While the Bay Guardian, The Examiner, the Onion, and SF Weekly may be the widely known and widely available free papers around San Francisco, they are by no means the only free newspapers to pick up and read in the City by the Bay. Other free papers, which are usually weekly or monthly and in the tabloid size format, include the Noe Valley Voice, Bay Times San Francisco, Marina Times, San Francisco Bay View, The Potrero View, and the Bay Area Reporter (aka BAR). There are numerous other free papers found around San Francisco but I just want to take a quick overview of these ones and the aforementioned Bay Guardian, Onion, Examiner, and SF Weekly. Please add in COMMENTS below any omissions that you see.
The daily San Francisco Examiner (which has gone through a lot of changes over the years) is currently in a tabloid size format and is free. While it gets critiqued for running stories from other papers and wire-services, overall it's not such a bad read on the bus or train, as it offers a decent blend of local and national news (usually accompanied by clever, eye-catching headlines) with a pretty decent San Francisco entertainment guide, often doing stories on SF events not covered by the Guardian or the Weekly. Meanwhile the always fun to-read Onion, the parody newspaper that publishes in ten US cities, including SF, offers a really good local entertainment listing in its (straight-faced & serious) A.V. Club section.
The SF Weekly, while owned by New Times (the Clear Channel of the 'alternative weeklies'), is not all bad and offers some strong investigative pieces on local politics in addition to some excellent music reviews/interviews (especially local San Francisco/Bay Area artists). But like many of the New Times imprints, the Weekly is often given to smart-ass editorializing that seems more geared to getting a reaction than making a concrete point. That aside, it is a good read overall with good entertainment listings. Additionally, their website is really good with up to the minute reports on news items that eclipse the paper's Wednesday street date. For example after MF Doom's pathetic 12 minutes (possibly lip-synced) show at San Francisco's Independent club last Wednesday night that had concert goers demanding refunds, the SF Weekly online version the next day around noon, based on an email from a reader, opened a discussion group about MF Doom's SF-diss. Good stuff!