Center for Investigative Reporting, Bay Citizen Merge

Two San Francisco Bay-area news operations, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Bay Citizen, join forces

The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Bay Area News Project, which operates the Bay Citizen, announced Tuesday that they are merging operations.

The merger of the two news forces will create the nation’s largest nonprofit organization focused on investigative and accountability reporting.

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“We are bringing together two Bay Area enterprises with very complementary strengths,” said Phil Bronstein (photo, left), who will serve as executive board chairman of the unified operation. “They are both devoted to protecting justice and democracy through great, engaging journalism.”

Jeff Ubben, current chairman of the Bay Citizen board of directors, and the family of the Bay Citizen founder Warren Hellman will together commit more than $4 million to the merged entity.

The organization will have a budget of $10.5 million in 2012 and a staff of about 70. Mark Katches will serve as editorial director, Sharon Tiller will lead the digital team, and Chase Davis will oversee the expanded news technology team. A chief strategy officer, in charge of new revenue streams, products and network strategy, will be named soon. 

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“We’re confident that the merged organization will create energy and innovation around unique storytelling, audience engagement and sustainability," said Robert J. Rosenthal, executive director of CIR, who will continue to serve in that capacity. "Our goal is to evolve a successful model for ourselves and for journalism.”

Over the past three years, CIR has undergone substantial growth, transforming from a small nonprofit into one of the largest investigative reporting teams in the country. CIR recently won the 2012 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, the 2011 George Polk Award and the 2011 Scripps Howard Award for public service.

The Bay Citizen was founded in 2010 to serve the Bay Area with independent civic and cultural journalism. Recent awards include the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.

The proposed merger now awaits review by the California Attorney General. Operations of the two organizations will remain independent until the merger is finalized. 

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the merger of the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Bay Citizen was just a memorandum of understanding and not yet complete. TheWrap regrets the error.