Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

NYTimes Picks News Provider For SF Bay Area Edition With No Track Record

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 3, 2010

This is bizarre. The Bay Citizen, a news organization funded by billionaire Warren Hellman, which has no track record because it just started publishing one week ago, will start to provide news to the New York Times for its San Francisco/Bay Area edition.

The Bay Citizen will be competing against local journalists for prime spots in the local edition of the New York Times.

"The mission of The Bay Citizen is to enhance civic and community news coverage in the Bay Area, stimulate innovation in journalism, and foster civic engagement."

How this helps that mission is puzzling.

Why is this organization better than local news organizations that already have a track record? There are plenty of local SF and Bay Area news organizations already in existence, plus plenty of freelance journalists, already working on "civic and community news coverage," already fostering "civic engagement."

Why is Mr Hellman's millions being used to compete against many local newspapers, many serving local ethnic communities? How is this "saving" journalism? What do we get that we don't already have?

Bay Area Citizen pays its publisher a salary of $400K a year, and its Editor, Jonathan Weber won't reveal his salary, but I would guess it is at least $300K.

The Bay Citizen, a non profit, is also seeking donations from people to help fund its news organization. Clearly, $5 million from Mr Hellman is not enough, especially when the bulk goes on just two people's salaries. Community journalism my foot, this is a joke.

We need a true community journalism startup that could become a blueprint for other communities. Highly paid publishers and editors is part of what is wrong with the current model for local newspapers.

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Please see:

Is the Future Of News Dependent On The Generosity Of Billionaire Philanthropists?

No Future For Philanthropic News - The Math Doesn't Add Up


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