Lila LaHood's blog

Issue No. 13 is here!

Front page of San Francisco Public Press Winter 2014 edition, Issue No. 13Special Report: Public School Inequality

Parent fundraising for elementary education in San Francisco public schools has skyrocketed 800 percent in the past 10 years. This largesse has saved classroom programs and teaching positions at schools with strong PTAs. But it has also widened the gap between rich and poor, showing how schools chiefly serving students from low-income families suffered more from state budget cuts.

The Winter 2014 edition of the newspaper, Issue No. 13, is available at these retail outlets ($1) and by mail order ($4).

If you are a current member, your copy should arrive in the mail this week. Become a member today, and we'll send Issue No. 13 plus the next three issues directly to your door.

Watch for these stories, photo essays and infographics from the special report on school fundraising to roll out online through February:

Public Schools, Private Money
Parents ramp up fundraising, widening the rich-poor divide

Albany School District Levels Parent Fundraising Playing Field
Concerned about equity, 3 elementary school PTAs pool money for daytime enrichment

10 Solutions to Inequality in Fundraising

Debate in 2014: Use State Windfall for S.F. Schools to Aid Poorest Students, or Raise Teacher Pay?

Photo Essay: Two PTA Presidents, Two Realities

Infographic: Winning the PTA Funding Game
Some school PTAs add hundreds of dollars per student

Thanks for making our fall drive a success

Thank you for making the San Francisco Public Press fall membership drive a big success! Tremendous thanks to all of our new and renewing members for helping us surpass our goal. Your support means so much to us.  

If you weren't able to join during the fall drive, it's not too late: Become a member today.

Annual Open Board Meeting

Annual Open Board Meeting

Join us this Saturday for our annual open board meeting. Our executive director, publisher and other board members will present reports on current operations and future plans. There will be time for public comment and discussion. We will provide coffee, tea and snacks.

When: 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 3
Where: San Francisco Public Press, 965 Mission St., Suite 220, San Francisco

Please let us know if you will attend:

This meeting is open to the public. We will hold an annual meeting for members in early 2013.

Fall membership drive — join now!

Did you hear that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced at a press conference that he was investigating his department’s low rate of prosecutions for domestic violence?

That was because of reporting in the fall 2012 edition of the Public Press, which found that San Francisco takes just 28 percent of cases to court — the lowest per capita rate in the Bay Area.

In the cacophony of sensational coverage of the San Francisco sheriff to win back his job after being charged with domestic violence, the Public Press went in depth to look at the thousands of other cases — some of which lead to severe and repeated injuries — that never make the headlines.

Team reporting projects like these are what distinguish the Public Press in an era of shrinking resources for local journalism and commercial news operations that no longer have the stomach to do independent research.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your support to do more reporting projects that hold the powerful in our community accountable.

The San Francisco Public Press is small but growing. In August, after an epic, 32-month struggle with the IRS, we earned our independent 501(c)3 charitable status. That means that 100 percent of your tax-deductible donation will go to reporting and infrastructure that keeps our independent, nonpartisan professional journalism voice alive.

Help us celebrate our first membership drive as an independent nonprofit! You can become a basic member for just $35 a year, and get four quarterly editions of the newspaper mailed to you.

And for the two weeks of this fund drive, we’ll also send you a custom Public Press reusable, stuffable grocery tote from Chico Bags. Just in time to deal with San Francisco’s ban on plastic bags at the check-out line!

Of course, we’ll love you even more for a donation of $50 and above, which also gets you a vintage vermillion SF Public Press T-shirt.

Thanks for your support!

Michael Stoll                         Lila LaHood
Executive Director               Publisher                        

IRS Awards 501(c)3 Status to San Francisco Public Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, Sept. 14, 2012

Contact: Michael Stoll, Executive Director — 415-846-3983; Lila LaHood, Publisher — 415-846-5346


IRS Awards 501(c)3 Status to San Francisco Public Press

After 32-month wait, independent ad-free newspaper finally receives charitable status, paving way for several similar nonprofit news startups


SAN FRANCISCO — After more than two and a half years, the IRS has awarded 501(c)3 nonprofit status to the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit, noncommercial local news organization that publishes in-depth public-interest news daily online at and quarterly in a print newspaper.

The ruling allows the Public Press to directly accept tax-deductible donations from individuals, and elevates the organization to the same legal status as NPR, the Associated Press and the Center for Investigative Reporting, among many others. Importantly, it enables the startup news organization to solicit more significant grants from foundations — many of which say they are more comfortable funding 501(c)3’s. Since its founding in 2009, the Public Press has operated as a fiscally sponsored project of Independent Arts & Media, providing vital bridging services as we waited for our final 501(c)3 approval.

The Public Press, described by the Investigative News Network as “the poster child for nonprofit news projects deserving charitable status,” is funded by small grants from about a dozen foundations and more than 200 individual members. While it pays its reporters and photographers, it is largely volunteer-run, and like many magazines and noncommercial radio stations does not accept advertising, in order to maintain editorial independence.

The eighth edition of the newspaper, featuring a team report detailing San Francisco’s inconsistent efforts to battle domestic violence, will be published on Sept. 18.

“We are thrilled to have received this positive determination from the IRS,” said Michael Stoll, executive director of the San Francisco Public Press. “It will allow the Public Press to pursue larger grants and other opportunities restricted to nonprofits with 501(c)3 status.”

