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Spot.us and The Public Press on NPR
Martina Castro, a reporter for the National Public Radio show "Day to Day," produced a recent story exploring the notion that the audience can help fund independent reporting. The piece, "Is Community-Funded Journalism the Answer?" focuses on David Cohn's Spot.Us project, as he asserts that small donations spread over a large group can be immune to manipulation from special interests.
It's an irony not lost on Martina, in my conversations with her for the piece, that NPR is facing such hard times that "Day to Day" is being canceled this spring, along with "News & Notes." Castro has since found part-time employment at Crosscurrents, the pioneering new local news show on KALW-FM covering -- you might have guessed it -- how the recession is affecting Bay Area residents.
Crowd-funding is an interesting and as yet mostly untested thesis, but one that deserves exploring, alongside other ideas about alternative funding sources for journalism. The latest wave of imagining came from David Swensen and Michael Schmidt, two institutional investors who work for Yale University, who proposed, on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, turning The Times into a nonprofit organization with an endowment.
Also a promising line of investigation that deserves a thorough cost-benefit analysis and detailed economic projections. Unfortunately, the opinion piece was too brief to explain what exactly such a $5 billion endowment might pay for. That prompted a wave of attacks from bloggers who pointed out the bailout-size sums that might be necessary to rescue all American newspapers from the marketplace. Nonprofit ownership is a "cop-out," according to New West Network founder Jonathan Weber.
Geoff Dougherty, editor of the Chicago nonprofit local site Chi Town Daily News, blogged that nonprofit news was neither the easy way out nor a sinecure insulated from market forces.
People know nonprofits exist solely to serve the community. They have a sneaking, and these days all-too-accurate, suspicion that their for-profit newspaper would sell the community down the river for the right price.
But nonprofit, for-profit -- all journalism organizations have to have an income if they want to remain professionally produced and thus influential. So it's the revenue source, not the ownership model, that really determines whether high-quality original reporting is possible.
One-stop shopping for news links in San Francisco.
Regional news updates and a lot of lifestyle coverage.
A local version of the national liberal politics website.
News website for KQED.org, focused on the Bay Area and beyond.
Locally focused, short info bits and a lot of opinion.
Insights on Silicon Valley and real estate.
Mostly SF-focused, “progressive” political agenda.
News, lifestyle and snarky writing.
Liberal politics blog run by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.
Photographer/blogger Luke Thomas’ City Hall news-and-opinion site.
Some original reporting and aggregation, with a good bit of culture thrown in.
Plenty of attitude with coverage of MUNI & bikes and links to most of the important stories going on in SF.
S.F. politics and arts scene. Plenty of opinion pieces.
San Francisco news and politics.
Neighborhood news from aspiring journalists.
Promotes good planning and good government in the Bay Area.
SF Bay Times
News and events calendar for the GLBTQ.
Newspaper serving the LGBTQ community.
News website serving the Asian/Pacific Islander American community.
Architecture and some planning coverage.
The Noe Valley Voice
SF Bay View
The Western Edition
Visitacion Valley Grapevine
The Potrero View
Rincon Hill Neighborhood Association blog
A fun blog curating rider experiences on San Francisco's Muni.
"TK" provides his unique perspective on life in San Francisco.
One woman's blog about San Francisco neighborhoods.
Heavy on photos and commentary.
Strong political and neighborhood events listings.
Keeping tabs on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Good site for political gossip.
Political news, analysis and commentary.
California public policy and politics.
Critical Mass blog.
Part of the national livable streets initiative.
A San Francisco cyclist’s blog.
Greg Dewar sounds off on Muni and the Inner Sunset.
Akit’s Complaint Department
Lots of Muni complaints.
SF school board member.
Political blog from the guy whose lawsuit delayed the city’s bike plan.
San Francisco politics.
Writes about politics for Examiner and the San Francisco Business Times. He was previously host of a Comcast talk show,sfunscripted.com.
Former Examiner reporter and current investigator for the SF City Attorney's office.
She’s running for DCCC and Community College Board.
KQED’s foodies blog.
It’s beer and food.
Reader tips for dining, eating and food shopping.
San Francisco restaurant news.
A vegan eating and living guide to the Bay Area.