Threats to Freedom of the Press Are Real

Journalists across the country are wringing their hands about how they might have enabled, or at least tolerated, the rise of an impulsive, would-be strongman in Washington. Donald Trump has plainly pledged to sue journalists for offending him, blacklist reporters from access to government sources and public records, break up media companies that question his policies and crack down on protesters. The election has accelerated conversation about the meaning of the philosophically fraught term “objectivity.” In the new political era, taking that word too literally clearly risks coming in conflict with other principles we hold dear: free speech, the rule of law, the public’s right to know and the democratic process itself. The Public Press has always abided by a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy stance — one we intend to maintain. At the same time, the changing tenor of the national political debate has encouraged us to reconnect with and reaffirm what we think of as a “pro-public” bias.

San Francisco Green Festival

Join Us at the SF Green Festival Nov. 11-13

Join the San Francisco Public Press at the San Francisco Green Festival Nov. 11-13 at Pier 35. Visit our outreach team at the Public Press booth throughout the weekend. More details and ticket info. The festival will feature more than 250 exhibitors and a full schedule of speakers adressing a wide range of topics on the environment and sustainable living trends, as well as free yoga sessions and cooking demonstrations.

Talking on the Radio About Money in S.F. Politics

Public Press Assistant Editor Noah Arroyo, right, with Mission Local reporter Joe Rivano Barros, at Photo by Laura Wenus / Mission Local

San Francisco Public Press Assistant Editor Noah Arroyo discussed money in city elections with Mission Local reporter Joe Rivano Barros on radio Thursday morning. The show was hosted by Mission Local Managing Editor Laura Wenus. [LISTEN HERE]
“The first rule of politics is: follow the money,” Wenus said. Arroyo’s latest stories unpack a November ballot measure to limit lobbyists from “bundling” certain campaign contributions from several sources.

City Officials, Experts Grapple With Looming Sea Level Rise

San Francisco Public Press Executive Director and Editor Michael Stoll (far right) presented findings from the Summer 2015 investigation on sea level rise in the Bay Area. From left, Beckie Zisser, with Save the Bay; J. Letitia Grenier, from the San Francisco Estuary Institute; Gil Kelley, director of citywide planning; and Steven Goldbeck, from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, spoke on a panel at the San Francisco Public Library’s main branch earlier this month. Photo by Hye-Jin Kim / San Francisco Public Press
The Bay Area is a long way from being prepared for impending sea level rise. That was the assessment from experts in City Hall, regional government agencies and environmental groups at a discussion convened by the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury Association. The meeting, held at the San Francisco Public Library’s main branch, was moderated by Michael Stoll, executive director of the Public Press.

#PublicPressLive: San Francisco for Democracy Talks Gentrification, Mission Fires

This year, the Public Press is visiting San Francisco neighborhood and community groups to talk about civic issues that are overlooked in the press. Executive Director Michael Stoll spoke with members of San Francisco for Democracy on June 29. Members discussed gentrification, the spate of fires in the Mission District, lost law enforcement weapons and the role of community groups in San Francisco. Member Jeff Whittington wondered about the number of empty investment properties in the city. 
“How many are just things that are being built for people who will never live there, but want to put their money into housing in San Francisco?” 
Hear more from San Francisco for Democracy members below. 

Photography and videography by Hye-Jin Kim. Video edited by Hyunha Kim. 

#PublicPressLive: SF Green Party Talks Candidate Debates, Privatizing the Post Office

This year, the Public Press is visiting San Francisco neighborhood and community groups to talk about civic issues that are overlooked in the press. Executive Director Michael Stoll spoke with members of the San Francisco Green Party on May 25. Member Barry Hermanson — a Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives — talked about the lack of candidate debates in the 12th congressional district. He says there have been no candidate debates or forums since 1987, when Rep. Nancy Pelosi was first elected. “By God, this is San Francisco!” Hermanson said.

#PublicPressLive: San Francisco’s FDR Democratic Club Talks Disability Issues

This year, the Public Press is visiting San Francisco neighborhood and community groups to talk about San Francisco civic issues that are overlooked in the press. Publisher Lila LaHood visited the FDR Democratic Club on June 1. Members discussed how data-driven policy-making impacts people with disabilities, who sometimes are not reflected in official recordkeeping. They also spoke about the death of Thu Phan, a disability rights advocate who used a wheelchair. Phan was killed in a traffic accident on Market Street in February. 
Member John Alex Lowell said he believed there was a flaw in how the city’s Vision Zero program counted traffic fatalities.

The Public Press Is Going on the Road — Where Should We Go?

“San Francisco, Downtown,” by Flickr user Davide D’Amico. Used under CC license. Earlier this year, the Public Press received an INNovation Fund grant from Institute for Nonprofit News and the Knight Foundation to forge new relationships with community groups. Building on the success of our past outreach programs, which focused on in-person conversation on the street, this spring we hope to connect with neighborhood leaders where they already are. In short presentations to at least 40 neighborhood, professional, religious and political groups, we plan to host discussions about San Francisco civic issues that are often overlooked in the press and on broadcast news.

San Francisco Public Press Investigations Win Regional Honors

Two San Francisco Public Press investigations received 2015 Excellence in Journalism Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter. “Creative Solutions to San Francisco’s Housing Crisis,” the Public Press’s summer 2014 cover story exploring nine answers to the city’s housing woes, received the Explanatory Journalism Award in the print/text small division. Judges praised the investigation’s “exceptional effort” in researching potential solutions, noting the Public Press’s crowdsourcing summit — “Hack the Housing Crisis” — inspired many of the report’s ideas. Winter 2015 cover story “Choice is Resegregating Public Schools” received the Investigative Journalism Award in the print/text small division. The sweeping, data-driven inquiry into the increasing racial segregation in San Francisco public schools sparked broad media and civic discussion.