Evaluating print and broadcast news in the San Francisco Bay Area from A to F.
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A note to readers

We're broke, but not done

GradeTheNews.org will run out of funds at the end of February.

The site will not go dark, however. The two of us, as well as three dedicated interns, will keep it going, in some capacity, on a volunteer basis.

Still to come are two major analyses of Bay Area news media, including our annual report card detailing which of the region's most popular news media best served the public in 2005.

Grade the News began as an effort to counter the increasing commodification of news by helping consumers "vote" with their subscriptions and station choices for the news they need, rather than what media corporations could seduce them to want. Our hope has been to make substance pay as well or better than schlock.

With a minimal budget we've accomplished a great deal in just five years of operation. We're proud that we were able to expose some ethical problems in Bay Area news, and many of them have been favorably resolved. We're delighted that many students and citizens have used our news scorecards and analyses as a tool for thinking critically about the media.

At the same time, however, market pressures for higher profits – particularly from investors – are intensifying. The proposed sale of Knight Ridder is exhibit A. Alas, the need for an advocate for journalism that builds civic capital is growing.

We're deeply grateful for the contributions we've received from the Ford Foundation, our current funder; the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, which gave us our start and sustained us over several bumps; and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We are in debt to KTEH public television in San Jose for launching us, to Stanford University and its Communication Department for allowing us to expand, and San Jose State University and its School of Journalism and Mass Communications for helping us reach the next level.

And we'd also like to thank Lou Alexander whose blog has kept us up to speed on the potential Knight Ridder sale, those who wrote commentaries, the tipsters in newsrooms who have helped us do our reporting, the dozens of collaborating schools and media-reform organizations, the hundreds of correspondents.

Finally, we'd like to thank you -- the readers who have made Grade the News such a valuable experience.

We're still hoping for an eleventh hour reprieve. If you'd like to help, or know potential funders, we'd like to hear from you.


John McManus, project director (jmcmanus AT gradethenews.org)

Michael Stoll, associate director (mstoll AT gradethenews.org)

What do you think? Discuss it in The Coffeehouse.


A project of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University, Grade the News is affiliated with the Graduate Program in Journalism at Stanford University and KTEH, public television in Silicon Valley.

Monitoring the Bay Area's most popular news media:

Contra Costa Times

Knight Ridder

San Francisco Chronicle


San Jose Mercury News

Knight Ridder

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KRON, San Francisco

KRON, San Francisco

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)


Bay Area media advocates:

Media Alliance
Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism at SFSU
Maynard Institute
Youth Media Council
Project Censored
New California Media
Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter
National Writers Union Bay Area chapter

Site highlights


The three-part series follows the rise of three Bay Area handouts:
• Part 1: At free dailies, advertisers sometimes call the shots
• Part 2: Free daily papers: more local but often superficial
• Part 3: Free papers' growth threatens traditional news
• See also: SF Examiner and Independent agree to end payola restaurant reviews
• And: The free tabloid that wasn't: East Bay's aborted Daily Flash


Lou Alexander started a firestorm with his original guest commentary predicting the company would be sold. Several other experts on newspapers have weighed in:
Newspapers can't cut their way back into Wall Street investors' hearts, by Stephen R. Lacy; Alexander responds
Humbler profits won't encourage buyouts, by John Morton; Alexander responds
Newspapers can't maintain monopoly profits because they've lost their monopolies, by Philip Meyer
Knight Ridder in grave jeopardy, by Lou Alexander...


Leakers and plumbers: There's no difference between a good leak and a bad leak? Journalists need a shield law. 11/22/05
Unintended consequences: How Craigslist and similar services are sucking revenue from faltering newspapers. 9/13/05
Is CPB irrelevant? As Congress moves to cut public broadcasting funds, has CPB become obsolete in the modern marketplace. 6/26/05
The paradox of news: There's more news available and its cheaper than ever before, but fewer young people are interested. 5/12/05


Most recent updatesHow the Bay Area's most popular media stack up.Talk about Bay Area journalism in our on-line discussion forum. A printable news scorecard you can use at home or in school. Raves and rants aimed at the local media. What would you do if you were the editor? Upcoming happenings and calls for public action. Let 'em know! Contact a local newsroom.Codes of ethics, local media advocates and journalism tools. Tip us off about the local media, or tell us how we're doing.Oops.A comprehensive list of past GTN exclusives.