Bay Citizen, Center for Investigative Reporting Consider Merger

Launched in 2010, Bay Citizen, a nonprofit online news operation that covers the San Francisco Bay area, is in merger talks with another nonprofit news organization, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Established and funded by the late private equity mogul and Bay Area philanthropist Warren Hellman, Bay Citizen had seen its founding editor-in-chief Jonathan Weber resign abruptly in September, followed in October by the announcement that founding CEO Lisa Frazier would resign early this year. In December, Hellman died unexpectedly, leaving the publication in a precarious position.

According to the organization, Phil Bronstein, a former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, had agreed to become its CEO if it merged with CIR, which was established in Berkeley in 1977, and California Watch, a CIR project. However, merging two nonprofit entities in California is a daunting proposition and would need to be approved by the state's attorney general.

Still, both organizations have expressed interest in some form of partnership. "I think there's a tremendous possibility of bringing together two strong and unique organizations and blending their strengths and assets into something unique in nonprofit journalism," Robert Rosenthal, executive director of CIR, told the Bay Citizen. "It could be transformational in terms of innovation around story delivery on all platforms and engaging its audiences in ways that were unthinkable even five years ago, as the technology and social media are evolving."

Stu Woo. "Bay Citizen in Merger Talks With Another Nonprofit." Wall Street Journal 02/01/2012. Peter Lewis. "The Bay Citizen in Merger Talks." Bay Citizen 02/02/2012.