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The People Behind the Press: The Public Records Hound

Journalism that changes public policy takes hard work and resources. Your membership in the Public Press helps inform the community about life-and-death issues affecting tens of thousands of San Francisco and Bay Area residents. We’re grateful for support that we’ve received and want to let you know what you’re getting for your donation by introducing you to some of the talented freelance writers, editors, photographers and multimedia journalists who make our newspaper possible. Make a donation today to make sure that our journalists can continue to bring you more serious public-interest reporting in 2014.

The Public Records Hound: Noah Arroyo

Around the newsroom, Noah Arroyo is known for his persistence. “Camping out at someone’s office is an effective, though time-consuming, way to get a source to talk,” he says. “I've learned that the politicians who avoid my phone calls are usually the ones from whom I'll get something interesting – and that, if I do my job well, they'll evade me far less for the next article.”

Noah has worked on three team projects, including “Bracing for the Big One,” in partnership with veteran reporter Barbara Grady, which exposed an obscure list of 3,000 soft-story buildings that San Francisco officials thought to be potentially at risk in the next earthquake. Noah grilled city officials for months about why no effort had been made to contact those building owners and tenants.

After graduating from San Francisco State University in 2010, Noah cut his teeth as a beat reporter at Mission Local before coming to work with the Public Press, where he says he finds the opportunity to delve deeply into an issue rewarding. “Because we take months to fashion long stories on complex topics, Public Press reporters become mini-experts on things that other news outlets don’t often cover.” When researching a story, Noah has found that the most useful thing to say to an expert is, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I would love to understand it. Can you break it down for me?”

Noah's reporting has led to guest appearances on several local radio talk shows, including KQED’s “Forum.” Last month he appeared on KPFA’s “The Morning Mix” with Executive Director Michael Stoll to talk about the findings of his latest project, “Help Wanted: San Francisco’s Workforce Reboot,” examining dysfunction in San Francisco’s workforce development system.

Help us to hire more freelance journalists to do in-depth reporting on under-covered issues. Now is an opportune time to join the Public Press. Make a donation of $100 or more before the new year and we’ll send you a copy of a great example of muckraking investigative reporting — “The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use ‘Plain English’ to Rob You Blind” by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, author and Public Press enthusiast David Cay Johnston.