Steven T. Jones of Bay Guardian reports that this Sunday is the last day The Bay Citizen will provide stories for The New York Times, which prints a Bay Area edition twice a week.
The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit started with $5 million from the late Lehman Brothers executive Warren Hellman, has merged with the 35-year-old Center for Investigative Reporting, headed by former Chronicle editors Phil Bronstein and Robert “Rosey” Rosenthal.
The Guardian headlined its piece “The Bay Citizen divorces NYT to marry CIR.” With the merger, which seems more like a takeover, The Bay Citizen will stop covering breaking news and instead focus on investigations and “accountability journalism.” Dropping the exclusive deal with the Times will allow The Bay Citizen to provide its work to newspapers and broadcasters. CIR has already been doing that through its California Watch label.
Jones says in his Guardian piece:
- But CIR wasn’t as successful as The Bay Citizen in creating a stable, long-term financial base. Starting with Hellman and a handful of his wealthy friends, The Bay Citizen sought donations from a wide variety of sources that totaled more than $15 million. By contrast, CIR had limited term foundation funding for a staff of talented journalists.
In the end, it comes down to money. As Bronstein told Jones: “We’re betting on the idea that quality journalism is something people are willing to pay for.”