DOUBLE your Impact with NewsMatch. Become a member today!

The Public Press Blog

Meet the Team: Noah Arroyo and Tearsa Hammock

If you’ve been reading the San Francisco Public Press for a while, you may be familiar with the work of Noah Arroyo and Tearsa Hammock – two members of our all-star team.  Today, we’ve asked them to introduce themselves and talk a bit about their work. Here’s what they had to say:

To get Noah and Tearsa’s work out to an even bigger audience, please donate to our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign! While we’ve reached our $10,000 goal, we still need 1,000 backers to receive a $10,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. One dollar is all it takes to be a backer and support investigative journalism in the Bay Area!

Famous Newsies of Yore

Legend has it that the first newspaper boy was 10-year-old Barney Flaherty, hired in 1833 by the New York Sun in response to an advertisement that read: "To the Unemployed a number of steady men can find employment by vending this paper."

A boy on his bicycle delivering the Toronto Star in 1940. Photo by Marjorie Georgina Ruddy via Wikimedia Commons

Ambitious, enterprising youngsters were soon selling and delivering newspapers throughout the country. The first job for many a successful person, the list of famous folks who got their start as newspaper delivery boys includes:

  • Walt Disney
  • H. Ross Perot
  • Bob Hope
  • Ed Sullivan
  • Danny Thomas
  • John Wayne
  • Bing Crosby
  • Jimmy Durante
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Herbert Hoover
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Harry S. Truman
  • Ed Sullivan
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Tom Brokaw
  • Wayne Gretzky
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Source: Newspaper Association of America via Library Spot

Want to know more about what it was like to be a newspaper delivery boy? Coming up later this week, we’ve got an interview with a former newsie who worked right here in San Francisco. In the meantime, support our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign and help us get our own bicycle-riding newsies on the road!  

Roundup: The Best of the San Francisco Public Press

In the mood for a good Friday afternoon read?

Since it launched in March 2009, the San Francisco Public Press has published in-depth investigative stories on public-interest topics ranging from human trafficking to smart growth. With our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign, we’re hoping to double our San Francisco distribution, giving more readers access to these important, under-reported stories.

Here’s a roundup of some of our best articles and special reports:

David Cohn on Artisanal News

“What I love about what the San Francisco Public Press is doing is the idea of treating news almost artisanal… Lots of time, and love, and energy, and sweat and blood goes into each paper…”

David Cohn is a San Francisco Public Press board member and longtime advisor in the realm of all things digital. After founding, which was acquired by American Public Media, David joined the founding team at Circa – a mobile news app that covers world events by constantly recombining brief updates – where he is now Chief Content Officer. Here’s what he had to say about the San Francisco Public Press and our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign:

It Takes More Than a Catchy Headline

“Newsies,” which came out in 1992, is a cult classic film loosely based on the New York City Newsboys Strike of 1899. We’re taking this piece of immortal wisdom to heart with our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign, which will help us hire our own team of newsies to deliver the San Francisco Public Press print editions by bicycle straight to your door. We’ve got the headlines covered – we need your support to get our newsies-on-wheels out there!

Gif courtesy of the-birdie

A Subway-Style Map for Cyclists

With your support for our Pedal-Powered News campaign on Kickstarter, we’ll have a team of newsies on bikes ready to deliver our summer print edition to destinations throughout San Francisco. What routes will they take as they zoom around the city? Very likely one of these:

This subway-style map comes courtesy of San Francisco cyclist Mat Kladney, who submitted it to the See-Through Maps exhibition at U.C. Berkeley last year, where it was a finalist.

“As a long time cyclist, I recently realized that the mental map that exists in my mind of San Francisco is different from most (and importantly does not exist in print form),” Kladney wrote in an essay accompanying the map.

Kladney’s map answers the simple, practical question “how do I get from here to there?” But as any cyclist will tell you, the ride is often its own reward.

Kladney emailed the Public Press details about three routes he’s been enjoying lately:

1. O'Shaughnessy hill along Glen Canyon and connecting it to Laguna Honda.  It is a long, slightly steep hill, but very bikable and beautiful along the whole length of the trail.

