Illustration by Lola Noguer

Reality first. You may be wondering why our new fundraising graphic is stuck at 149 new donors. Truth be told, we started out with far fewer, a snag I discovered when double-checking the emails. Yes, I am the founder, executive editor and business manager. (Dios Mio! My father would roll over in his grave at the thought of the last one!)

I, too, am aghast at the thought of my running a business, even a fiscally sponsored one. And for years, I have tried to get funding for a business manager. You may remember my early flirtation with Mark Benioff. I cringe when recalling my naive hope, so quickly dashed. 

Not a month goes by but someone mentions the American Journalism Project, which focuses specifically on helping local journalism on the business side.  We apply nearly every year; we’ll try again this year. And, like everyone with a worthy project, I have fantasies of finding a check from MacKenzie Scott slipped through our office door. BTW, MacKenzie? We’re at 2489 Mission St. #22. (Yes, I can be shameless in the name of my reporters.)

But here’s what I also know: There are a lot of worthy journalism projects out there competing for funding. 

So, dear local readers, we depend a lot on you, the people who directly benefit from a local site that punches way above its weight, one that takes engaging in local government as seriously as it takes the idea that the newsroom should reflect the diversity of the city. 

As an example, look no further than our coverage of SF’s redistricting process. On Tuesday morning, our obsessiveness came into sharp relief. (Can I point out that often we are the ONLY media covering the late-night meetings, which is ridiculous given that we have THREE well-funded, for-profit news sites in San Francisco.)  

I did wonder about our sanity Tuesday at 2 a.m.  Will Jarrett was still at the physical meeting. Joe Eskenazi, stranded in France (that’s another story), watched the meeting in real-time on his computer. I listened to public comments early on and then set my clock to get up at 2 a.m., my fairly accurate estimate of when the discussion would begin.  While I probably did not need to be there, it helps when editing the work that follows. 

It may have been overkill, but we wanted to get a piece out quickly. This piece. 

And showing up meant credibility, so we were also able to break this story about the chair feeling undue influence from the mayor. Will’s maps, displaying what the changes will mean in terms of economic and ethnic diversity, have been superb. Here is one story that lays out four options that were being considered. And here is the story we just posted this morning; another reversal!

So, loyal readers, this is what you support. Smart, thoughtful coverage and reporters who immerse themselves, at all hours, in the story.  

Again, regular readers who have not contributed, this is a campaign to get you at the table.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. Fun story about soliciting Salesforce. Im sure it was disappointing, but your direct response is more than the NYTimes received in their dogged pursuit to interview Ms. Scott. But hot damn, how about that surreptitious let down she gave them in her medium post? Smooth operator.

    ML’s dedication to covering the redistricting process shows. That was great seeing Jarrett introducing himself at the lectern. He’s going for it, no doubt.