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Meet the new reporters for spring 2010

on February 22, 2010

This spring, Oakland North welcomes a new staff of 13 reporters, all students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Got story ideas? Questions? Complaints? Please drop us a line at

Elise Craig

Elise Craig is a native Northern Californian who started writing at her high school newspaper, The Octagon. After graduating from Georgetown University in 2006, she spent two years as a producer on the breaking news desk of the, then quit her job on the InterWebs to get back to the future of journalism: print. She is a second-year at the UC Berkeley Graduate school of journalism.

Allison Davis

Allison Davis grew up in Baltimore but has never watched the Wire. After fleeing the suburbs for New York City to attend Barnard College, she worked for Jane, Teen Vogue, The New York Times Syndicate, and CNN and was a Senior Writer at The Columbia Eye. Now, as a second year at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, she is focusing on long form magazine writing and cultural criticism—a fancy term for watching too much TV.

BIO_flynnMary Flynn

Originally from Lakewood, WI, I’ve lived (mostly) in the great city of Madison, WI, for the past 8 years. I arrived in Berkeley just before the start of the fall semester, and already I’m learning to love the California sun when it shows its face (especially when we get to point and laugh at fog-enshrouded San Francisco across the bay). I have a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!) in English and Communication Arts, TV/Film/Radio. I come to Berkeley having recently completed an 8-year stint (whew!) as a broadcast journalist in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. I served a year-long tour in Iraq in 2004 as a broadcast journalist, and then another year in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as Media Relations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC). Although I’ve been very proud to apply my skills set in service to my country, I’ve chosen to hang up my patrol cap in favor of the journalist’s pen for a while. I look forward to each day that gives me an opportunity to meet new people in the East Bay, learn their stories, and then explore new ways of reporting those stories to the North Oakland Community.

Will Jason

Will Jason first caught the reporting bug covering Little League baseball at age 12. A Los Angeles area native, he spent seven years on the East Coast before finding his way back to California. Before enrolling at UC Berkeley, he was a reporter for the North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa.

Dara Kerr

Born in Colorado, it’s only natural that Keeping it Wheel blogger Dara Kerr has bicycles in her blood. Even though memories of the Red Zinger, Coors Classic, Vecchio’s (the best bicycle shop ever) and countless hills, trails and roads to ride make her nostalgic for home—she’s happy to be riding around, watching and learning how they do in Northern California. Besides Keeping it Wheel, she likes to take pictures, make videos, produce radio pieces and write long stories about MC Hammer’s back-up dancers, robots, raptors and civil wars.

Paula Lehman

Born and raised in New York City, I love covering colorful “towns.” I’ve written for magazines and daily papers for over 5 years and have interests in general news, sports and music. Spent my undergraduate days at Duke University. I worked at BusinessWeek magazine between college and my master’s program when I moved to the west coast.

Melanie Mason

Melanie Mason grew up in Los Angeles, where she was raised a Lakers fan, and then went to Georgetown University, where she became a Hoyas fan.  Now in the Bay Area, she is not particularly fond of the Warriors, but enjoys it here nevertheless.  She has worked for The New Republic, PBS NewsHour (back when it was called The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer), Politico and the New York Times’s Bay Area Blog.  This is her third semester reporting for Oakland North.

Ayako Mie

Ayako Mie is a student at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.  Mie is originally from Tokyo, Japan. Prior to coming to the Journalism School, Mie worked as a reporter for Tokyo Broadcasting System, a leading network television in Japan. She mostly covered international affairs including New York City immediately after the September 11th, North Korean nuclear issues and U.S. war on terror. In 2005, she served as a Washington, DC correspondent for Tokyo Broadcasting System.

At the Berkeley Journalism School, Mie has been working on two of the school’s hyper-local web sites, Mission Local and Oakland North, providing coverage to underserved communities. Now, she is in love with hyper-local reporting!

Mie enjoys reading, cooking, walking around the city and traveling.  Her most favorite things is walking around New York City and find latest fashion trend. Mie currently lives with three awesome housemates in Berkeley.

Lillian Mongeau

I grew up in the Boston area, and California is the eighth state I’ve lived in.  So far it’s winning major points!  My undergraduate degree from Barnard College is in English and creative writing.  After graduating in 2004, I spent some time as a ski bum and part-time nanny before moving to Roma, Texas (a Mexican border-town) to teach seventh grade English as a Teach for America corps member.  I am still very interested in education and I look forward to reporting on Oakland’s schools this year and am always interested in hearing from readers about issues and events that deserve some press-time.  In my free time, I am an incessant reader.  I also love to ski, bike, run, swim, and eat.

