Image from Nov. 19, 2018, homepage of San Diego Free Press.

San Diego Free Press will “suspend” posting in December, a letter to donors said Monday night, ending a 6-year reign as the region’s leading progressive website.

“While this announcement may come as shock to some, and we apologize for that, this decision has been a relatively long time in the making,” said an email obtained by Times of San Diego.

The 674-word note was signed by editorial board members Anna Daniels, Rich Kačmar, Annie Lane, Doug Porter, Brent Beltrán, Frank Gormlie and Patty Jones.

A spinoff of OB Rag (run by longtime activist Gormlie), San Diego Free Press says of itself: “We’re not objective, whatever that is. We don’t believe that it is even possible to write about anything without referencing one’s values and worldview. We do, however, try to be honest.”

So the revelation of its planned Dec. 14 suspension was frank as well.

“The Editorial Board originally planned on taking something of a hiatus after the 2016 election, never imagining the Electoral College would elect a racist and a con man to the highest office in the land,” said the letter.

“Instead of our expected reprieve, we kicked things into a higher gear knowing we needed to remain the local platform of the people’s progressive voice. We are thankful you chose to help us to spread that message far and wide.”

The note — with the subject line “Between the Resistance and a hard place — San Diego Free Press looks ahead” — thanked site donors.

“Simply put, without your financial contribution, SDFP would not exist,” the letter said. “You kept the lights on. Your donations went toward server fees, a business license, our domain name, a P.O. Box, Society of Professional Journalist award submissions (of which we won several each year), the promotion of certain posts (such as our voter’s guides) and so much more.”

San Diego Free Press homepage from August 2012. Image via archive.org

Calling itself an all-volunteer organization, the site boasts four daily editors who have posted nearly 9,000 articles from more than 100 volunteer contributors.

“We are fiercely proud of what we have become, and beyond thankful to all of you who helped create this incredibly important historical archive of poetry, cartoons, videos, photography and articles on every subject,” the board said. “Our voter guides and candidate profiles became the go-to resource for progressive voters in San Diego County over the years.”

The board said the site would stay online after Dec. 14.

“We remain open to the idea of a reboot of the SDFP — a 2.0, so to speak — although we don’t yet know what that looks like,” the letter said, noting that funds in hand will keep the site online through December 2019.

“Your continued donations would ensure the preservation of this people’s archive beyond that,” donors were told.

Apparently, a major expense was the cost of entries in local journalism contests — about $800 a year, including banquet expenses.

“We are … committed to submitting entries in the annual Society of Professional Journalists Awards 2019 competition,” the letter said. But: “We do not have those funds. Your continued donations would ensure the well-earned recognition of our volunteer citizen journalists.”

The site posted its news Tuesday morning, and tweeted a photo of its staff.

“We’re going out on a high note,” said the board. “We’ve just had our best two months ever in terms of readership. We have funds in the bank, and — most importantly — all of us on the Editorial Board remain good friends.”

Updated at 10 a.m. Nov. 20, 2018 

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