Goodbye vän

Photographer Bea Ahbeck is proof that you need not be tall to be Swedish nor have dark hair to be smart. She’s one short, blond, smart Swedish photographer.

Unfortunately for us at The Argus, however, The Tiniest Viking is the latest to get thrown overboard in the shipwreck that is the news business.

Her layoff was made official Friday.

It’s a big loss. Bea’s tough as nails: both at the Argus poker table, where she finished many a close seconds, and out in the field.

We worked Sundays together in 2006. I remember one time she climbed to the edge of a cliff to get the best possible picture of a hang glider who had crashed below.

That autumn was Stakeout Sunday. Nearly every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Fremont cops were doing some kind of SWAT operation usually with a crazy person trapped inside of a house. We’d sneak around barriers and peak over fences looking for better views and people to talk to, often during NY Giants games that I was missing.

Here are some of the photos that will be missing from the paper now that she’s gone.

There’s the artistic shots, like this during a project in Africa:

The American classic shots:

The portraits:

The underwater:

The beautiful:

And, the truly scary:

We also won’t have her web productions, including this really funny one about peacocks in Union City.

But Bea’s still around. She actually lives in Fremont, and, in case you’re in the market, I hear she’s a super great wedding photographer.

As for the Argus, we still have an excellent photographer based out of Fremont, and others have come down to help out when he’s not around. And, if they can’t make it down here, fear not, I have a Cannon four megapixel sharpshooter, and I’m not afraid to use it.

Check out this self-portrait. The future of newspapers is at hand:

Matt Artz


  1. She will indeed be missed. She shot a photo of a sweet couple down on their luck for I profile I did last Christmas. The lighting in their cramped little motel room was incredibly dim. She made them look wonderful, glowing and full of saddened hope. That photo MADE that article, my words happen to be next to it. Best of luck Bea.

  2. I had the opportunity of meeting Bea in 2006. We had arranged to meet at Central Park for a photo shoot. I was immediately impressed by the sight of this petite woman approaching with a couple of heavy cameras, with telephoto lenses, slung around her neck and wearing high heels! She was on her way to her next assignment, covering the state-of-the-city luncheon and had to dress up. The shoes didn’t stop her for moving adeptly on the boat dock for the right shot.
    They may take the job away, but they can’t take the talent. Keep shooting Bea.

  3. It is sad to see the Argus lose such good talent.
    The Argus started out as a shopper and it looks like it may revert to its former roots.
    They say that the computer “online world” has caused the demise of newspapers.
    Why has the Argus or Media News, gotten with it, on the online world.
    This blog is good, but there is so much more they could do.
    Perhaps the people in charge of media News are to much old school, old farts which change is not in there vocabulary.
    Is the CEO named T. Rex.. (Tyrannosaurus Rex)

  4. I don’t think the demise of the newspaper industry is due solely to the internet. It’s partly due to the overwhelming liberal bias that permeates the agenda of newspaper articles published, as well as to the writing in those stories. It was noticeably bad a decade ago, now it has become so extremely one-sided that there is little point in subscribing for the purpose of hearing real news. That’s why I abandoned my newspaper subscriptions and use the internet. The fact that I heard about John Edwards affair and illegitimate baby from online papers from Ireland, Thailand, and Israel months before it got into papers or the news here is just one example of the reason that layoffs like this lady photographer will continue. Half the country has completely lost faith in the “news” media.

  5. Lars, Instant gratification is the main reason newspapers are failing. Who wants to read about it after the fact?

    Rupert Murdoch and his crew haven’t helped. It is now widely understood that the Bush Administration used their right-wing media sources to plant the seeds of the Iraq War stories they wished to be picked up by so called national media, who were too lazy and too scared not to run with it. Corporate media giants control the content and pay the bills.

    I do agree that if I want all the news I must tune in to international sources. Much of our national media makes like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

  6. I always could identify photographs by Bea when I saw them. She has a great eye and an amazing capacity to capture the image, whether it is a fire in Niles, geese taking off from Lake Elizabeth, or the perfect shot of an individual caught up in a news event. I, for one, will miss her contributions to the local paper. I consider this one more step down for all of us involved in the local scene

    We ought not get into the liberal/conservative argument, but rather what we need from a local newspaper. It looks to me, as they compress the staff, fail to get involved in local elections, import stories and columns from other MediaNews outlets, and keep raising the price, we are on our way to a consolidation of all of the chain’s newspapers.

    How much of our local news will we find squeezed in among stories about Oakland, San Jose, and San Mateo? But, there would be enough reporters for Matt to have his poker game.

