From its inception, The Oaklandside, a community-driven local newsroom for the people in Oakland, California, has been transparent about its work, its values and its funding. The Oaklandside has a special section on the website called “How We Work”, which gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the decision-making process.
One recent example is the newsroom’s work with community advisors. In May 2021, the newsroom teamed up with seven longtime residents of Oakland, one for each district of the city. Their job was to read The Oaklandside’s stories and give feedback to ensure that the journalists were staying true to their values.
“We will seek to bring an ‘asset mindset’ to our coverage, reporting on and highlighting the brilliance and value of Oakland’s people, institutions, and communities, alongside our honest and uncompromising reporting on Oakland’s greatest vulnerabilities.”The Oaklandside
There are several reasons we included The Oaklandside in the ComingFrom.org collection:
An inclusive editorial process
When the newsroom published a story of the life of Mario Gonzalez, a young Oaklander who was killed by Alameda police in April 2021, it was followed by a detailed piece on how the journalists captured this story. This extra access – something that few newsrooms allow – gives a sense that the reader is entering a community, rather than a traditional media organization. Even the name of the organization was chosen by one of the Oaklanders, in a community brainstorm session.
Public statement of values
The Oaklandside publicly shares its founding values. These include being good listeners and building a newsroom that represents and reflects Oakland.
- The Oaklandside: “We’re especially interested in working with people who have ties to Oakland, and who have demonstrated an understanding of the ways race, racism, identity, and power shape daily life in Oakland and across America.”
Oakland is one of the most diverse yet also unequal cities in the U.S., especially in categories like housing and crime. The need for communal spaces is strong. To achieve that, the newsroom must believe in the city and its people, yet also stay critical and independent to stick to journalistic values – something that The Oaklandside declares and delivers on.
Note: We’d like to thank Lance Knobel, Co-founder and CEO of Cityside for recommending this example for consideration in the Coming From Collection. Cityside is the nonprofit publisher of The Oaklandside.