Our spring issue is here! Join us to celebrate at our launch party on March 20th.

Lila LaHood's blog

JOB: Bicycle delivery team for Pedal-Powered News pilot program

Seeking bicycle delivery crewmembers to distribute the San Francisco Public Press, a quarterly newspaper, to homes, offices, stores and community centers throughout San Francisco.

We have an immediate need for bicycle delivery crewmembers to work one or more days from Tuesday, July 29, through Friday, Aug. 1.

Ideal availability: four to eight hours per day. Delivery assignments must be completed within two days. Timing of deliveries is generally flexible, though some must be completed during business hours.

The San Francisco Public Press is a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization that publishes local public-interest news online at sfpublicpress.org and in a quarterly print newspaper. Funding for this pilot bicycle delivery program was raised through our Pedal-Powered News campaign on Kickstarter.


You must:

  • supply your own bike.
  • have experience riding a bike on the streets of San Francisco.
  • be able to ride — with some combination of panniers, baskets and/or cargo trailer — at least three miles carrying 40 lbs. of newspapers.
  • be committed to safe cycling and obeying traffic laws.
  • document deliveries and communicate professionally with store managers about their needs related to selling the newspaper.
  • be a friendly, knowledgeable ambassador for the San Francisco Public Press.


  • strong knowledge of the San Francisco street map, landmarks and topography
  • previous experience as a bike messenger
  • interest in and knowledge of local news
  • previous customer service or sales experience
  • experience working or volunteering for a nonprofit organization

Pay is $15 per hour.

We will hire for additional delivery assignments throughout August. Delivery for the fall issue will take place in October.

Ongoing opportunities are available for individuals interested in working with the Public Press in sales, billing and retail account management as we expand our distribution network throughout San Francisco.

TO APPLY: Call 415-495-7377 or send an email to bikes@sfpublicpress.org. If applying by email, please include the following:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Your availability for delivery work Tuesday, July 29, through Friday, Aug. 1
  • Tell us why we should hire you for our Pedal-Powered News pilot program.
  • Do you own a cargo bike, or is your bike equipped with baskets, panniers or a cargo trailer?

Thanks to our 1,016 favorite people, we got our $10K match!

Dear friends and supporters,

We did it! And it all happened thanks to you. Throughout this campaign, we were amazed by your generosity in backing Pedal-Powered News and by your contagious enthusiasm for supporting local public-interest journalism.

With your help, we raised $21,328 — more than double our Kickstarter fundraising goal — and recruited 1,016 backers, which unlocked an additional $10,000 in matching funds from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

If you followed the last few hours of the campaign, you know that we were showered with support on social media. The campaign went viral and reached 1,000 backers at 10:46 p.m. — just in the nick of time.

We love that 16 of you joined us even after we reached our participation target! If you wanted to back Pedal-Powered News and ran out of time, you can always support this effort by becoming a member on our website.

From all of us at the San Francisco Public Press, we can’t thank you enough for supporting this nonprofit, noncommercial news organization and our efforts to produce in-depth, data-driven, consequential investigations on under-reported topics.

We look forward to launching our team of newsies-on-wheels to deliver our summer issue later this month! Watch for a follow-up survey to verify the spelling of your name for publication on thank-you pages online and in our summer print edition, which is set to arrive at the end of July.

Special thanks to Knight Foundation and to the Investigative News Network for taking a chance with our offbeat idea for engaging the community and getting the Public Press into the hands of more local readers.

With sincerest thanks and great appreciation,

Lila LaHood, Michael Stoll and everyone at the San Francisco Public Press

Pedal-Powered News is Fully Funded on Kickstarter!

195 More $1 Backers Needed by Midnight!

Thank you for supporting our Pedal-Powered News campaign on Kickstarter — you have helped us raise more than $18,600!

We have one more favor to ask, and it needs to happen today.

The San Francisco Public Press has a shot at a great opportunity — can you help? We need 195 people to give $1 by the end of today to unlock a $10,000 matching grant.

With just eight hours to go, we are in the final stretch. You can help by encouraging your friends to give $1 to Pedal-Powered News.

If we can close the campaign with 1,000 backers giving at least $1 each before 11:59 p.m. today — July 1 — we will reach our high participation goal and receive a $10,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

By all accounts, the campaign has been a great success. Thank you to everyone who has contributed already! With your help, the Public Press has raised more than $18,600 from 805 people for Pedal-Powered News and will receive a $5,000 matching grant from Knight Foundation.

Thanks to your generous donations, our newsroom will be able to bring more news to more readers and will have the capacity to produce more of the stories that matter to you.

Thank you for your continued support!

Michael Stoll, Lila LaHood and everyone at the San Francisco Public Press

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

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: rsvp@sfpublicpress.org.

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 sfpublicpress.org 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 — http://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/dan-rather-reports-season-7/id485436827 ($2 download for whole hour-long program including 14-minute segment) (See a short cut here: http://sfpublicpress.org/blog/2012-06/public-press-on-dan-rather-reports)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy — http://philanthropy.com/article/Nonprofit-News-Groups-Face/129398/?sid=pt&utm_source=pt&utm_medium=en

Columbia Journalism Review — http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/nonprofit_news_and_the_tax_man.php?page=all

American Journalism Review — http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5167

Save the News — http://www.freepress.net/blog/11/10/17/nonprofits-hit-trouble-irs

Yes Magazine — http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/no-news-is-bad-news-for-nonprofit-journalism

Poynter.org — http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/164759/irs-delays-make-it-hard-for-nonprofit-news-sites-to-build-their-businesses/

Nieman Journalism Jab — http://www.niemanlab.org/2012/03/passing-the-nonprofit-test-a-guide-for-nonprofit-news-outlets-on-how-to-get-501c3-status/

The Nonprofit Times — http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/article/detail/backlog-precedent-stall-tax-exempt-status-of-news-groups-4150

Inside Counsel — http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/01/01/irss-inaction-on-granting-tax-exemption-status-has

Current.org — http://www.current.org/wp-content/themes/current/archive-site/federal/fed1209nonprofit-journalism.html

Knight Blog — http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2012/5/3/do-irs-nonprofit-media-rules-need-digital-age-update/

Taxanalysts.com — 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

RSVP: http://sfpublicpress2011spring.eventbrite.com/

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.

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