Local News Matters: Origins of Bay City News

The San Francisco Bay Area is a fascinating, complex and innovative place, full of diverse people, institutions and stories. Bay City News Foundation was established to help fill the gaps in coverage that have emerged in the region and work with others to create, publish and distribute those stories.

Join us in this important mission.

BCN Leadership

Bay City News Foundation was founded by journalist Katherine Ann Rowlands. 

A Berkeley native, Kat held top editing and management roles at the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News and San Luis Obispo Tribune. She also worked as an overseas correspondent in Holland and Honduras, was Editor in Chief of Diablo Magazine and taught journalism at California State University East Bay. She was president of the Journalism & Women Symposium from 2011-2013 and a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University in 2017, when she worked on projects to empower women in journalism and bolster regional news gathering in the Bay Area. She studied at Macalester College, London School of Economics, and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Her first journalism job was as a college reporting intern at Bay City News Service and she went on to work every shift, every beat and every job up to managing editor. She bought the company in 2018 and established the foundation soon after.

Photo by Cali Godley

Bay City News Foundation is growing quickly.

Milestones from 2018, our first year:

~ Raised $115,000 from about 100 small and sustaining donors

~ Launched LocalNewsMatters.org as a non-profit, ad-free site for consumers with community news, data reporting, projects, features and partnerships with other non-profit media, including CALmatters and EdSource

~ Published more than 300 stories with fresh items posted daily

~ Provided coverage of specialized topics such as environment, health, demographics, business, education, arts and entertainment, and statehouse news

~ Created a network of freelance reporters, providing work for journalists who might not otherwise have outlets for their work

~ Created a paid internship program, especially for women and people of color who are not well represented in newsrooms

~ Experimented with crowdsourcing to support local news coverage

Goals in 2019 and beyond:

~ More than double our annual budget to $240,000 through individual and institutional donors

~ Partner with a crowdfunding and micro-subscription tool to increase revenue

~ Create a membership plan to gather ongoing revenue and engagement

~ Expand our network of freelance reporters and editors to provide more news coverage

~ Develop new storytelling platforms involving maps, photos, videos, data sets and data visualizations

~ Partner with community and neighborhood information platforms to distribute neighborhood news to consumers

~ Pursue collaborative reporting projects to expand distribution of important journalism about housing, income inequality, immigration, health care, the environment and culture

BCN Board of Directors

Katherine Ann Rowlands has worked as a journalist for 30 years, covering news in the Bay Area, Central California and overseas. As a 2016-17 JSK Fellow at Stanford University, she focused her research on how to overcome gender disparities in newsrooms, especially in leadership positions, and to bolster local news coverage in the Bay Area. Before launching Bay City News Foundation, she was an editor for the Mercury News and Bay Area News Group, directing coverage of business and technology in Silicon Valley. She also worked as East Bay Metro Editor, overseeing local and regional news coverage for Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and State and Regional Editor for the newspaper group. Before that she was Business Editor for the San Luis Obispo Tribune and spent four years as a correspondent in Honduras. A Berkeley native, she got her start in journalism as a summer intern for Bay City News Service. She studied at Macalester College, London School of Economics and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Sarah Pollock has had a long career editing, managing publications, and teaching. She has been senior editor at Mother Jones, editor-in-chief at Pacific Discovery (the natural history magazine of the California Academy of Sciences), features editor at the Oakland Tribune, and a staff writer at Newsday and the Hartford Courant. She headed the journalism program at Mills College for many years and she is active nationally around issues of diversity and integrity in journalism. She has served on the boards of the Journalism and Women Symposium, the First Amendment Project, Pelican Media and the Julia Morgan School for Girls. She is a public speaker on topics such as truth and trust in journalism; ethics in creative nonfiction; newsroom values and diversity; and teaching strategies in higher education writing classrooms. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she was managing editor of The Daily Californian.

Ann Grimes is an award-winning, veteran journalist who has held senior editorial positions at The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. As the Journal’s Deputy Bureau Chief in San Francisco, she oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of Silicon Valley during the 1990′s dot-com boom and bust and wrote about technology, venture capital, and entrepreneurship. While at Dow Jones & Co., she also worked on developing new media strategy. At the Post, she served as the Deputy National Editor responsible for coverage of the federal government and ran a national news section that covered the political spectrum. Grimes lectures on media and entrepreneurship at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and is the associate director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation. She also has taught in Stanford’s Department of Communication and at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She was a 1997-1998 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford.

Rob Merker had a successful career starting and operating two real estate-related businesses in New York City and has a strong background in finance. After retiring in 2012, he obtained a doctorate in philosophy with a specialization in ethics from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. His dissertation was on ethical issues in philanthropy, and he currently teaches and speaks on ethical issues and philanthropy.  An accomplished public speaker, he has taught at The University of California Berkeley in the OLLI program; Cal State University East Bay in Hayward; and Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY. Rob has served on numerous not-for-profit boards and also served as treasurer for non-profit organizations. He currently sits on the ethics committee of Kaiser Oakland hospital, and the committees for ethical treatment of human subjects at Cal Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley labs.