2. Polk Street, it is a little crazy and a little dangerous, but really fun and MUCH faster than street traffic.  And with the northbound contra-flow bikeway, is now directly connected to Market Street.

3. Riding to Golden Gate Bridge from Arguello.  You only have to ride up one hill and are awarded with the best views of the bay.

If you want one of your own, Kladney’s awesome map is available for purchase on his

And if you haven’t already, please support our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign! Every dollar counts!

Bikes Haul It All in 'Less Car More Go'

The Public Press will soon be getting into the cargo bike business with our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign. We thought it would be a good idea to learn more about the field, so we talked to Liz Canning, a filmmaker and animator based in Fairfax, California, about “Less Car More Go,” her crowd-sourced documentary about the birth and boom of the cargo bike, for which she’s currently raising funds.

The following interview has been edited and condensed. Photo courtesy of Liz Canning.

Liz Canning with her children on her cargo bike.Can you tell us a bit about the history of cargo bikes?

The first cargo bikes were made over a hundred years ago in Northern Europe, where they were a big deal. They caught on here for a little while around the turn of the century, and even in the 1950s there were a lot of delivery bikes, but they disappeared once we started using cars. The Xtracycle was invented around 1995, and they tried really hard to get it to catch on here, but it just didn’t. It wasn’t until around 2006, 2007 that cargo bikes started to come back.

Why now?

I think it was partly rising gas prices, awareness of climate change issues and even the economy tanking.

Where in the country are we seeing the cargo bike movement taking off?

It’s happening mostly in the bike-friendly cities: the Bay Area, Portland, where they’ve been doing it for a long time, and even places like New York and Chicago.

Are there ways that cities can make it easier for people to use cargo bikes?

Yes, and I think that the major cities are all working on bike infrastructure right now. There’ve been some laws passed that have made a lot more money available for bike infrastructure, and I think it’s going to get better and better.

Another really exciting thing that’s about to happen in the Bay Area is that City CarShare is going to add electric cargo bikes to their program. Cargo bikes are expensive, but once people try it — especially with electric assist — they see that it’s easy, and anyone can do it. So I think having a bike share program where it’s available for people to just try is going to be great.

How does electric assist work?

With electric assist, you have a motor that goes in the hub of your wheel, and then a battery someplace else on the bike. There are different kinds of systems, but mine, for example, is straddle-activated. I use it whenever I need a little boost to get up a hill, or if I’m carrying four kids. It makes riding a cargo bike much more fun and doable, so that you never really have an excuse. You might be tired, you might not want to get sweaty, you might be picking up a lot of stuff along the way, but with electric assist, there’s no reason not to take the bike, really.

How did you get into cargo bikes?

I’ve always loved my bike, I was never into driving and I loved riding everywhere around the Bay Area. It was hard when I had my kids and realized that I couldn’t get them up our hill anymore. So I started looking around on the Internet and I found this cargo bike. We bought it pretty quickly and immediately realized that it was a huge benefit to us. Then, once we got the electric assist, I realized that this was not just for hardcore cyclists. Anybody could really benefit from this.

How did the idea for “Less Car More Go” come about?

We got the bike four years ago and the electric assist nine months after that. I’d had the motor for a few months, and was realizing through spending time online how many blogs there were. People were writing about how their cargo bikes had enhanced their lives and I kept on talking about the idea until my husband said, “you just have to do this, you can’t drop it.”

What about cargo bikes makes people so excited?

There’s so much of our daily life when I think we’re aware that we’re compromising ourselves. To me, it’s like when you get on a bike, everything about it feels right — it’s good for your body, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for your kids if they’re with you. Riding with kids is totally magical.

It’s a really contagious feeling, and I think that’s why the connections between cargo cyclists are so intense. There are a lot of groups, and they are really supportive of each other. It’s something that we all want to see more people doing. The support for the project and for the Kickstarter has been amazing.

What are some of your favorite stories?

