The opportunities that lie ahead for everyone at the Center for Investigative Reporting are energizing and exciting. And the challenges are daunting.

Our merger with The Bay Citizen announced today puts us in a unique position as journalists, innovators, technologists and, yes, entrepreneurs. I worked in newspapers for decades, starting as a copy boy and ending up as the top editor. No one ever strung those four words together to describe what we were as an organization.

But to survive, thrive and evolve, the journalism, the innovation, the technology and the entrepreneurial vision all have to be intertwined in the new model.

CIR as an organization is driven by creativity, passion, teamwork, candor and an understanding that the basis of our value and credibility will always grow from the journalism.

That will not change. When I came to CIR in January 2008, we had a staff of seven. We launched California Watch in September 2009. At the beginning of 2012, CIR and California Watch had a combined staff of 40. With the merger, we will have a staff of 70.

We will be an organization in which those who understand the power of technology and have the ability to tell stories and reach audiences in new and different ways will exist in a symbiosis with the journalists.

The accelerating age of technology that we live in is creating forces that demand that you change, adjust, pivot and move with alacrity. Harnessed appropriately, technology is liberating, and at CIR, it will be in alignment with the journalism and all of our strategies. That is tremendously exciting, and in a small but growing organization, creating and forging that culture of symbiosis is easier than in a larger organization where practices tied to the past are deeply rooted.

With the addition of The Bay Citizen, we will have the ability with a good portion of our staff to focus on a local market, the Bay Area, and also have the staff and infrastructure to implement and manage strategies for sustainability, audience growth, engagement and membership around our work that can help us create a model that can be emulated elsewhere.

Adding The Bay Citizen’s staff, skills and resources and ensuring that we are all working toward the same goals will not be easy. But it will be essential. When I joined CIR, it was clear that risk-taking, vision and fresh ideas come from the gut as much as from the brain.

That doesn’t mean that the process isn’t without fear. Leadership is about weighing risks and making decisions that are best for the organization, its staff and, in our case, the public we serve.

Today is a day I never envisioned even six months ago. We know there are difficulties and challenges ahead for all of us here at CIR. We are thrilled to join with The Bay Citizen. Together, we will be an organization in which everyone has value, is invested in our future, and feels pride in who we are and in our work.

Journalism and investigative reporting, the role of the press, is crucial to democracy.

We intend to hold on to and cherish the highest standards of journalism and build an even stronger foundation for the future.

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Robert J. Rosenthal is the chief executive officer at The Center for Investigative Reporting. Rosenthal was the executive director of CIR from January 2008 to spring 2017. When he joined CIR, it had a staff of seven and when he left, it had a staff of nearly 70 and was recognized as one of the leading nonprofit newsrooms in the country. He is an award-winning journalist and worked for some of the most respected newspapers in the country, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenthal worked for 22 years at The Inquirer, starting as a reporter and eventually becoming its executive editor in 1998. He became managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle in late 2002 and left in 2007. During this time, he led the investigation into the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. That work became known as the award-winning Chauncey Bailey Project. Before joining The Inquirer in 1979, Rosenthal worked for six years as a reporter at The Boston Globe and three and a half years at The New York Times, where he was a news assistant on the foreign desk and an editorial assistant on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pentagon Papers project. As a reporter, Rosenthal won numerous awards, including the Overseas Press Club Award for magazine writing, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for distinguished foreign correspondence and the National Association of Black Journalists Award for Third World reporting. He was a Pulitzer finalist in international reporting and was a Pulitzer judge four times. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Rosenthal is also currently advising or on the board of multiple journalism nonprofits. In 2018, Rosenthal was named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists for his “extraordinary contribution to the profession of journalism.”