San Francisco Public Press started online, now it turns to print

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Public Press will do something that few Web-based news outlets have done before: go to print. The Press, a nonprofit news source that started covering local issues online in 2009, will release a full 20-page main section with an eight-page pullout – bucking a national trend whereby startup, nonprofit news Web sites sprout online and stay in cyberspace. Although Tuesday’s issue will be the Press’ last for several months, Michael Stoll, the outlet’s executive director, says that if the demand is there, he would eventually like to print daily. This “backward” move from the Web to potential daily print has surprised many, Stoll says. Yet such evangelism has dampened innovation in a sector Stoll says is still very much alive, still serving as a vital digital bridge for those with limited Internet access or ability. The San Francisco Public Press, funded by a combination of subscribers, philanthropists and foundations, will not feature advertisements. But Stoll says he hopes that the 8,000 paper copies available Tuesday will serve as a means of attracting more subscribers. He characterizes the Press as “grassroots,” driven by local journalists of various experience levels frustrated by what they see as diminished Bay Area news coverage. Tuesday’s issue will feature about 70 new stories covering issues ranging from Treasure Island to the city’s recent debate over sitting on public sidewalks. Although the paper will not have an editorial section, Stoll says several opinion pieces will be scattered throughout the paper. Founded in November 2007, the Press has relied mostly on an intermittent team of about 100 unpaid volunteers to deliver local news.


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