Well, of course, there’s Emily Finch, the mom who carries six kids on her bike in Portland. It’s unbelievable. Her bike with all the kids on it probably weighs over 600 pounds. She actually used to drive a nine-passenger suburban in Pennsylvania, but became concerned about peak oil and started thinking about a new way of transporting her kids. At the time, in Pennsylvania, people thought she was insane. She moved to Portland partly because she realized that she just didn’t want to drive anymore.

Another family, Stacy Bisker and Brent Patterson, had four kids and a lot of student debt, and decided purely for financial reasons to get a cargo bike. They were not bike people and now they are so all over it. They don’t have any cars. They had to move to Buffalo, New York and they got through the whole winter without using a car.

The bike people will come, they’ll be interested, but this isn’t going to take off unless we expand our notion of what bike people are. Mikael Colville-Andersen talks a lot about how the main obstacle with many of the Anglo-Saxon countries is that bikes have been a toy or a recreational vehicle for so long. People really think of it as something that you do for sport. They don’t take it seriously as a practical solution to many problems.

Are you seeing a lot of businesses switching over?

It’s slow-going in this country. George Bliss, who’s kind of a big deal in the history of cargo bikes in New York — he owned a pedicab business and now he owns a cargo bike shop — he talks about how there’s sort of a romanticism involved with being a bike messenger, there’s sort of the cool factor, but once you put a lot of weight on a bike, it’s sort of a grubby job. So it’s going to take somebody like Whole Foods, some big chain getting a fleet of electric-assist cargo bikes or trikes and doing a lot of their business that way, and then it will catch on.

In Europe, for example, the European Cyclists Federation has this group called Cycle Logistics. It’s a collaboration between representatives from about nine different European cities, all of which are really congested and built obviously before the automobile. What they’re trying to do is get the last part of a delivery run — the intra-city delivery — all done on cargo bikes, so there’s a lot of businesses there starting to use bikes. It’s happening there for sure.

Would you like a newspaper delivered by cargo bike?

Out here [in Fairfax], that person would have a real workout, but in San Francisco, absolutely. I think that’d be so cool.

Check out Liz’s Less Car More Go Kickstarter Campaign

Check out the Public Press' Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter Campaign

Public Press Receives INNovation Fund Grant from Knight Foundation and Investigative News Network

The San Francisco Public Press was awarded a $35,000 grant through the INNovation Fund, a partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Investigative News Network, to launch a street mobilization program that will increase community engagement and generate income to support the Public Press in reporting and publishing in-depth, local public-interest news.

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

The People Behind the Press: The Digital Strategist

We want you to know what you’re getting for your membership donation by introducing you to some of the talented freelance writers, editors, photographers and multimedia journalists who make our newspaper possible. Join or renew your membership now to make sure that our journalists can continue to bring you more serious public-interest reporting in 2014.
The Digital Strategist: David Cohn
A longtime adviser to the Public Press, David has been a source of tireless enthusiasm, inspiration and new ideas.
A member of the Public Press board of directors, David was an original member of the founding steering committee and has long advised our organization on everything from technology, marketing and outreach to crowdfunding and social media. “I've been sold on the vision and mission and want to help however I can," he says.
David is known across the country as an energetic, savvy expert in novel and engaging ways to cover communities. “There are a lot of innovators in the journalism space,” Executive Director Michael Stoll says, “but David Cohn has a big heart, and in all his creative projects has used a digital-native understanding of the Web for good.” Publisher Lila LaHood says of David: “His positive attitude makes you look at a difficult situation and see all the possibilities.”  
David is the founding editor of Circa, a mobile news app that covers world events by constantly recombining brief updates. He also founded, which connected journalists and media organizations with crowd-sourced funding. The site was later acquired by American Public Media. Through, the Public Press was able to raise more than $25,000 for about 10 reporting projects.  
David says he stays involved because “the quality of work being done is astounding. I am not always sure how it gets done, but the San Francisco Public Press produces fantastic enterprise journalism. The quality of the print product is unmatched.”
Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Syndicate content