  7. The real death of papers comes from two sides, free online advertising, especially the classifieds at craigslist, and free content, especially from the wire services.

    The Argus, like all local papers, can only uniquely offer a few local and regional articles and a local opinion section. That content should be well guarded, not given away online. ANG must be paralyzed since they’ve done nothing to get out of this death spiral.

  8. Since MediaNews controls so many of the local papers now, one looks just like the next. Friends live in Danville and a majority of the content of their paper, the Contra Costa Times, is identical to The Argus.
    As far as Local content in The Argus goes, which happens to be page 3 in the first section, sometimes has a half-page ad on it. Sad.

  9. People read their news on the internet and the Argus’ website sucks. I think that pretty much sums it up.

  10. Argus’ website – I’m not sure who maintains the site, but ‘maintain’ may be a poor choice of words. If you follow this link (http://www.insidebayarea.com/argus) on InsideBayArea to the Argus home page you will find this story at the bottom. I tried doing a Reload Page thinking I had cached an old link.

    Fremont may not be able to afford A’s
    Chris De Benedetti
    FREMONT — When the Giants play home games at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, 18 police officers reportedly are stationed at the ballpark for security, and the number jumps to 24 when the rival Dodgers are in town. During a normal midday shift in Fremont, in contrast, 16 officers at most are deployed throughout the city.

  11. What a loss for Fremont. Bea took my wife’s picture before she embarked on a 3 day cancer walk. We also saw her at many many cold windy high school soccer games. She has captured more Fremont history than most and will be missed.

    Best of luck and God Bless

  12. I agree with many of the sentiments expressed about why popular print news media are struggling.

    At the same time, I see a weekly periodical like the Tri City Voice doing reasonably well at raising revenue from advertising and maintaining a loyal readership.

    There is a unique combination of local interest and a critical op-ed that isn’t manipulated by economic or popular political factions that seems to work.

  13. The Voice doesn’t even try to be a newspaper. It’s just a different beast; a very fluffy beast.

  14. The Voice is fluff but it gets out in stacks (and it’s independent).

    I think there’s two thing hurting the MediaNews Group papers in the Bay Area: One, duplicity in content and opinion, and a weak interest in the papers nationally- a fact that will doom their web presence.

    There is an obscene amount of overlap between the insidebayarea family, from local news, opinion, letters to the editor and sports. Additionally, every paper in the Bay Area endorses the same candidates and issue positions. A reader must ask, what makes your paper so special that I should subscribe?

    Nationally, most people don’t care about Fremont news, and the AP stories are available everywhere. Since the Medianews group can’t have a major internet presence with the Argus, the physical paper is going to get more and more local -just like the Voice.

    What’s left on the net is blogs like this one serving local interest, and the few major regional newspapers with a robust online presence serving an entire physical and political region (as the Chronicle serves Norcal). The physical newspaper will survive, but it will be free and it will serve a very local market.

    I think the Merc/Knight Ridder realized this when they bought the free local dailies on the peninsula a few years ago (PA daily News, etc). Before the purchase, the daily papers were eating into the Merc’s ad revenue big time. After the purchase they forced ad packages on advertisers where they were required to advertise in the Merc and the local daily, sustaining the merc’s national presence.

    I’m not sure how this is working out since the McClatchy/Medianews buyout. But, since the PA Daily is going through editors faster than Bartlett goes through scripture, I’d guess not well.

  15. Just for grins I did a search on Google for Newspaper, Newspapers, Blog and Blogs. The results:

    Newspaper – 203 million
    Newspapers – 101 million
    Blog – 3.56 billion
    Blogs – 834 million

    Gotta’ go catch up on my blog reviews…

  16. I can’t find the story, but a recent article claimed the following order of popularity for where we get our news:

    Internet > Television > Radio > bumper stickers > newspapers.

  17. Todd R. Brown –

    “Critical” as involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc

    “Op-Ed” as a newspaper page devoted to signed articles by commentators, essayists, humorists, etc., of varying viewpoints

  18. Here’s a clipping from Maureen Dowd’s Sunday column in the N.Y.Times regarding MediaNews Group’s California newspapers….”most preproduction work for MediaNews’ papers in California is already outsourced to India, cutting costs by 65 percent,…”

    So Matt Artz, where are you, really?

  19. Thanks for bringing up that op-ed, Doug. I’ve been in New York most of this week, so I got to read it the old fashioned way. That comment made its way around the newsrooms back west a couple of months ago. It was the most notable thing Singleton said since he asked Barak Obama about how he might deal with “Obama bin Laden.”

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