Powerful Patrons Bankroll Silicon Valley Newsgathering Startups

As advertising plays a diminishing role in the media business, a growing number of news outlets are trying to get by on some blend of paywalls, donations and auxiliary revenue.

San Jose Spotlight, the prolific hyperlocal website launched last month by former Merc reporter Ramona Giwargis, took the non-profit route. With help from her husband, Josh Barousse, she cobbled together support from a union-aligned cast, including Santa Clara County deputy county exec Steve Preminger and South Bay Labor Council’s Ben Field, Working Partnerships USA executive Derecka Mehrens and former WPUSAer Bob Brownstein.

Just this week, another local watchdog unveiled a newsgathering project bankrolled by a wealthy patron with mutual enemies and an ax to grind.

Susan Bassi—whose bitter divorce battle turned her into one of the fiercest critics of the judicial branch writ large and District Attorney Jeff Rosen in particular—announced this week that she’s teaming up with businessman Clyde Berg on a journalism venture focused on investigating the local family courts and the cottage industry that feeds off of Silicon Valley’s notoriously contentious divorce cases.

Berg’s interest in Bassi’s mission stems from his own foray into the legal system when the centi-millionaire’s much-younger ex-wife accused him of sex crimes involving guns, golf putters and dog collars. By the time a judge deemed her claims an elaborate hoax, the ordeal cost Berg millions in legal fees, two years defending against criminal prosecution and irreparable harm to his otherwise uneventful reputation.

In her press release unveiling Berg’s patronage, Bassi promised to dive deep into California’s “family courts and law enforcement agencies dealing with intimate partner violence, sexual assault and false claims made during divorce and custody cases.”

Why? Because Silicon Valley can afford to pay for journalism, she wrote, and because “justice is never served when the media isn’t watching.”

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10 Comments

  1. If the commenter on this site is the same Susan Bassi, she sounds like a loon.

    Might as well align with the villainous former Murky Gnus Editor Barbara Marshman and start (another) fake news site.

  2. The usual suspects. I remember the ignominious San Jose Revealed, backed by the same labor group. Then the Left Hook. They are angling for 2020 and 2022. Their plan is to install Raul as mayor, put Cortese in the Senate, get Cindy to Congress, make sure Google goes elsewhere and drive up the cost of housing for everyone but the homeless and mentally ill, who will be concentrated in neighborhood-destroying, Measure A-funded public housing projects for non-working people. Ramona is an unwitting stooge they recruited. An ambitious careerist, she is the perfect labor asset, bereft of journalistic credibility, who will embed Labor Council talking points and lobbyist-written stories behind the veneer of news.

  3. > San Jose Spotlight, the prolific hyperlocal website launched last month by former Merc reporter Ramona Giwargis, . . . she cobbled together support from a union-aligned cast, including Santa Clara County deputy county exec Steve Preminger and South Bay Labor Council’s Ben Field, Working Partnerships USA executive Derecka Mehrens and former WPUSAer Bob Brownstein.

    A news mash-up of the readerless Murk and the “it’s-all-about-us” unions?

    What could possibly go wrong?

    “Breaking news! Government workers need bigger pensions! New taxes called for!”

    As brain dead as California has become, I find it hard to believe that we’ve reached the point where we need an all-spam news site.

  4. Ramona was a very junior reporter squeezed out of the Mercury News for having fact problems and Josh has a history of illegal campaign finance violations. They’ve now teamed up with an unethical cast of characters, including a criminally indicted ex-mayor who avoided being re-prosecuted because deposed DA Dolores Carr was labor-compromised and didn’t pursue the garbage deal rigging and lying charges that George Kennedy’s prosecutors and the Grand Jury documented.

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/11/03/former-san-jose-council-candidate-city-hall-staffer-faces-ethics-probe/

  5. > By the time a judge deemed her claims an elaborate hoax, the ordeal cost Berg millions in legal fees, two years defending against criminal prosecution and irreparable harm to his otherwise uneventful reputation.

    WOW!

    The “elaborate hoax” reference is a cautionary warning about the victimization of men in a legal system that rewards tribal warfare against “the rich”, the productive, and the masculine.

    https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2015/01/16/silicon-valley-millionaire-clyde-berg-found-factually-innocent-sex-abuse-of-wife/

    “Silicon Valley millionaire Clyde Berg found ‘factually innocent’ sex abuse of wife”

  6. Berg and Bassi may have “an ax to grind,” but they are doing a public service. They have been active on social media for at least a year, and have already exposed a variety of misconduct in Silicon Valley courts and law enforcement agencies, especially in the office of District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

    There is a shocking level of cronyism and nepotism in the Santa Clara County public and private legal community. For example, Rosen’s wife is a family court judge. Will Rosen embarrass his wife by prosecuting the crimes we know are being committed by some divorce lawyers? Crimes that family court judges ignore?

    What Berg and Bassi are doing is investigative reporting and advocacy journalism. “[Investigative reporters] are often claimed as the professional ancestors of modern advocacy journalists; for example: Nellie Bly, Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair, George Seldes, and I.F. Stone,” according to the Wikipedia description of advocacy journalism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advocacy_journalism

    If they can drain the Silicon Valley swamp occupied by the inbred cabal of unethical lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, good for them. They have a lot of cheerleaders.

    • > There is a shocking level of cronyism and nepotism in the Santa Clara County public and private legal community. For example, Rosen’s wife is a family court judge.

      Unless I’m mistaken, judges are elected. How can that fit the criteria of neopotism if they’re not there by being appointed?

      • Mr. Cortese, you are mistaken. Mr. Rosen’s wife, Amber Rosen, was appointed. In fact, that is criminal judge, Sharon Chatman, swearing Jeff Rosen in. But no conflict here. Chatman is just the judge presiding over the case . Mr. Rosen has assigned DDA Filo and Rich to prosecute a journalist who video recorded police misconduct in a court file room. That is right, two prosecutors for a two week trial, prosecuting a journalist for taking photos in the family courthouse computer room where public records are stored on computers. But hey, Judge Lucas says we don’t have to worry about conflicts because she assigned Judge Rosen to the family courthouse, not the criminal court. Guess all that taxpayer money is safe after all. Minus the $105 million the family courthouse lost the first year it was opened to give local residents all that access to justice.
        https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/22/governor-appoints-da-jeff-rosens-wife-to-local-bench/

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