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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bay Citizen On The Rocks

The San Francisco Business Times reports on the possible folding of a invaluable source of independent Emeryville news. The Bay Citizen has focused on our town more than any newspaper in the modern era.  It's demise would be a loss for all.

Reprinted from the SF Business Times:

What a short, strange trip it's been

The Bay Citizen's short, strange saga in nonprofit news could be coming to an end

Date: Tuesday, February 7, 2012, 12:11pm PST

Chris Rauber
Reporter - San Francisco Business Times
Email  | Twitter
Bay Citizen, we barely knew ye.
The Bay Citizen, less than two years old as a functioning news organization, has lost its founding editor, founding CEO, chief philanthropist and interim editor in the last few months. Soon, it could lose its independence.
Not quite what the doctor ordered in early 2009, when billionaire Warren Hellman and other Bay Area bigwigs were casting about for a way to salvage the badly listing -- at the time -- San Francisco Chronicle.
That salvage operation morphed into something quite different, a nonprofit news organization intended to play a major role in reinventing journalism in the Bay Area and beyond.
Now, 21st century journalism can use all the help it can get, but it was never quite clear how an enterprise soheavily dependent on the largesse of a single individual -- the late Warren Hellman -- could alter the Bay Area journalistic landscape for the better.
And The Bay Citizen, unfortunately, seems to have lived down to those fears, amid reports on its own site that it may be “absorbed by an older but similar nonprofit news organization,” the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting. (The Wall Street Journal, however, scooped it on parts of its own story.)
Things got off to an odd start, with the young enterprise and would-be partner KQED breaking things off very quickly in early 2010. And the Bay Citizen undermined much of its initial credibility by hiring a CEO with no direct journalistic experience or aptitude, Lisa Frazier, and an out-of-town editor, Jonathan Weber, both at exorbitant and -- many thought -- scandalous salaries, especially for a tiny and quite experimental nonprofit with a lot to prove and not much to show for itself.
The Bay Citizen also joined forces with the University of California at Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism, a program perhaps best known over the last decade or so for its inability to recruit and keep a dean. I discovered the odd nature of the connection personally at the time, when no one at the journalism school would answer phone calls or emails asking for comment on its relationship with the new nonprofit -- an odd stance for a nationally known journalism program.
The organization also formed an equally odd partnership with the New York Times. One would have thought that a long-term agreement to produce San Francisco Bay Area stories for perhaps the most influential newspaper in the nation would have been the salvation of the young Bay Citizen. But instead it served up a long series of “evergreen” news stories of dubious news value to the Times, most of them either old news to Bay Area residents or stories of little particular interest.
Read the rest of the story by clicking HERE.

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