Ricky Rodas, a Report for America corps member for Berkeleyside’s sister site, The Oaklandside, interviews David Peters on March 30, 2021, for a story he wrote on Oakland’s Black Liberation Walking Tour. Credit: Amir Aziz

Berkeleyside is delighted to announce that we have been selected as a Report for America host newsroom. 

The support of this national nonprofit service program will help us hire a new staff reporter covering climate and transportation and a new visual journalist whose photography will deepen the impact of all of our stories. The visual journalist will concurrently be a fellow through CatchLight, a California nonprofit dedicated to leveraging the power of visuals to inform, connect and transform communities.

Journalists interested in either of these positions can apply through Report for America by Jan. 31. Readers can look forward to their work appearing on Berkeleyside starting next summer.

“The addition of these two positions will be a leap forward for Berkeleyside,” said Editor-in-Chief Pamela Turntine. “The corps members’ work will deepen our coverage of Berkeley, showing how local developments around transportation are intimately related to the climate crisis and bringing more of the type of visual journalism our readers have long told us how much they appreciate.”

Launched in 2017, Report for America places journalists into local newsrooms nationwide to report on under-covered issues and communities. An initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit media organization, it is structured to harness the skills and idealism of an emerging group of journalists plus the creative spirit of local news organizations — like ours. 

Launched in 2015, CatchLight’s mission is to address the decline of visual journalism, advance visual representation in local media, and serve critical community information needs in California.

Berkeleyside is one of just 13 California news outlets chosen for Report for America this year and one of just three chosen for the CatchLight Local Visual Desk. In 2022, a total of 325 journalists will be placed through Report for America at nearly 270 newsrooms across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The goal is to reverse the collapse of local journalism.

“Yes, local news is in crisis — but this batch of newsrooms also fills us with tremendous hope,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “Newsrooms across the country are pushing to cover essential local beats like schools and rural areas, at the same time they try to better represent all of the people in their communities.”

Lasting two years (with an option for a third), the program delivers a wide range of benefits to its corps members. Beyond paying up to half of the journalists’ salaries, it provides ongoing training and mentorship by leading journalists, peer networking, and memberships to select professional organizations.

In addition to the support offered by Report for America, the visual journalist will receive professional editing support, photojournalism trainings and networking opportunities through CatchLight.

Since June 2020, Ricky Rodas has been working as a Report for America corps member at our sister site, The Oaklandside, where his beat has focused on immigrant-owned businesses. He’s written explainers on business improvement districts and Oakland’s “Flex Streets,” profiles of struggling local psychics and a mother-son cannabis-delivering duo, and investigations into grocery store hazard pay policies and the crackdown on street vendors around Lake Merritt

“Being an RFA corps member has been an amazing opportunity because it has allowed me to report on communities that deserve coverage,” Rodas said. “I am beyond happy to hear that Berkeleyside will be getting two corps members of its own, and am hopeful that whoever is chosen for those positions will reflect Berkeley’s rich diversity and history in their work.”

Report for America prioritizes a diverse corps and is working with a number of professional organizations and college journalism programs to help ensure that newsrooms reflect the audiences they serve.

“Make no mistake, the greatest threat to democracy is the collapse of local news,” said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth chief executive officer and co-founder of Report for America. “We are excited to welcome these newsrooms and look forward to empowering them to meet the growing information needs of the communities they serve.”

Applications for Report for America are being accepted until Jan. 31, with those who apply before Dec. 31 receiving early consideration. Corps members will be selected from a highly competitive, national competition. Last year, more than 1,800 applications were received. 

Candidates for the two positions at Berkeleyside will be vetted by Report for America before being interviewed and hired by editors at our newsroom. The salary for these positions is $60,000 depending on experience. We offer a health plan, four weeks of paid leave, a 401(k) match, and a commitment to invest $1,000 annually in the professional development of all our employees. 

Learn more about the positions and apply:

Climate and transportation reporter

Wildfires. Drought. Heated debates over transit, pedestrian safety and how to curb the fossil-fuel emissions driving global warming. (Plus: creeks and coyotes!) Covering powerful-but-under-scrutinized agencies like the East Bay Regional Park District and Alameda County Transit, you’ll show how political decisions shape the urban environment and report on nature and wildlife in our city. You’ll be expected to write 2-3 stories weekly — breaking news, enterprise and service-oriented pieces — with mentorship from award-winning editors and reporters.

Visual journalist

Cover everything from burrowing owl sightings to social uprisings. You’ll work on assignment, taking photographs, and some videography, for daily news stories, medium-term features and live events, as well as developing independent photojournalism enterprise projects with an eye to reflecting the wide spectrum of Berkeley’s people and communities. Fully integrated into the Berkeleyside newsroom, you’ll have one editor mentor and will have the chance to learn from and collaborate with the staff photographer at our sister news site, The Oaklandside. 

The reporter we are looking for will be excited to join a seven-person-strong, award-winning nonprofit newsroom that engages and enriches the Berkeley community through stellar, civic-minded journalism.

Please consider supporting this vital mission to preserve local news with a donation.

About Report for America

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world, including the recent launch of Report for the World in partnership with local newsrooms in India, Nigeria and Brazil.

About CatchLight

CatchLight is a hybrid nonprofit media organization borrowing from the practices of art, journalism, and social justice. It is a transformational force, urgently bringing resources and organizations together to nurture and grow a thriving visual ecosystem.

This story has been updated with additional information about the CatchLight Local Fellowship.

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Berkeleyside is Berkeley, California’s independently-owned local news site. Learn more about the Berkeleyside team. Questions? Email editors@berkeleyside.org.