SAN FRANCISCO — As the editor in chief of The San Francisco Chronicle, Audrey Cooper has overseen countless stories on homelessness. But the issue became personal three years ago when she was pushing her 6-month-old child in a stroller through the city’s business district. A homeless couple in a tent on the sidewalk were having sex, tent flaps open, as their pit bull stood guard.
Ms. Cooper expressed her outrage loudly and in colorful language.
“I probably shouldn’t have started yelling at them,” she said in an interview in her fishbowl office in the heart of the Chronicle’s newsroom. “They let their dog loose.”
San Francisco residents have over decades become inured to encounters with the city’s homeless population, the clumps of humanity sleeping on sidewalks under coats and makeshift blankets, or drug addicts shooting up in full view of pedestrians. There are also the tension-filled but common scenes of mentally ill men and women stumbling down streets, arguing with imaginary enemies or harassing passers-by.
One particularly vocal group of residents, San Francisco’s journalists, say they feel a sense of urgency in addressing the problem. They are banding together in an exasperated, but as yet vaguely defined, attempt to spur the city into action.
Next month, media organizations in the Bay Area are planning to put aside their rivalries and competitive instincts for a day of coordinated coverage on the homeless crisis in the city. The Chronicle, which is leading the effort, is dispensing with traditional news article formats and will put forward possible solutions to the seemingly intractable plight of around 6,000 people without shelter.
Representatives from Bay Area television and radio stations, The Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, Mother Jones and online publications, among others, met last month to figure out a plan to share resources and content. They agreed to publish their reports on homelessness on June 29.
“We want the full force of the Fourth Estate to bear down on this problem,” he added.
Thirty news organizations have confirmed their participation. KQED, a public television and radio station, is also taking a lead role in the campaign.
The premise of the effort is to create a “wave” of coverage that will force politicians to come up with solutions, Ms. Cooper said.
“You will not be able to log onto Facebook, turn on the radio, watch TV, read a newspaper, log onto Twitter without seeing a story about the causes and solutions to homelessness,” she said.
At a time of tight budgets, collaboration has become increasingly common in the news business. This year’s Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism was won by a combined team from The Tampa Bay Times and The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida. Still, the San Francisco collaboration stands out for the number of organizations involved and, in the case of The Chronicle, the emphasis on proposing solutions.
Ms. Cooper said The Chronicle will run a week of coverage, including four articles that she described as something akin to a science project: putting forth a hypothesized solution and investigating it. The first proposal is that the city build a mental health center large enough to treat the mentally ill on the streets. The article will explore the cost and the feasibility of institutionalizing people.
“We need to be a hell of a lot more creative about how we solve this problem,” Ms. Cooper said. “And we are probably going to have to break some dishes to do it.” The paper’s articles and photographs will be offered free to all participants. The paper will also run a front-page editorial with its conclusions on what solutions should be pursued.
Advocacy is a longstanding taboo in American journalism, making reporters and editors wary of discussing solutions to the problems they highlight in their coverage. One rationale for this is that journalists who advocate causes might be selective in their reporting or biased in their coverage.
In a city known for its liberal traditions, the question of whether San Francisco’s journalists are crossing into activism has not come up, at least not in the initial meeting of news organizations last month.
“It was sort of shocking that there was no dissension,” said Holly Kernan, the executive editor for news at KQED, the public broadcaster that hosted the meeting. “On the contrary, the conversation was, ‘Let’s do way more.’”
Ms. Kernan said her station plans “blanket” coverage on June 29, but will not propose solutions. “I see what we are doing as pure journalism,” Ms. Kernan said.
Aaron Pero, news director of KRON-TV, a Bay Area television news station, said he planned to have a report on homelessness each day for a week, possibly profiles of homeless people.
“I wasn’t going to try to figure out how to solve the homeless problem,” Mr. Pero said. “My vision was to send a number of reporters out and to find a profile that we could do every single day.”
Mr. Pero said it was “really awesome that all these media outlets are coming together.”
“I don’t think it’s been done anywhere else,” he added.
Only one local outlet, KCBS, a news radio station, declined to participate.
“It’s not because of any lack of interest in the homeless or any perception that the story is unimportant to our listeners,” Jack Swanson, the director of news and programming at KCBS, said in an email. “Like many media outlets in the Bay Area we cover the homeless situation in our communities and will continue to cover it, on a regular basis.”
(A New York Times reporter also attended the meeting. While The Times is not participating in the coordinated coverage, it has and will continue to cover homelessness as a major issue in the city.)
