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The Public Press Blog

KQED interviews Public Press project director

In the wake of Hearst Corp.'s announcement Tuesday that it will impose extreme budget cuts at the San Francisco Chronicle and possibly sell or shutter the paper, KQED's Kelly Wilkinson interviewed Public Press Project Director Michael Stoll about developing models for sustainable news organizations.

The interview first aired on Feb. 25, 2009. You can listen to it here:


Forum focuses on 'Crisis at the Chronicle'

KQED's Forum devoted an hour to discussing the possibility that San Francisco could lose its only major daily newspaper. Host Michael Krasny led a conversation with Carl Hall, local representative of the California Media Workers Guild; Louis Freedberg, director of the California Media Collaborative; and Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The show first aired on Feb. 26, 2009. You can listen to it here:

San Francisco Chronicle could close. What will fill the void?

The announcement by the Hearst Corp. that it is considering closing the San Francisco Chronicle is a defining moment for startup local journalism projects like The Public Press.

Volunteers, we need you now!

Thank you to everyone who has already contributed time, energy and inspiration to The Public Press, and to those who have made recent and renewed offers to volunteer as we prepare to launch our local newsroom. With News Editor Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig directing editorial staff, we're ready to make volunteer job assignments.

Please take a few minutes to fill out this volunteer job survey. You will have an opportunity to choose from a list of specific job titles. What kind of help do we need? All kinds. We're looking for journalists as well as volunteers with diverse skills to help in the newsroom and with general operations. After you submit your responses, you will hear from Michelle or one of our operations team leaders to confirm your availability and job assignments.

If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Lila LaHood at lila [at]

See you in the newsroom!

Tech Tools Training at the Knight Digital Media Center

Re-posted from The Next Newsroom Project:

This week I'm at the Technology Tools Training for Journalists Workshop the Knight Digital Media Center.

Lucky for me, I live just down the street in Oakland. But there's a great group of journalists traveling from across the country to take part in the event.

Fitzhugh-Craig Joins The Public Press as News Editor

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, the former city editor of the Oakland Tribune, is joining The Public Press as news editor.

As the project's first editorial appointment, Fitzhugh-Craig will coordinate a growing pool of volunteer and freelance journalists who have converged to bring important and under-covered news stories to broad audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area. 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.

Force break: Why I still have hope for the crumbling news industry

I could see the temblors everywhere. Bankruptcies, layoffs and a poisonous economy have thinned newspapers to the core, both in physical size and in substance. But I still felt reasonably insulated, since my little hometown newspaper dodged the bullet every time a new round of company-wide layoffs slashed through newsrooms. That's the newspaper I used to work for full-time, and I still pop in now and again on a per-needed basis.

Up until now, I felt like I would always have a role to play there, like they would always want -- and even need -- me, and there would usually be some way to make it happen during my breaks from school and from my Public Press internship. 

But Jan. 14 was the first day I felt everything crack.

Seeking solutions to ailing media business

The San Francisco Bay Guardian printed an interesting piece this week on the need to encourage more independent local voices. The article, which cites The Public Press as a hopeful example of media innovation, points to the source of the crisis in journalism: economic sustainability. While there's no shortage of good coverage ideas, there are few tested business models that can fill the void left by the contraction of traditional publishing enterprises.

The piece didn't go into detail to present The Public Press' provisional (i.e., untested) answer: a membership model blending aspects of local public broadcasters and nonprofit magazines such as Consumer Reports. We hope to roll out a membership structure in a year or so.

The piece cites as another local experiment. We expect to be working closely with that project to get Public Press stories funded by the public on a case-by-case basis.

Publishers: Neighborhood papers write vital social history

A group of longtime publishers gathered in San Francisco recently to discuss the role of neighborhood newspapers in an age of newspapers' decline. When asked what defined a neighborhood paper, the publishers characterized their publications not just by geographic boundaries, but by a sense of historical and social purpose. They agreed that their papers help define the city's eclectic neighborhoods in a way that larger papers cannot.

Meeting at the Mission's CounterPulse theater on Dec. 10, the publishers of El Tecolote, The New Bernal Journal, The New Fillmore, and The Potrero View swapped stories of struggle, community and history. They made it clear that this city is cobbled together with distinct neighborhoods, and to read the neighborhood papers is to look through a San Francisco kaleidoscope.


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