Formerly known as the Bay Area News Project, the Bay Citizen was conceived by billionaire financier Warren Hellman last year when the San Francisco Chronicle was in danger of folding as a way to ensure the survival of locally generated news coverage, the San Francisco Business Times reports. The site is intended to enhance civic and community news coverage in the Bay Area, stimulate innovation in journalism, and foster civic engagement. At launch, the Bay Citizen featured investigative reporting from its newsroom of fourteen reporters and editors on public policy, education, arts and cultural affairs, health and science, and the environment; a news blog; reader-created blogs; and the debut of a column on the chronically troubled child protection system. An arrangement to produce articles for the New York Times' Bay Area section is expected to begin soon.
Since February, the Bay Citizen has received gifts of $1 million each from the Fisher family, Jeff and Laurie Ubben, and Diane B. Wilsey; additional contributions from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Arthur Rock, Lynn Feintech and Anthony Bernhardt, and the San Francisco Foundation; and more than $65,000 from a founding member campaign that has attracted donations of at least $50 from more than 750 individuals to date. The additional funds will supplement $5 million in seed funding from the Hellman Family Foundation and a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
"We're extremely grateful to our founding donors," said Bay Citizen CEO Lisa Frazier. "Their contributions have helped us take another important step toward the long-term sustainability of the organization. We are thrilled to have their support as we launch our site and continue to build our newsroom."