Ryan Phillips

Ryan is a Berkeley native, and graduated from Berkeley High School. He was a literature major at UC Santa Cruz, and received his degree in 2004. Ryan then spent four years with the Santa Cruz Sentinel, where he was a staff reporter, page designer and later sports editor. In 2008, Ryan moved to New York City to spend a year leading volunteer groups in construction projects as part of a Habitat for Humanity first-time homebuyer program in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Ryan is interested in sports and investigative reporting.

Callie Shanafelt

Callie Shanafelt grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, WA. She started her undergraduate work at an international school now called Global College. She studied film and video in New York, Kenya and South Africa before returning to Washington State and completing her degree at the Evergreen State College. After graduation she worked on a radio program and TV show called Voices of Diversity, which sparked her love of journalism and all its possibilities. In journalism school, she plans to continue with TV and radio and develop multimedia skills. Swimming and karaoke are her preferred stress relievers.

Josh Wolf

Josh Wolf grew up in Wrightwood, a tiny village in Southern California. In 2002, he moved to the Bay Area. Before becoming a journalist, Josh studied film and psychology at UC Santa Barbara and San Francisco State. He wanted to make movies with big-budgets and subversive scripts, but soon discovered that reality was exciting enough. Josh has worked at CNET, Peralta TV, and KPFA radio. He most recently wrote for the Daily Post in Palo Alto. Josh still can’t decide whether it’s more important to print the news and raise hell, or to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Shilanda Woolridge

Shilanda Woolridge spent the last ten years as a professional nerd, managing computer labs, teaching, consulting and performing desktop tech support. After work she was a stringer for the Arts & Entertainment department of the Austin American Statesman. She covered the spoken word beat and fringe theatre. Woolridge is from Louisiana, but was raised everywhere and nowhere as an Air Force brat. She enjoys travel, learning languages, speculative fiction, and baking pastries. She has come to UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for a paradigm shift. Her goals are to become a multidisciplinary journalist and an academic.

Graduate Student Researcher

Tasneem Raja

Tasneem Raja is a multimedia reporter working in print, video, and design. This summer, she was a Bloomberg fellow with News21, a Carnegie-Knight initiative for digital innovation in journalism. Previously, she was a staff writer at the Chicago Reader, and a contributing writer at the Philadelphia Weekly. See more of her work at

Richard Koci Hernandez


Richard Koci Hernandez is a national Emmy award winning video and multimedia producer and worked as a photographer at the San Jose Mercury News for 15 years. His work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and international magazines, including Stern. In 2008, Richard was awarded a national Emmy award for the New Approaches to Documentary category for his work on the Mercury News video entitled, Uprooted. In 2003, Richard was the recipient of the James K. Batten Knight Ridder Excellence Award. His work for the Mercury News has earned him two Pulitzer Prize nominations. His photography and multimedia work has won numerous awards on the national and regional level, including two Emmy nominations. Richard was named deputy director of photography and multimedia after spearheading the creation of Koci Hernandez is currently a visiting Fellow at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism supported by a Ford Foundation grant to produce digital news sites for San Francisco Bay Area communities.

BIO_platoniKara Platoni

Thirteen years ago, I was a J-school student here! Back then we still covered local news — we produced a weekly newspaper — but in those pre-Internet days the only way we could distribute it was via smudgy Xerox, and most of what we wrote never made it far outside of the J-school. We never imagined that one day thousands of people from around the world would be able to read our reports from Oakland. After graduating, I continued to work as a Bay Area reporter; I spent eight years as a staff writer at the East Bay Express, and am now the senior editor at Terrain, a Berkeley-based quarterly environmental magazine. I’m also a freelance science writer for whose work has appeared in nerdly publications like Air & Space, Popular Science and Smithsonian. You can see more of my work at

Faculty Advisor

BIO_gorneyCynthia Gorney

I was a reporter for The Washington Post for 16 years, grew up in San Francisco (Lowell High School and U.C. Berkeley), and have lived in North Oakland since 1983–raised kids here, coached girls’ soccer, remember when Rockridge Market Hall was a seasonal pumpkin patch or Christmas Tree lot. Since leaving the Post I’ve written for a variety of national magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Runners World and Sports Illustrated, while also teaching here at the Graduate School of Journalism. The new reporters on this site are terrific, full of ideas, and eager to hear from you. Talk to them with any feedback, suggestions, corrections, and guidance on how to see this region through your eyes.

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

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