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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the San Francisco Public Press?

A noncommercial local Web news source and a quarterly print newspaper.

What do you mean by “noncommercial”

1) It’s owned and operated as a nonprofit charitable organization. 2) It accepts no advertising.

Why no ads?

This strategy focuses the newspaper on its primary product: the news. It also frees the organization to criticize businesses without fear of scaring off its main source of funding. Eliminating ads reduces paper use: An ad-free paper featuring the same amount of news content as a traditional newspaper requires 60 percent less paper.

Then how can you pay for putting out the newspaper?

Like a public broadcaster, the Public Press raises money from community memberships and foundation grants. Unlike a public broadcaster, it charges for the paper. Nonprofit status means “profits” aren’t siphoned off by investors, and donations are tax deductible.

Isn’t ink on dead trees obsolete?

No. Nearly 50 million Americans buy a hard-copy newspaper every day.

Are there any precedents?

There are at least half a dozen newspapers currently owned or operated by nonprofits, including the Tampa Bay Times and the UK Guardian. Two newspapers in this century survived several years without taking ads: Day Book in Chicago in the 1910s and PM in New York in the 1940s. NPR and PBS are also important analogues.

Is this “citizen journalism”?

The reporting is done by experienced professional journalists. But the paper reverse-publishes selected Web comments, blog posts and reporting from community members.

What other media does the Public Press collaborate with?

We share reporting resources with more than 30 other nonprofits, including local public radio broadcasters, civic organizations and other online and print-based local public media.