The CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Bay Area News Project addressed a full house of J-School students, faculty and staff. All Photos by Jeremy Rue
J-School students, faculty and staff caught a rare glimpse behind the curtain of the Bay Area News Project, the non-profit news organization that plans to collaborate with the graduate school. While details of the News Project have remained hazy over the past few months, the recent announcement of the organization’s leadership stoked the J-School community’s excitement for the project.
Jonathan Weber and Lisa Frazier made their first public appearance on Jan 26 as the News Project's Editor-in Chief and CEO respectively. They visited North Gate Hall to celebrate a project that will revitalize journalism in the Bay Area and answer questions from current J-School students who hope to contribute to the project.
The first question was: What will the News Project do?
Weber, the former co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Industry Standard and longtime writer/editor at the Los Angeles Times, described himsel as an “optimist in the dark days”. The News Project, he said, will build a sustainable model of journalism that will provide a community service and fill a gap in the Bay Area that has suffered a loss of 50% of its journalists.
Frazier, the leader of Media & Entertainment Practice at McKinsey & Company, described the News Project as a multimedia newsroom that will forge partnerships with other media outlets.
More specifically, the News Project is a publicly funded media outlet that will produce high-quality regional and community news. It will forge partnerships with local outlets and already has a relationship with the New York Times. The team will take over production of the bi-weekly Bay Area-focused pages currently in the paper. Both Frazier and Weber foresee collaborations with former partner, KQED, despite recent news that organization’s official involvement had ended.
But the burning question on several attendees’ minds was: What about jobs?
Weber and Frazier anticipate hiring 15 journalists by late spring. There is also the possibility of paid internships and freelance opportunities for students and professionals alike. However, at this early stage, details are still taking shape.
In the meantime, the two will concentrate on getting the news organization on its feet by selecting an official name, finding office space in San Francisco, hiring staff and staking its claim on the internet by developing a website.
While details continue to emerge, people can rest assured that the organization will provide what Frazier calls “news for a local market.” He said, “This is not local news, we will interpret news for the people in the Bay Area and produce regional coverage that resonates with everyone.” —Allison Davis
J-School Dean Neil Henry with Bay Area News Project CEO Lisa Frazier
J-School Professor Lydia Chavez with Bay Area News Project Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Weber