Bay Citizen in Merger Talks

The news is making the news lately: the nonprofit news website the Bay Citizen is in merger talks with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The local news-saving nonprofit news source, the Bay Citizen, is in merger talks with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

No less a source than the Bay Citizen reported news of the talks, which have been making the rounds through the local rumor mill of late. The CIR is based in Berkeley.

The Bay Citizen began life as the Bay Area News Project thanks to a generous gift from the late philanthropist Warren Hellman, who died at 77 in December.

All of the Bay Citizen's original leadership has left the organization, which has a news-sharing contract in place with the New York Times.

Its founding editor left last summer, the CEO announced plans to resign due to health reasons early this year, and the interim editor-in-chief left to pursue a book deal just last week.

The Bay Citizen, now without a leader, has also been "left out" of talks about the merger, according to its reporters.

"Journalists have been left out of the process,” said Aaron Glantz, a Bay Citizen staff reporter and chairman of the newsroom’s Newspaper Guild bargaining unit. "Neither the organization’s board of directors nor the outgoing CEO have ever consulted with staff on the possible merger."

A merger would put the entire organization under control of former San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein, who is now overseeing the CIR. If the merger takes place, journalists will lose their jobs and there would be "$900,000 in duplicative personnel," the Bay Citizen reported.

"We are deeply concerned that in the absence of a CEO and editor-in-chief, we do not have an advocate who will fight for what we have all worked so hard to build here at The Bay Citizen," Glantz said in an e-mail.

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