The founders of Cityside, Berkeleyside’s nonprofit parent organization, are delighted to announce that Pamela Turntine, a veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner with deep roots in Berkeley, will become Berkeleyside’s new editor-in-chief.
A longtime editor for the Oakland Tribune, East Bay Times and The Mercury News, Turntine brings to the post decades of editing experience, a stellar knack for breaking news, a profound understanding of reporting at a local level and a high regard for Berkeleyside and the community it has fostered since its launch in 2009. She will join the newsroom on April 19.
The founders of Cityside selected Turntine after conducting a months-long, nationwide search for an editor-in-chief to replace Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel, the two current editors who, along with Lance Knobel, are Berkeleyside’s co-founders. Cityside is thrilled to have found in Turntine a veritable newshound who manifestly loves local journalism, has a passion for working with reporters and has earned a reputation as a superb newsroom leader.
“We loved that Turntine knows Berkeley so well and has the skills to make stories resonate deeply,” said Taylor. “It wasn’t easy to find the right person to bring Berkeleyside to the next level, and we are enormously inspired by Turntine’s keen editorial perspective and dedication to serving the Berkeley community.”
Turntine said she intends to retain Berkeleyside’s laser focus on community issues.
“I’m not one to recreate the wheel,” she said. “If it’s working, I don’t want to tear anything up. I want to maintain the integrity and high standards of journalism Berkeleyside has achieved. I also want to focus on breaking news as well as providing deep looks into issues.”
An editor with deep roots in Berkeley and the East Bay
As a toddler, Turntine lived in a house off Ashby Avenue in Berkeley before her family moved to Oakland. Her father later moved back to Berkeley where her grandmother lived, and Turntine attended Berkeley High School. It was there, in a class in the school’s printing department, where she learned to use a hot-metal typesetting machine, sparking her lifelong love for journalism. She also fondly remembers taking BHS’s renowned Afro-Haitian dance classes. One of Turntine’s first jobs in high school was working at the Berkeley Public Library.
After graduating from California State University Long Beach with a major in broadcast journalism, Turntine worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram as a sports reporter and prep editor, moving back to the Bay Area in 2001. She started work at the Contra Costa Times in 2002. The Bay Area News Group acquired that paper a few years later and, since then, Turntine has worked as a night city editor and managing editor for the Oakland Tribune and as a senior editor in various capacities for the East Bay Times and The Mercury News.
In 2017, Turntine was part of the East Bay Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the devastating Ghost Ship fire. Another memorable story she worked on came on March 21, 2009. Turntine was the editor in charge that day when a felon killed four Oakland police officers, the deadliest attack against police in almost 40 years. Turntine was also deeply involved in covering the tragic June 2015 balcony collapse in downtown Berkeley which led to the death of six students.
One of Turntine’s first priorities will be to meet with community members to learn more about Berkeley’s information needs.
“There are endless stories to tell in Berkeley,” said Turntine. “I look forward to going out into the community, reaching out and talking to people, connecting with those in underserved communities to find out what their stories are, so we can tell their stories.”
A new managing editor joins the editorial team
Also joining Berkeleyside on April 19 is a new managing editor, Zac Farber. Farber was the former editor of the Southwest Journal, a 30,000-circulation biweekly community paper in Minneapolis, MN. While there, he led coverage of the killing of George Floyd and launched a special reporting project that tracked the pandemic’s toll on the community. In 2020, the paper’s staff won eight awards in the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists Page One Award contest — more than any other non-daily newspaper in the state. As the Southwest Journal faltered economically in the pandemic, Farber spearheaded the paper’s first-ever donation drive. It wasn’t enough to save the paper, but it led Farber to believe that the path forward for local news lies in a nonprofit model.
“Berkeleyside is a beautiful realization of the dream of first-rate online local journalism,” said Farber. “And you’re asking the right questions about how best to inclusively serve your communities.” Farber said he is already a strong Berkeley partisan, having spent two weeks every year of his youth visiting his aunt and uncle on Scenic Avenue, cardboarding down the stone slide in Codornices Park and dining at Bongo Burger.
Turntine and Farber will join forces with the excellent existing Berkeleyside newsroom team comprised of Emilie Raguso, senior editor for news, Sarah Han, senior editor for food and Supriya Yelimeli, who covers the pandemic, housing and homelessness, Between them, the current staff has 14 years’ experience delivering top-notch local journalism to the Berkeley community.
An exciting future rooted in the success of Berkeleyside
Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor, along with Lance Knobel, started Berkeleyside in the fall of 2009 because they were concerned about the decline in news coverage about Berkeley. Digital-only local news sites were novel then. Over the last 12 years, Berkeleyside has evolved into a comprehensive, 24/7 news site publishing thousands of articles a year. Berkeleyside averages more than 1.6 million page views and 519,000 unique visitors a month and more than 4,500 members regularly make donations to support its work.
Berkeleyside has been recognized numerous times for the high quality of its work, three times winning the excellence in community journalism award from the NorCal chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, among other honors. In 2019, Berkeley Community Scholars recognized the Berkeleyside founders for their contribution to the civic life of Berkeley by awarding them the prestigious Benjamin Ide Wheeler award.
Berkeleyside has also developed a national reputation for its pioneering efforts to make local news sustainable, including launching the nation’s first direct public offering that allowed readers to become investors. In 2019, the founders launched the Cityside Journalism Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the decline in local news more broadly. Tasneem Raja, a former senior editor at NPR and Mother Jones, and the founder of the Tyler Loop, a nonprofit community news site in Texas, joined the three Berkeleyside co-founders as a Cityside co-founder. Raja is also the editor-in-chief of The Oaklandside, which launched in June.
With Turntine coming on board, the leaders of both Cityside’s newsrooms are women of color, a reflection of the company’s commitment to ensuring that our leadership team and newsrooms reflect the communities we seek to serve and reach.
New roles for founding co-editors of Berkeleyside
Dinkelspiel and Taylor will be stepping back from their day-to-day duties on Berkeleyside to focus on building Cityside. Taylor will serve as the editorial director of Cityside, overseeing all editorial operations. She will drive efforts to increase membership, grow the audience, diversify the company’s editorial products and help launch future sites.
Dinkelspiel will become a writer-at-large for Cityside, continuing to bring much-needed, hard-hitting investigative and in-depth reporting on the East Bay’s most complex issues, and will also provide editorial direction for the organization and help drive efforts to make Cityside more sustainable.