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Key links:
Primary website:
baycitizen.org
Primary Twitter:
@thebaycitizen

The Bay Citizen was a nonprofit local news site based in San Francisco that is now part of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The site was announced in September 2009 as the Bay Area News Project and launched in May 2010 as the Bay Citizen. In March 2012, the site merged with the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, which also ran the state news site California Watch. In 2013, CIR ceased The Bay Citizen as a brand, merging its work under the CIR banner.

The combined organization had a staff of 70 and a budget of $10.5 million in 2012. At the time of the merger, the Bay Citizen itself had a full-time staff of about 30.

Its partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, drew concern that it would exploit college students for free labor, though that arrangement was later clarified to consist of paid internships as well as a joint “test kitchen” for journalism innovation.

The Bay Citizen produced original content for The New York Times’ twice-weekly Bay Area section from 2010 to 2012, when it ended its relationship with the Times shortly after it merged with CIR. Public radio station KQED had also initially been a founding partner, though it left the project before the site launched.

The Bay Citizen received $5 million in startup funding from investment banker Warren Hellman and had raised $3.7 million more by the time of its launch. Its primary revenue source initially is intended to be large donations (including $250,000 from the Knight Foundation), though it is planned to move toward a model based on memberships, advertising and syndication to other news organizations.

Its leaders initially aimed to be self-sustaining and have an $8 million annual budget within four years.

The Bay Citizen offered other local sites the opportunity to post their full stories on its site for $25 each, along with occasional reporting assistance. The proposal was met largely with skepticism, though about 15 local news sites have become the Bay Citizen’s “community partners.”

The Bay Citizen’s first CEO, Lisa Frazier, was paid $400,000 a year, a figure that has drew some concern from critics.

In 2011, it was awarded a joint grant with the Texas Tribune to build a open-source news CMS that would be designed to support both editorial flow and to take advantage of emerging revenue opportunities.

Audio: KQED interview with some of the Bay Citizen’s founding entities

Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
March 29, 2012 / Adrienne LaFrance
Merger means the new Bay Citizen will be more investigative and experimental — On cutting back on breaking news coverage at The Bay Citizen: "There's almost no such thing as first anymore."...
March 11, 2011 / Lois Beckett
A WordPress for news orgs: Knight gives Bay Citizen, Texas Tribune $975,000 for open-source CMS — This morning, the Knight Foundation announced a new $975,000 grant to the Texas Tribune and the Bay Citizen, two young nonprofit news organizations, to build an open-source publishing platform designed specifically for n...
Feb. 23, 2011 / Lois Beckett
The context-based news cycle: editor John O’Neil on the future of The New York Times’ Topics Pages — "There’s are a lot of people in the news industry who are very skeptical of anything that isn't news," says The New York Times' John O'Neil. As the editor of the Times' Topic Pages, which he calls a "current events enc...
Jan. 21, 2011 / Lois Beckett
“There’s a lot of pressure to play for the short term”: The Bay Citizen’s editor on its $15 million future — Seven months into its bid to reinvent the metro newspaper, The Bay Citizen has hired a staff of 28, rolled out daily online news and culture coverage, and, during November, attracted a monthly audience of approximately 2...
Jan. 19, 2011 / Lois Beckett
“Gee, you guys are spending an awful lot of money”: The Bay Citizen editor on funding quality news — Seven months into its bid to reinvent the metro newspaper, The Bay Citizen, the San Francisco-based nonprofit news site, has raised a total of $14.5 million in philanthropic gifts, rolled out daily online news and cultur...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: May 23, 2013.
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