change the propositional content of the article, but I'm really going to second guess your judgment in allowing for it in the first place.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:20 AM on December 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

I can't guarantee you won't see idiots in the comments here sometimes, but have you tried the SF Appeal or their news feed, Bay City News?

The Chron went through a stage of having a paywall earlier this year, but that seems to have failed. You might want to try the other Chron site, It's easier on the eye, and it looks like a lot of the comment trolls from SFGate are absent because they haven't figured out where it is yet.
posted by vickyverky at 10:50 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

To clarify: I'm not a sheltered shrinking violet- I don't want to read those comments because I jump in and start fighting, and I have better things to do than get pissed off at stupid trolls. Just because people suck doesn't mean I need a regular reminder at the end of every story about a black or LGBT person I read. SFGate has gotten far worse since they switched to Viafoura to manage their comments: they used to have a downvote function, and the default page showed the top three "most popular" comments, so generally the worst stuff was not up in my grill because as many sensible people would downvote stuff as hateful people would upvote. That's changed with the horrible Viafoura, and the flagging option doesn't do anything as far as I can tell.

Thank you to people who have given useful suggestions- I put Disqus in AdBlock so I don't see comment sections run by them (or have to wait unbearably long times for those pages to load), so the Chrome plugin seems like something I might use. And thank you vickyverky for the other options, I will check those out. It seems the SFChronicle site is still paywalled, however.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:11 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, I was going to suggest paying for The articles seem good. Maybe someone with access can comment on the comments?

For local news, I also like,, and Twitter.
posted by salvia at 11:30 AM on December 30, 2013

I use Feedly with the feed. It's pretty basic, but it has long summaries of news articles, so it works for me.
posted by duckus at 4:00 PM on December 30, 2013

In my opinion, the Mercury News is a pretty solid paper. The website is ugly but the content is solid in the way that the old paper Chron used to be solid: politically regressive sure, yet provides information on local current events in a way that demonstrates basic literacy skills.

I also like Oakland Local and Oakland North.

I love Crosscurrents but that's a radio show/podcast.

CIR isn't Bay Area specific, but it is kind of Bay Area centric - it came out of the Bay Citizen project.

The East Bay Express has had many an up and down, but they still write good, solid features about East Bay issues.

Asian Week is pretty good, the SF Bay View and the Bay Times have both gone downhill in terms of local news coverage but are still worth looking at occasionally. Streetsblog SF is good too.

I guess I get my Bay Area news by patchworking from lots of different sources. I'm looking forward to hearing other suggestions here!
posted by latkes at 6:51 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could give KQED online a try. They do allow comments but from what I have seen they do not approach SFGate levels of awful.
posted by imalaowai at 9:20 PM on December 30, 2013

Do you have nearby boxes where you can pick up paper copies of SF Weekly or the Bay Guardian? Don't know much about their websites but there are usually one or two well-written stories about SF in the Guardian each week.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 9:42 AM on December 31, 2013

I like SF Appeal. I read it daily, along with the Guardian and Weekly. But they also have toxic comment sections, so beware.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:27 PM on December 31, 2013

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