When Jonathan Weber took the job of editor-in-chief of the Bay Area News Project a few weeks ago, 200 resumes lay waiting for him. I’m sure that some of the more than one hundred job-starved journalists crammed into the “meet Jonathan Weber” event held Wednesday night at the World Affairs Council had resumes on that pile — I know mine’s there — and there was more naked desperation in that room than at a match.com gathering.

Weber’s only getting around to answering his applicants now, sifting through them to find 15 hires, half of whom will be reporting for the news org. Those 7.5 people will be a mix of junior and senior reporters, covering enterprise, big stories, daily news, traditional civic beats, cops and courts, environment and healthcare.

He admits it’s impossible to truly cover all those beats with such a small staff and that some reporters will have to wear multiple hats, but that he hopes to triple their numbers over the next four years.

Other staff will be editors who are “outwardly focused,” coordinating paid contributors, bloggers, and citizen journalists, while editing 40-50 stories per week. A third group will focus on delivery, “productizing” the news through Web and mobile. Weber is also setting aside a “significant budget” for freelancers. And he’ll hire some paid interns.

Management-wise, they’ve just hired Brian Kelley as the chief technology officer (and announced it via twitter, how 3.0).

During Q & A, older journalists’ questions showed anxiety that they wouldn’t be hired because they were too old and not tech-savvy enough. Many younger reporters’ remarks seemed designed to demonstrate that they’re Very Serious About Journalism, betraying a lack of experience.

As for partnerships, you already know that the New York Times is in — starting in June, BANP will produce two of pages twice/week for the Bay Area edition. And KQED is out, after “discussions (that) did not result in an agreement.” AWKward.

While temporarily housed in space provided by a law firm at 555 Mission, BANP is looking for permanent digs somewhere downtown. The $5 million initiative, now under his direction (and allegedly no longer that of its principal funder, Warren Hellman), is slated to launch in late spring of this year. It’s also hoping to lock down a permanent name that doesn’t ruffle the feathers of the 200 locally-based news organizations with San Francisco in their name.

Slideshow from the event: Steve Rhodes

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  • raqcoon

    It seemed like 30 percent of the attendees were old, veteran journalists, the rest middle age and a few youngies. I think it might be OK to hire one oldie, but geez, most of the older folks need to cycle out of journalism, if not the workforce. I can’t see Weber putting old skool reporters on a new media project. Weber, however, is a pretty good mix of old/new skool and for/non-profit. I went in skeptical, but I was actually enthralled with his presentation, that he does have a reasonable vision for this project, or perhaps for the future of journalism in general. A lot of the old die-hards I spoke to didn’t share my optimism. They’re concerned about Hellman’s funding, are not very adaptable, want to continue with old mainstream media ideas, etc. A lot of so-called veteran journalists only recently found out about Twitter/Facebook, like these are new technologies, but Weber, well, he been there, done that, and I don’t think he’ll play that angle. Social networks are nothing new, in fact, blogging started 10+ years ago and socnet in 2002. Socnet is already out of vogue, abandoned by young people and overtaken my middleagers, and proven to be a deceptive form of research and distribution.

    Well, it’s up to Weber/Hellman what to do. They’ll get hundreds, if not thousands of resumes and it was almost disgusting to see so many wannebees licking Weber’s feet at the gathering. People, you cannot seriously think you’ll get hired. Go buy a lotto tick and turn on to some Grateful Dead!