The Public Press Blog

This week's buzz on nonprofit local news

I got about a dozen e-mails within hours of the publication of a great story on the front page of The New York Times on Tuesday, "Web Sites That Dig for News Rise as Watchdogs." Reporter Richard Pérez Peña highlighted our friends at Voice of San Diego, and examined other projects in Minneapolis, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and New Haven, Conn. These are all promising developments, even if most of them are dependent on philanthropic aid and chronically under-funded so far. This is just a piece of what we hope to accomplish for San Francisco.

Join us: Dec. 4 fundraiser for noncommercial journalism in Bay Area

Help bring real news back to the San Francisco Bay Area and meet area journalists at a fundraiser/mixer Dec. 4 that is sure to get you excited about the news again.

Spot.us goes live

Spot.us is going live today, Nov. 10, and it could be the wave of the future as far as new journalism goes. It uses "crowdfunding" to collect small donations from large numbers of people to support stories you might not see anywhere else.

The 'truthiness' is out there; many assume bias in media

The "Truthiness" election-ad fact-check project we've been publishing along with Newsdesk.org and Spot.Us is almost done, but suspicion from the public that anyone can remain dispassionate when it comes to politics definitely remains.

That sets a high hurdle for a startup journalism project trying to break into  coverage of San Francisco in a significant way.

Replacing Old Media

Newsrooms throughout the country continue to lay off workers, in hope of saving money and trying to figure out how to reinvent themselves as the Internet takes their advertisers and readers. The Christian Science Monitor is ceasing print publication and will be online only and is laying off staff, the New York Times reported today.

We did it!!! SF election fact-checking!!!

Dear friends,

David Cohn here from Spot.us.

I am beside myself and ecstatic to let you know that we have successfully fundraised $2,500 that will be used to hire reporters who will fact-check the political advertisements for the upcoming SF election. WE DID IT!!!!

House cleaning: The content produced will most likely run at Newsdesk.org, Public-Press.org and blog.spot.us.

Ad slump batters papers, again

Our colleague Tom Murphy, over at RedwoodAge.com, picked up an AP story the other day: "Soft economy speeds newspaper decline, job cuts." McClatchy, owner of the Bees in California, is among the chains leading the cutbacks, with the Sacramento Bee offering buyouts to a majority of its full-time employees. While it's true that, as the AP points out, "Newspaper executives are cutting operating costs even further because advertising revenue has fallen faster than anyone anticipated," there's another element in the mix: Most of these major cutbacks are coming from large newspaper chains, which have borrowed billions from private and public equity markets to finance recent newspaper conglomerations that they claimed would help put the industry back on firm financial footing.

SF pioneers journalism 'crowdfunding' model

Update on the political ad fact-checking project, a Public Press collaboration with Newsdesk.org:

As of Aug. 24 we have raised 89 percent of the $2,500 goal, courtesy of David Cohn's experimental "crowdfunding" tool, Spot.us.

We're already working with two reporters who have started researching ballot initiatives and candidacies on the Nov. 4 election in San Francisco. The goal is to scrutinize claims from all sides of these political contests, research where the money is coming from and hold the partisans to account.

We need 12 more people to donate $25 each to make the project happen. An article in the New York Times Week in Review section this morning that highlighted the project will no doubt help. If you haven't given to the project, please do!

The collaboration with Spot.us is only a piece of the funding puzzle for a startup news organization. Please also consider giving directly to the Public Press (select us from the project dropdown list under "Please direct my contribution to"). Your donation is 100 percent tax-deductible.

Who's a journalist anyway?

San Francisco free-speech poster child Josh Wolf, who was alternately defended and attacked as an "anarchist and activist" for refusing to disgorge to the authorities his video of a protest -- and paid the price by serving 226 days in federal prison in 2006 -- is now a "real" journalist, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

There are many reasons why we still need print journalism

Where else will people find the solid reporting on events near and far that no other outlet creates?

By Leigh Donaldson

Recently, the American Society of Newspaper Editors reported that about 2,400 full-time newspaper-related jobs were lost in 2007, considered the largest annual drop in 30 years. You don't have to be in the journalism business to see this as a troubling trend.

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