Public Press and McSweeney’s seeking public’s support on Bay Bridge investigative report

UPDATE 10/22/09: Read Bay Bridge project reporter Patricia Decker’s blog post on what it means to go deep on a big story: "Keeping bias at bay in investigative journalism."

UDPATE 10/27/09: With matching funds, we’re already halfway to our goal for paying reporters and expenses: "An update for the Bay Bridge investigation with McSweeney’s"

The Public Press is partnering with McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, a San Francisco-based literary magazine, to investigate the multibillion-dollar reconstruction and retrofit of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

And we need your support.

Our reporters have been digging up documents for close to two months on the massive construction project, one of the most challenging, costly and complex bridge projects in U.S. history, and have found some surprising new facts about how and why the costs, currently projected at $6.3 billion, continue to rise.

This kind of reporting is expensive. We estimate our own costs to run to about $10,000 for reporting so far and follow-ups throughout 2010.

The story is going to appear in the next edition of McSweeney’s, which publisher Dave Eggers is planning to distribute as a print newspaper called the San Francisco Panorama. The Public Press is going to publish the stories on the Web at, along with supporting documents, graphics, photographs and a historical timeline.

We’re asking the public to pitch in to help pay for this reporting, which is being done on their behalf. McSweeney’s has agreed to match contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000 for any donations made through, a Bay Area start-up devoted to independent journalism and funded by the Knight Foundation.

The Public Press Bay Bridge project is being conducted by Patricia Decker, an engineering graduate of the University of California Berkeley, and Bob Porterfield, a long-time Bay Area journalist and journalism educator. They are being assisted by Richard Pestorich, Michael Winter, Andrew Bertolina, and Michael Stoll.

The team has been reading through thousands of pages of public documents. The documents and other expenses have already racked up to hundreds of dollars and are expected to run higher.

We’re confident that we’re going to have a unique and compelling story to tell that few news organizations have bothered to pursue. And it’s going to be published by two small organizations that don’t have industrial-scale financial support behind them. 

So won’t you consider helping out? Donate now!

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