Proponents of solutions-oriented journalism are applauding the initiative.
Andrew Donohue, a senior editor at the Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit organization that partners with other media on reporting projects, said the single-minded, muckraking focus of some journalism has made the public more cynical. “There’s outrage fatigue,” Mr. Donohue said. “You can very easily leave people feeling helpless, which can then lead to being disengaged.”
Courtney Martin, a founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates journalism that covers solutions to social problems, said she was thrilled to hear of the San Francisco project.
“This is the kind of thing that is music to our ears,” Ms. Martin said. “We have this bias in the media to think that our only job is the watchdog role.”
A journalist’s job, she said, “is not to pick a winner.”
“Your job is to investigate solutions,” she said. “People want to read about how to fix broken systems.”
High tech Companies!
Our students would be honored and delighted if you could welcome us and be part of this American Dream.
An immersive adventure into the heart of the technological business world.
An unforgettable unique tailor-made educational tour to one of the world’s most famous innovative, high-tech hub, Silicon Valley.
Name of the Structure: UFA ROBERT SCHUMAN. Dugny, France
Presentation of the project: Educational trip from 18 to 26 April 2016 for 18 two-year bachelor degree apprentices in Information technology.
Silicon Valley is home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations including Apple, Google, Ebay, Facebook, as well as thousands of small start-ups, making it one of the best destinations for our Computer Science students to explore! The Silicon Valley is a must do school trip for schools who want to help inspire the next generation of programmers, computer experts, coders…
This trip will offer a chance to see real business in action—in a place that has become home to some of the world’s largest corporations: software giants, high-tech startups, and more.
During this educational trip to San Francisco, our students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in one of the most dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem, the Silicon Valley
This trip is a unique and rich experience where the apprentices will develop their skills in English and will learn how to evolve in a new cultural environment.
During these visits different topics could be
- Tour companies will focus on face-to-face interactions with representatives at site visits to incubators, startup companies, and educational institutions like Stanford University, Berkeley University.
- Meet with entrepreneurs and innovators
- Talk with people who are leaders in their field
- Gain firsthand experience of the enterprises that are revolutionizing global business
During our trip, we’ll be posting daily summaries which will include impressions from students
We look forward to hearing from you.
Projet de mobilité Californie Silicon Valley du 18 au 26 avril 2016 à destination de 22 apprentis de BTS SIO (services informatiques aux organisations) 2° année.
Contexte de mise en œuvre : Voyage d’Etude en Californie, Silicon Valley
A l’heure de la mondialisation, il est devenu incontournable pour l’étudiant de maîtriser parfaitement l’anglais, de développer sa compétence interculturelle ainsi que d’élargir sa vision du monde en s’immergeant dans une nouvelle culture.
Une plongée au cœur de la Silicon Valley…
En 1939, dans un simple garage de Palo Alto, naissait la SiliconValley. Les innovations qui ont suivies dans les domaines de la défense, des micro-processeurs, des ordinateurs puis d’internet ont fait de cette région la capitale mondiale de l’innovation.
La Silicon Valley est « the place to be » lorsque l’on parle de technologies et d’innovations. Dans ce monde surconnecté et ce marché ultra disputé, mieux vaut être le premier à avoir LA bonne idée
Ce voyage d’étude à San Francisco, à la découverte de la Silicon Valley et de son écosystème, permettra aux apprentis de découvrir une région au travers d’un programme de visites d’entreprises conçu en lien avec le domaine d’étude, comment Apple, Facebook, Google, Cisco mais également des entrepreneurs français installés à San Francisco qui ont construit leur succès.
Ce séjour constitue une expérience riche et unique lors de laquelle l’apprenti développera ses compétences en anglais et apprendra à évoluer dans un nouvel environnement culturel.
En trois quarts de siècles, de très nombreux français ont fait le chemin vers l’ouest américain. Dans la baie de San Francisco plus de 60 000 français forment aujourd’hui la plus grosse communauté européenne de la région.
Ils sont des milliers de français à avoir tenté l’aventure californienne. Echecs fracassants et succès fulgurants, la culture entrepreneuriale à l’américaine détonne dans un monde où le numérique est roi. Rencontrer ces entrepreneurs français établis en Silicon Valley et repartir avec les « best practices » du moment. Vivre une expérience inoubliable d’apprentissage et de partage.
Blog des étudiants (en construction) : https://siliconvalleyproject.wordpress.com/