The Bay Area News Project Appoints Lisa Frazier as C.E.O. and Jonathan Weber as Editor-In-Chief

Non-profit media organization also announces plans to supply news for Bay Area sections of The New York Times

Jan 21, 2010, 15:12 ET from The Bay Area News Project

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Bay Area News Project, a new nonprofit public media organization based in San Francisco, announced today the names of its two senior leaders, Chief Executive Officer Lisa Frazier and Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Weber.  In conjunction with The New York Times, the media non-profit also announced it will supply news for the Bay Area sections of The Times.

Frazier brings a strong background in business and media to The Bay Area News Project.  She is currently a partner in McKinsey & Company's San Francisco office, where she is a core leader of the Media & Entertainment Practice. Frazier has spent almost nine years advising companies across multiple media industries - including online newspaper, television, and information companies – on issues ranging from growth strategy and operations to marketing and sales.  

Frazier has also had the opportunity to support a number of non-profit organizations, including the New York Fire Department post 9/11 and the Robin Hood Foundation. Currently, she serves on the Board of Governors of The Commonwealth Club, and is an advisory board member to The Texas Tribune and Link TV. She starts in her new role in early February.

Jonathan Weber joins the News Project with more than 20 years of journalism experience and multiple print and online start-ups under his belt. Weber was the co-founder and editor in chief of The Industry Standard, the award-winning, San Francisco-based newsweekly that chronicled the dot-com boom of the late 1990's.  He also spent eight years as writer and editor of the Los Angeles Times, including three years in their San Francisco bureau.  More recently, Weber was the founder and C.E.O. of New West Publishing, a next-generation media company located in Missoula, Montana. The company's flagship product, the award-winning NewWest.Net, is a local and regional online publication about the Rocky Mountain West.

"We considered many extraordinary candidates from across the country for the role of Editor-in-Chief.  The amount of interest we received was remarkable," said Neil Henry, dean of the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and a founding partner and Board member of the News Project.  "Jonathan brings not only traditional journalism experience, but also deep experience with digital media startups and with growing an audience, which will be critical for the success of this new organization."  

Frazier has been involved with the News Project since April 2009, when Warren Hellman sought help to develop a sustainable model for local news in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The News Project team crafted a detailed strategic plan for the new organization and forged critical partnerships with U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and The New York Times.  The News Project's organizers approached Frazier about becoming the CEO of the new organization. "I am deeply passionate about finding a solution to the issues facing local Bay Area journalism and having a positive impact on communities in need of broader coverage," says Frazier. "The News Project team has spent many hours developing a sustainable model for this critical public service. Now we're ready to bring the new media organization to life and hire top editorial talent to create best-in-class news."

"Having a strong business and media background is critical for the C.E.O. of this organization," said Hellman. "Lisa's breadth and depth of experience will give the News Project a real leg up as it innovates a new solution for local journalism. It's a challenging goal that will require a lot of experimentation and risk-taking."  

Frazier and Weber will now be focused on getting the new organization up and running. During the next several months they will be hiring editorial staff, building the website and other platforms, raising additional funds, deciding on the brand, and completing the search for a San Francisco office location.

"Over the next few months my plan is to start building a stellar newsroom to cover Bay Area government and politics, the arts, business, entertainment, community news and other topics," said Weber. "We'll also be working to develop a wide range of partnerships with other media organizations and individuals. Successful collaborations will be one of the keys to our success."  Weber intends to hire at least fifteen full-time journalists by the end of the year.  

The Hellman Family Foundation has provided initial seed funding for the Bay Area News Project; other support has come from the Knight Foundation and community members interested in funding quality journalism for the Bay Area.  Investment banking firm Greenhill & Co., law firm Jones Day, and philanthropic advisory firm Hirsch & Associates, LLC have advised Warren Hellman and his working group on the formation of the entity.

About the Bay Area News Project

The Bay Area News Project is a publicly supported news organization focused on providing high-quality, original coverage of Bay Area civic and community news. The locally produced, professional news organization plans to leverage broad collaborations and new digital technologies to provide Bay Area news that reflects the region's dynamic social and cultural diversity. Coverage will include government and public policy, education, the arts and cultural affairs, the environment, and neighborhood news.  The News Project is currently a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives, a 501(c)(3) organization that enables individuals and groups, working together, to create and invest in projects that benefit the public.

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SOURCE The Bay Area News Project