Who are you staff?
A lot of the people who write and photograph and produce the news for us are volunteers but they have a background working as professional journalists.
One of the problems that has arisen the past couple of years is that a lot of journalists have been laid off, as the industry has contracted pretty rapidly, so a lot of our volunteers are professional journalists.
Our news editor spent 22 years as an editor at the Chronicle and has a wealth of experience doing local news, but was part of a recent round of layoffs and downsizing, and wants to give back to the community and do something inventive and new. And wants to contribute to the idea that news ought to be a competitive landscape and not just a monoculture by the dominant players.
So we have a couple of people with experience going back decades; we also have people on the other end of the spectrum, who are interns in college or straight out of college looking to bolster their skills, haven't found paying jobs in the industry but are dedicated to the idea of doing really hard-hitting public policy stories that make a difference in the community.
Then we have everything in between. I myself spent 7 years in newspapers, went off into academic research and education but I've come back because I think there's an opportunity now as the whole industry transitions into something new to invent new models and take a fresh approach, but in a professional context.
We are absolutely sure to check all our facts, to be fair, we don’t' do advocacy reporting, we're straight down the middle professional news reporters.
We do pay some reporters some of the time. Most of our reports who started out as volunteers have made something through a combination of specific grants and fellowships from foundations, through micro-funding using web sites that aggregate small donations from a lot of people who want to support independent journalism but don’t' have a lot of money to do it.
So we are able to pay most of our journalists something, but it's very intermittent, it's not something you do to get rich. The people who are writing for us are doing it because they're passionate about local news, and because they believe this project will eventually gain enough legs to become a mostly paid professional gig. But it's not there yet, it's still in startup mode and we're still working as a very scrappy organization.
You can read SF Public Press on the KQED News site.