Bay Area news start-up signs deal with NY Times

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The Bay Area News Project backed by San Francisco philanthropist Warren Hellman has forged a new alliance with the New York Times, the project announced today. The nonprofit news entity is to be helmed by C.E.O. Lisa Frasier, a McKinsey & Co. consultant who has been involved in planning the project since April 2009, and Executive Editor Jonathan Weber, founder and c.e.o. of New West, the Montana-based new media enterprise. The c.e.o. appointment, confirmed last weekend, was reported to have been a point of departure for San Francisco’s KQED, which was dropped as a founding partner in the news project after several months of involvement. President Jeff Clarke told Current that the news project opted to sever formal ties with KQED in late December. Hellman informed Clarke that the pubcaster was seen as “such a force” in the Bay Area media landscape that its participation hinders the nonprofit start-up as it tries to establish itself as an independent news organization. “I respect the decision but was a little surprised by it,” Clarke said. KQED still hopes to collaborate with the news project on editorial matters; Weber, a co-founder and editor of the defunct San Francisco-based Industry Standard that chronicled the dot-com boom, is highly regarded within KQED’s newsroom, according to an insider who requested anonymity. And it appears the feeling is mutual. Weber told Current he intends to explore an editorial relationship with KQED. “I was not involved in the collaboration prior to the holidays,” he said. “KQED has great talent and assets, and I’d like to see how we can work together.”