The Public Press first submitted an application to the IRS in January 2010. Nonprofit professionals say that the application processing typically takes between two and 12 months. After more than a year of delay, in early 2011 the organization sought help from the Digital Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and from the Investigative News Network, a nonprofit organization representing more than 60 nonprofit news producers around the country.

"It is reassuring that the IRS has finally recognized the critical educational function that the San Francisco Public Press serves,” said Jeff Hermes, director of the Digital Media Law Project, which provided pro bono legal assistance. “Hopefully, the Public Press has now paved the way for other journalism organizations to receive their federal tax exemptions more quickly.”

While the IRS does not comment on pending cases, agents working on the case have confirmed that “several” other projects are still in nonprofit limbo, including The Lens, an award-winning investigative online publication in New Orleans that has been waiting 23 months for a 501(c)3 determination. Both organizations have been supported by Kevin Davis, CEO and executive director of the Investigative News Network.

"The San Francisco Public Press is 100 percent focused on the mission to inform and educate the community in order to foster a vibrant democracy," Davis said. “We hope that this is the start of a phase where the IRS not only grants 501(c)(3) status to the other equally qualified organizations that have been waiting patiently for their turn, but also brings clarity to the process so new organizations can help fill the gap left by commercial media.”


The Public Press gained national attention for its fight for recognition by the IRS from many publications and broadcasters:

“Dan Rather Reports,” Season 7, Episode 7 (April 2012), second segment — ($2 download for whole hour-long program including 14-minute segment) (See a short cut here:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy —

Columbia Journalism Review —

American Journalism Review —

Save the News —

Yes Magazine — —

Nieman Journalism Jab —

The Nonprofit Times —

Inside Counsel — —

Knight Blog — — Some News Organizations in Limbo as IRS Consolidates Review of Exemption Applications (search under News Stories)

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EVENT: Spring print launch party at GAFFTA on 5/12

We're celebrating the spring print launch of the
San Francisco Public Press
with one big


Thursday, May 12, 5:30 - 9 p.m.
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
998 Market St. (Warfield Building), San Francisco


Join us for drinks and appetizers,
and pick up a complimentary copy of the newspaper!

Music by DJ Ario.

Come check out GAFFTA's new home and experience
TRANSMUTATIONS: Sound, Data, and Mechanics

— a site-specific interactive art installation by sonicSENSE

(We're fans of news and art that you can touch.)

Raffle gifts provided by Philz Coffee.

• General admission: $10 via eventbrite or $15 at the door.

• Public Press members (join today!) and contributors to the spring print edition get in free.

We will accept cash, checks and credit cards (via Square) at the door.

EVENT: SF Bay Area Journalist Census presentation and discussion


Please join us for a presentation and discussion of the

San Francisco Bay Area Journalist Census 2000-2010

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

6 to 8 p.m.

World Affairs Council of Northern California

312 Sutter St., San Francisco

6 to 6:30 p.m. — Reception with refreshments

6:30 to 8 p.m. — Presentation of the report, followed by a panel discussion with audience participation.

Find out how job loss has affected journalists in the Bay Area since 2000, talk with a few who have navigated the rapidly shifting media landscape and hear employment experts discuss where the job market is headed.


We hope to see you there!

Preliminary report summaries available at

The San Francisco Bay Area Journalist Census a workforce study assessing changes in the media industry and job dislocation among Bay Area journalists, is sponsored by NOVA, a federally funded employment and training agency based in Sunnyvale. This event is cosponsored by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Renaissance Journalism Center at San Francisco State University.

Preliminary Reports from SF Bay Area Journalist Census

The San Francisco Bay Area Journalist Census 2000-2010 has released preliminary reports from a study of employment trends among Bay Area journalists:

Do these findings reflect what you've observed? Let us know what you think here, on or by sending an email to Some response comments will be included in the final report, which will be released on or about Thursday, April 14, followd by a presentation and discussion at a public event in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 19. Details to follow.

The Journalist Census is a project of the North Valley Job Training Consortium (NOVA), a federally funded nonprofit employment and training agency based in Sunnyvale. NOVA will produce a public report on the Journalist Census findings and will use the study to plan and support future training and workforce development programs in the Bay Area.

SF Public Press helped with efforts to contact current and former Bay Area journalists for this study. We'll be incorporating the findings in the media reporting project described in this Spot.Us pitch.

Members make a difference

The volunteers and freelancers who report for the San Francisco Public Press would like to say thank you to all of our members.

With your help, we are producing context-rich, local journalism and publishing an ad-free newspaper packed with public-interest news reports.

If you haven't done so yet, we hope you will consider making a year-end, tax-deductible donation to support independent public media in San Francisco.

Your gift will help the Public Press thrive in 2011.


Thank you and happy New Year!

SF Public Press print edition coming Tuesday, June 22!

Our pilot print newspaper hits the streets in less than three weeks! We have more than 50 stories lined up from our reporters and more than two dozen independent and public media partners — so much great content that we're expanding the paper from 24 to 28 full-size, broadsheet pages. That's 28 pages filled with news and features — and no paid advertising.
Buy a copy for $2 from
our street hawkers or one of our local retail partners. Or become a member and your copy is free!

We invite you to come celebrate the birth of our pilot print edition from 5 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 22 at Passion Cafe, located at 28 Sixth St. near Market Street in San Francisco. Join us for drinks and appetizers on the rooftop terrace of this stylish French bistro. Tickets — which include a copy of the newspaper — are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Members get in free!

Buy a ticket or become a member today!


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