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About BAO

About BAO

Bay Area Observer is dedicated to independent reporting and selective linkage to San Francisco Bay Area news, media, politics, culture, business, books, technology and other topics. The site went live in July 2010. Its aim is to enlighten, inform and reflect a sense of locale for one of the nation's most diverse, dynamic and beautiful urban areas.

About the Editor
Ron Russell produces and edits Bay Area Observer. He writes the editor's blog on the home page and is responsible for the website's content. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years. As an independent journalist and former staff writer at SF Weekly for six years he has written extensively about San Francisco and the Bay Area. He is the recipient of numerous local, statewide and national journalism awards. Before coming to San Francisco, he spent 15 years as a newspaper reporter and magazine writer in Los Angeles. As a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, he was part of a team of reporters that earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Before that, he was a reporter and Sunday magazine writer at the Memphis Commercial Appeal. His reportage, including dispatches during a stint in Mexico, has appeared in numerous newspapers. He taught journalism at Santa Monica College for several years and has conducted or participated in panels at UCLA and Cal State Los Angeles. A graduate of UCLA, he also earned a master's degree in Latin American Studies there. He is a former John M. Olin Fellow at the University of Southern California, and holds a master's degree in journalism from what is now the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

More about BAO
Below are answers to some questions about Bay Area Observer. If you don't see what you're looking for, or desire further information, please email the editor

How do I contact BAO?
To send news tips, suggestions, observations, compliments or complaints, please email the editor using the contact form.   

Who is BAO's target audience?
Anyone, really, who's interested in the Bay Area and the people and institutions that make it tick. They include journalists, executives, community leaders, politicians, business people, academics, authors, bloggers, news junkies and opinion-shapers of all sorts.

Why the generally serious tone?
The editor prefers it that way. The expectation is that our readers are intelligent and sophisticated consumers of media. We like to amuse like the next person, but we'll leave the snarky, the juvenile and the inane to those with affection for it. In other words, don't expect to see a tasteless photo of a dead animal in the gutter unless maybe there's a politician standing over it with a handgun.

Where does BAO get its information?
Original reporting, news tips from a wide variety of sources, and reports in other media. For the latter, you'll notice links are provided whenever possible, which is to say most always. Credible and newsworthy tips are always welcomed and encouraged. Credibility and accuracy are of utmost importance. However it comes to us, information received is vetted and verified in the time-honored tradition of responsible journalism.

Does BAO print gossip?
Although the editor enjoys media and political gossip as much as anyone, we're not a gossip sheet, and so readers should expect to see very little of it make its way into print. If it occasionally does, it's because it's newsworthy, non-libelous, from a source or sources who've proven to be reliable and we believe it to be true. In any event, gossip and speculation will always be labeled as such.

If I provide information anonymously, how do I know that you will protect my confidentiality?
Protecting the confidentiality of sources is the bedrock of any reporter's credibility and it's something that the editor has done unerringly for more than 25 years. If you have information to share and wish to remain anonymous, please know that your privacy will be protected by all legal means available.

Is BAO a media watchdog?
No. We're here partly to report on Bay Area media and the people who work in it, not to critique it. That said, when we see something amusing or just plain dopey, we won't hesitate to point it out.

Does BAO have a political tilt?
No. The editor is an equal opportunity muckraker, happy to call out the foibles, eccentricities and outrages of those in public life without regard to political party or philosophy. Honesty and fairness rule. If you see one of your favorites seem to take a hit, stick around. The door will likely swing the other way soon enough.

Why do you link to the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times?
Because much of what happens that's important in San Francisco and the Bay Area ends up on the state or national stage, for one thing. For another, it's instructive (and sometimes inadvertently humorous) to see how others interpret what goes on here for outsiders. But mainly it's because each newspaper at various times offers compelling, informative reporting of what's happening here.

How are errors handled?
We correct factual errors quickly and transparently. We fix typos, misspellings and typographical missalignments as soon as we catch them. If the mistake is more substantial, we flag it so that the reader knows a change was made. If you spot what you believe is an error, please contact the editor.

If I see an asterisk in a post’s headline, like this [*], what does it mean?
It means the entry has been significantly updated, something that helps readers who come back to the site throughout the day. You won't see the [*] for posts that are re-worded for clarity, accuracy or grammar in the first few minutes after a post goes up.

What happened to reader comments?
Unfortunately, moderating comments for spam became a bit too labor intensive. They could return, but for now comments are on hiatus. 

How do I get my Bay Area blog or website listed in the links?
Just ask. Send an email to the editor. If it informs or entertains our readers, we'll be glad to list it as long as it's regularly updated. If it's racist, sexist or otherwise offensive, we'll pass. Similarly, if you're scrolling the links and notice what you believe is a glaring omission, please let us know.

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