Google News Initiative

A new commitment to local journalism in Oakland

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post comes from Tracey Taylor, co-founder of Berkeleyside, a news outlet in California that is partnering with the Google News Initiative on their Local Experiments Project. 

For 10 years, Berkeleyside has focused on providing independent, award-winning journalism in Berkeley, California. In that time, we've seen a steady diminishing of reporting resources devoted to covering our neighboring city, Oakland. We want to address this problem and at the same time, help tackle the local news crisis more broadly. Today we’re announcing a new local journalism venture focused entirely on Oakland.

The Google News Initiative’s Local Experiments Project is providing initial funding for the new platform and will offer technical and product expertise. The Oakland team will collaborate with the GNI team to develop and share with the wider journalism industry what we learn about business and operations. Google will not have involvement or influence on any aspect of our editorial work. This is the GNI’s third Local Experiments Project and follows McClatchy’s Compass Experiment and Archant’s Project Neon to build all-digital news platforms in communities currently underserved by local news.

Alongside today’s announcement, Berkeleyside is creating a new nonprofit organization that will serve as an umbrella for the two East Bay sites and, in the future, build more new journalism platforms to serve local information needs. The nonprofit will own 100 percent of the Oakland platform and will have complete editorial control. 

We plan to launch in Oakland in spring 2020 with Tasneem Raja at the helm as Editor-in-Chief. Raja co-founded local nonprofit journalism outlet The Tyler Loop, led the Code Switch team at NPR and was senior editor of data journalism at Mother Jones. She was on the founding staff of The Bay Citizen and Oakland North, and lived in Oakland and Berkeley for the better part of a decade. 

The Oakland newsroom will have the resources to offer a depth of coverage that has been missing since declining revenue forced local news organizations to cut staff or close, and will partner with others who serve the information needs of people and communities across Oakland.

Listening is the foundation of our newsroom in order to develop a responsive, inclusive and equitable approach to local news. We’re connecting with people across the city to learn more about the core issues we should focus on, the stories we need to elevate and how we can best serve people with our reporting.  

We’ll be sharing regular updates as we build this new platform and invite you to sign up to stay informed and learn about opportunities to get involved at: berkeleyside.com/oakland.