February 1, 2012; Source: Wall Street Journal | In what has been a very quick and expensive sprint, the Bay Citizen, a nonprofit journalism website in the San Francisco area, has apparently entered merger talks with the national Center for Investigative Reporting. The Bay Citizen—a local, independent news source—is only two years old, and got started with a seed grant of $5 million from Warren Hellman, a local philanthropist and investor. It has apparently been able to raise $17.5 million total on an annual budget of $5 million since it started, so it seems somewhat financially healthy. But Hellman (who was also the Bay Citizen’s board chair) died in December and now both its chief executive and interim editor in chief are leaving the organization this week.
I am sure the story behind the story here is a fascinating roller coaster-like case study that we could all learn from, but this apparently leaves the organization largely rudderless. Complicating the situation, perhaps, is the fact that former San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein, who is also the president of the Center for Investigative Reporting’s board, “has been in talks about an editorial leadership position in the proposed organization.”
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We’d love to hear any scuttlebutt you know regarding this situation.–Ruth McCambridge