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WSJ catches up with Bay Citizen-CIR merger talks

Thursday, February 16, 2012

imageThe Wall Street Journal devotes a chunk of its Bay Area zone pages today to the Bay Citizen-Center for Investigative Reporting merger. Whether TBC will continue, post merger, to produce Bay Area coverage for the New York Times—which, of course, competes with WSJ’s own efforts—remains unknown.

Add: Reporter Stu Woo touches on tensions at the Bay Citizen after staffers decided to unionize last year, plus head-butting between high-priced founding editor Jonathan Weber ($261,000) and former CEO Lisa Frazier ($457,000) before each jumped ship:

Current and former staffers say tensions ratcheted up last summer during a unionizing bid that strained relationships between reporters and managers. In July, the organization’s editorial staffers joined the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Journalists at the Center for Investigative Reporting aren’t unionized.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Ms. Frazier and Mr. Weber frayed, current and former staffers say. These people say Mr. Weber felt the editorial side, rather than the business side, should have had oversight over the Bay Citizen’s website design and data-journalism projects, such as an interactive map tracking bicycle accidents in the Bay Area.

Also: As he notes, the big event that rocked the Bay Citizen was the untimely death in December of founder and angel investor Warren Hellman.

Related: Even as the Bay Citizen prepares to hand itself over to CIR, with former Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein in the executive chairman’s role, CIR received good news yesterday: the MacArthur Foundation just awarded it $1 million.

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