Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nonprofit news project seeks CEO, editor

The Bay Area News Project (that nonprofit start-up involving Wells Fargo heir F. Warren Hellman (right), KQED, the Berkeley j-school) has posted help wanted ads for its chief executive and executive editor.

Neither posting gives a salary range.

Things the CEO is required to possess include an "ability to foster and encourage smart risk-taking and experimentation." The CEO must also be "a visionary with well-developed people management skills, strategic thinking, and a demonstrated ability to inspire."

The two-page job description for the editor says he or she will lead the project's "team in creating a new model for sustainable journalism that advances the latest technology, and experiments with innovative ways of engaging and interacting with the public, while retaining journalistic values and best practices."

Besides job listings, the project's Web site also has an FAQ. However, there is no mention on it about the possibility that local governments might provide some of the funding for the project. However, it does say that project will serve as a government watchdog.

In Chicago, a similar nonprofit news operation is starting with former LA Times and Chicago Tribune newsroom leader James O'Shea at the helm, according to Chicago Tribune media writer Phil Rosenthal. Like the Bay Area News Project, the "Chicago News Cooperative" intends on providing copy to the New York Times. The Times is doing local inserts in both cities.

In Chicago, there's no talk of government funding.
    A major funding source is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and CNC is looking for additional support from other foundations and individuals. The New York Times will pay CNC for the content it provides, as it does other news services. 
    The goal of CNC is to generate enough revenue from multiple streams, such as membership fees, advertising and service, to be self-sustaining within five years.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Bay Area News Project has built up expectations to the point that if its initial offerings aren't dramatically better than the Chronicle or Mercury, then interest will fade very quickly. The second problem they face is that people are bombarded with news and information. How will they set themselves apart? Their website will be one of dozens providing news specific to the Bay Area, and one of millions providing news in general.

Anonymous said...

We know one thing about this project ... from reading the job descriptions, it's going to be politically correct, that's for sure! Guess there was a big shortage of news being produced by PC news organizations in the Bay Area.

Anonymous said...

why would any serious journalist apply when it appears entirely possible that this project will simply cover what hellman wants it to cover, his pet projects like the ballet. At least in the chicago project, you have the MacArthur foundation, which has a good reputation for funding public broadcasting and staying out of the content decisions by the producers it funds ... nobody knows what hellman is going to do with this.

Anonymous said...

How will people find their content? Um, they are partnering with the New York Times and KQED. Look for links off the websites of both. And both the NYT and KQED website get lots of daily traffic.

Second, it's not like there is an overload of Bay Area news. The amount of original news reporting has been falling steadily in the last decade as the Chron and Merc have cut their staffs by more than half.

Anonymous said...

Why would any serious journalist apply? You're joking, right? Because they are unemployed, Einstein, and because the partners, KQED and the New York Times, have national reputations as journalism leaders.

Perhaps you prefer Glenn Beck?

Anonymous said...

This will end up being a soapbox for Hellman. He'll hire the best journalists to write stories that attract readers, and then the reader will be pointed to an editorial. He's entitled to do whatever he wants with his money, but don't make this sound like he's saving the news business. He's nothing more than another Clint Reilly.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard of separation of church and state? Any respectable news organization, for-profit or non-profit, has firewalls in place to eliminate or at least minimize influence from funders/advertisers on editorial content. Like anything else, the system isn't perfect - but there's no reason to believe that Hellman is going to have any undue influence on the Bay Area News Project.