Sep 1, 2022 - News

Exclusive: New local media outlet aims to publish "really weird s**t"

Matt Charnock

Underscore_SF founder and editor-in-chief, Matt Charnock: Photo courtesy of Cut Collective

San Francisco is getting a new online publication dedicated to covering the city's "weird, unconventional spirit," and serving up content "you truly wouldn't see anywhere otherwise," founder and editor-in-chief Matt Charnock told Axios this week.

What's happening: Launching Thursday, Underscore will cover topics ranging from the impact of climate change on the Bay Area to San Francisco's LGBTQ culture. Hyperlocal news, restaurant reviews and personal essays will be included as well.

  • Charnock aims to post around 10 original pieces each week, some he'll write himself and other work will come from contributors, who he hopes to pay “above market rate.”
  • Underscore will also send email newsletters on Wednesdays and Fridays.

What they're saying: "I just want to celebrate voices and give people a place to publish really weird s**t,” Charnock said. "Like weird s**t that’s really good — well researched and well written."

The intrigue: The debut of Underscore_SF comes one day after Charnock announced he was stepping away from his role as editor-in-chief of The Bold Italic, a digital "magazine" founded in 2009 that became a hub for off-beat, zany coverage of the city, especially during the tech boom of the early 2010s.

  • Medium acquired The Bold Italic in 2019, though Charnock, who was not a full-time employee, said that for the past year, he was the only person running its day-to-day operations.
  • Medium CEO Tony Stubblebine told Axios on Wednesday that The Bold Italic will "continue as an outlet," and the company will soon announce "a new plan for its future."

What's next: Charnock said that success for his upstart publication will be to become "a household name" in San Francisco and "financially stable."

  • On the business side, to start, he plans to run ads on his website, and have local companies pay for sponsored content.
  • He also launched an Indiegogo campaign on Thursday to raise funds for Underscore's early contributors.

"As a writer, it's always meant a lot to me when people publish something that I'm really proud of," Charnock said. "I've always wanted to build a media company that provides that for other people."


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