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Bay Area

New San Francisco biodiversity push could come too late for golf course critters

Erica Reder, SF Public Press — Jun 14 2011 - 10:00am

Public debate about the plight of protected species on a San Francisco-owned golf course in Pacifica has refocused attention on the city’s commitment to safeguarding natural diversity. In late May, the San Francisco Department of the Environment adopted its first biodiversity plan, which would make it city policy to protect rare plants and animals. The idea that San Francisco could do more to protect biodiversity is gaining momentum among city officials, a movement that could change debates on land use. A proposal that Supervisor John Avalos floated last month would turn the Sharp Park golf course over to the National Park Service. His plan was a reaction to environmentalists’ sustained push to aid federally protected species that live there, the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog.

Harder to Chronicle: fewer reporters cover more territory as Hearst, Media News reduce coverage overlap

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Jun 2 2011 - 12:02pm

BYGONE BUREAUS: 8 of 9 local offices of the San Francisco Chronicle shuttered in last decade

This story appeared in the spring print edition as part of the Public Press’ media package of stories.

The days of the major daily newspapers in the Bay Area battling on each others’ home turf for domination is over, as consolidation and staff reductions forced them to slash bureaus and zoned editions. The San Francisco Chronicle, which a decade ago had nine news bureaus scattered across the entire Bay Area,  now just has one, in Oakland. And in San Mateo County, where the pressroom used to be packed with reporters from radio, TV and newspapers, most days there is only a single reporter from a regional wire service.

Story of a survivor: coastal paper maintains civic coverage despite cuts

Tom Honig, SF Public Press — Jun 2 2011 - 11:31am

This article appeared in the spring print edition as part of the Public Press’ media package of stories.  

When the Santa Cruz Sentinel was sold by Ottaway Newspapers to the ever-expanding MediaNews Group, editor Tom Honig didn’t like what he was seeing. The printing plant was shuttered, layoffs were orders and the newspaper moved out of Santa Cruz itself to nearby Scotts Valley. He made himself one of the layoff victims. But looking back, he now sees that civic journalism has survived thanks to the hard work of the smaller staff.

Editors’ note: reporting on ourselves

Editors, SF Public Press — May 31 2011 - 5:52pm

ON THE MEDIA REPORTING PROJECT: Traditionally, news organizations have drawn clear distinctions between opinion and factual reporting. And in the event of even the appearance of a conflict of interest, the reporter is reassigned. The problem is, the media are powerful. What journalists write and say can make the difference in clarifying complex public policies, helping consumers make wise decisions and preventing social and even criminal injustice. The Public Press commissioned a team of experienced journalists to report — and in some cases reflect on — the rapidly changing media landscape. All have conflicts of interest in that they make their living, as best they can, in what remains of the news industry. Nonetheless, we thought that this was an important story to tell.

Apocalyptic beliefs hasten the end of the world

Jason Mark, Earth Island Journal — May 20 2011 - 4:26pm

Commentary: Americans’ Judgment Day visions make it harder to gain traction on climate action

Billboards and bus stop ads, plastered in cities from Florida to California, announce that this coming Saturday, May 21, will be Judgment Day. This “guarantee” actually comes from an 89-year-old Christian fundamentalist, radio host, and co-founder of the Oakland-based Family Radio network, whose outfit has paid for 5,500 billboards worldwide (including many in the Bay Area). That thousands of people around the world are convinced that tomorrow a massive global earthquake is a sign — but not of the biblical sort. Fringe religious rhetoric confuses the very real and urgent issues of environmental degradation and climate change.

 

Don’t build neighborhood on SF Bay salt flats, Redwood City voters say in new poll

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — May 18 2011 - 5:49pm

A new poll by a regional environmental group, Save the Bay, puts a new spin on the controversy in Redwood City over plans to build a massive development on unused salt ponds on the edge of San Francisco Bay. Fifty-seven percent of voters polled said they opposed Arizona developer DMB Associates’ proposal to build a mini-city by partially paving over 1,436 acres of low-lying salt ponds on the eastern edge of Redwood City. Only 28 percent of those polled supported the plan while the remaining 15 percent were neutral. Save the Bay says the poll should be a warning sign to politicians inclined to approve the plan. But developers called the poll itself flawed.

Local biotech companies help low-performing schools teach science

Siri Markula, SF Public Press — May 18 2011 - 2:45pm

An under-performing school in East Palo Alto is working on a new initiative started by a Northern California science education network to boost students’ science comprehension and, optimistically, make scientists out of them. The Bio-Community.org network enables Bay Area biotechnology companies to send visiting scientists to schools, giving kids an up-close interaction with science. Local biotech companies are working with students from middle school to community college to increase the labor pool of workers in research and lab work. The companies want students not only to learn science but also to make it a career option. In the process, the schools and volunteers there hope this focus will increase students overall performance and improve graduation rates.

Bay Area directors explore post-9/11 FBI entrapment in ‘Better This World’

Michael Levitin, SF Public Press — May 16 2011 - 3:56pm

Winner of the best documentary feature award at the San Francisco International Film Festival earlier this month, “Better This World,” a film by Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway, looks at what happened to two young Texas activists imprisoned for allegedly plotting terrorist acts at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, and the dubious role that one charismatic activist played in their downfall. The co-directors spoke with the Public Press about domestic security problems, what drove them to make the film, and why the rest of us should care.

Proposal to ban shark fins in California heats up

Jerold Chinn and T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Feb 14 2011 - 6:54pm

Assemblymen Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) have proposed legislation to ban all sales and distribution of shark fins in the state. Both assemblymen say the shark population has decreased dramatically due to the popular rise of a Chinese delicacy of shark fin soup served at many Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area.
Opponents of the legislation like State Sen. Leland Yee says this is an attack on the Chinese culture and heritage.

Decades after Sonoma ‘Running Fence,’ Christo still making art — and waves

Erin Van Rheenen, Special to SF Public Press — Nov 24 2010 - 11:23am

New documentary examines public battles over revolutionary installation.

Bureaucracy has once again issued a daunting challenge to the art of Christo, this time “Over the River,” his proposed temporary installation of shimmering fabric across the Arkansas River in Colorado. The battle, waged this summer, mirrors one that arose just across the Golden Gate Bridge in the early 1970s, when Christo and his French wife/collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, fought government and naysayers to create “Running Fence.”

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