About Oakland North

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism have been running Oakland North since 2008. Here are some of their adventures.


Oakland North is a news project of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. We started in 2008 with support from the Ford Foundation, but currently operate as an independent local news organization supported by UC Berkeley and your donations. (Click this link to be directed to the online giving page for the Hyperlocal News Fund.)


Oakland North, and our sister publication Richmond Confidential, are entirely staffed by graduate student reporters at the J-School. During the fall semester, our students are working for our core “boot camp” class in learning to report, a class we fondly know here as J200. In the spring, a smaller group of students pursue the continuation course, J201, as an elective, working on more complex, ambitious reporting pieces.


Our goals at Oakland North are to improve local coverage; to experiment with online and digital media; to teach young reporters to excel in their fairness and commitment to accuracy; and to listen to you–about the stories and features that most interest you, the issues that concern you, the information services you want, and the reporting you’d like to see undertaken in your own community. We aim to explore new ways to give communities back the coverage they’re losing as regional newspapers shrink–and also to be inventive about what digital journalism can do for all of us in the future. We’re learning new ways of telling stories in sound, in pictures, in cellphone dispatches, through data visualization, through social media and in other forms of reportage still under development.


Here are just a few of our past favorites:


A Life Fulfilled — Charles Berkowitz’s touching multimedia report on the life of Teddy Berger-Greer, a four-year-old with a rare cancer called neuroblastoma. The story started as a short piece for Oakland North, and became a piece for the Creativist.


As the economy sinks, homeless people move onto abandoned boats — Amina Waheed investigates an economic phenomenon happening in Oakland’s marina community, a story reprinted by the East Bay Express.


The Pulse of Oakland — Brittany Schell turned her ongoing work about pollution and asthma rates in West Oakland into her second year thesis project.


Election coverage — Every election year, the Oakland North team brings the community in-depth political coverage focusing on profiling the candidates, analyzing the issues, and explaining the election results. In 2014, Alissa Greenberg and Joshua Escobar broke down the mayor’s race precinct-by-precinct, Nigel Manuel and Molly Pierce figured out how much the candidates spent, and Alicia Vargas showed you the journey of a ballot.


Oakland reacts to Ferguson — Team coverage of the protests that roiled Oakland and other cities throughout the country in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Breaking news coverage here, with photo coverage here.


Oakland homicides: A statistical breakdown. In 2012, reporter John Osborn collected information about every murder that had happened in the city, breaking down the statistics on an unusually violent year. In 2013, he and reporter Mihir Zaveri followed up with an analysis on who is affected by gun violence in Oakland. 


Occupy Oakland coverage — Team coverage beginning in fall, 2011, starting with the camp in front of City Hall, through the city’s destruction of the camp and the protests that followed throughout the winter and into the spring, including close-ups on the people, the politics, the art and the economics of Occupy. (This link will take you to a list of stories, beginning with the oldest, and continuing through the current day.)


Oakland North’s Race to the Airport — in order to test the premise of Oakland’s new “BART to OAK” airport connector (that a BART train will get you there faster) we staged our own test. Four racers, traveling by bus, BART, bike and car had to make it from Bakesale Betty to the airport — while carrying a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Who would make it there fastest, and with the most intact pie?


Think Oakland’s budget is easy to fix? — With this data visualization designed by Evan Wagstaff, Roberto Daza and Shirley Lau, you can try your hand at closing the city’s budget gap.


Five Teenagers — Kate McLean, Mario Furloni and Richard Parks tell the story of five teenagers involved in the Teens on Target anti-violence program.


Oakland North’s history series — Led by Ryan Phillips, our reporters put together multimedia histories of three neighborhoods: Rockridge, the Golden Gate and the Temescal.


And finally, we’ve interviewed hundreds of our Oakland neighbors, profiling some of the most interesting members of our community. Meet “The bearded barbers of Temescal” in this video by Justine Quart, or forensic diver Steven Day in this story by Gregory Thomas, or rehearse your own death with Chris Zydel and Sharon Pavelda in this story by Becky Palmstrom, meet the teenagers who play traditional Ethiopian jazz in this audio piece by Aaron Mendelson, stop by for a game of vintage baseball with the Oakland Colonels in this radio report by Ted Trautman, or read Teresa Chin’s story about the legendary Tiki Tom’s.


We hope to keep Oakland North a source of news and community conversation, and we welcome your comments and insights. You can connect with Oakland North on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. We welcome tips, questions, corrections and submissions for “You Tell Us,” our community op-ed page, at oaklandnorthstaff@gmail.com. And finally, you can make a donation to the Hyperlocal News Fund to support Oakland North here.


Please keep in touch!


— The staff of Oakland North


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