Happy New Year, Berkeley!
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading and supporting Berkeleyside throughout 2021 and to wish you a happy, healthy 2022. Whether you live or work in Berkeley, or just visit to see a show, have dinner, shop or go for a walk at Cesar Chavez Park, we have you covered.
It’s been a year of great change for Berkeleyside.
Berkeleyside co-founders Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel stepped down from day-to-day management of the site after 12 years, shifting their focus to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Cityside, our parent nonprofit launched in 2019.
In April, I joined the team as Editor-in-Chief and Zac Farber signed on as Managing Editor. In May, Eve Batey, a veteran of Eater SF and the San Francisco Chronicle, replaced Sarah Han in covering the East Bay restaurant and food scene, later coming on full time as Nosh Editor. In July, we hired the award-winning Mercury News transportation reporter Nico Savidge to cover Berkeley City Hall. And in November, we were able to bring onto staff our superb education reporter Ally Markovich.
And don’t worry, Emilie Raguso’s relentless, thorough coverage of public safety policy and the human cost of crime didn’t go anywhere, nor did Supriya Yelimeli’s compassionate reporting on homelessness and housing issues.
Your support is what allows our reporters to write the type of crucial deep-dive stories that take weeks of research and for which there are no shortcuts. Stories that reveal the workings — or failings — of institutions. Stories like our comprehensive guide to preparing for wildfire season; like our explainer breaking down how the city plans to build nearly 9,000 units of housing by 2031; like our investigation revealing how long the Berkeley school district knew about sexual misconduct allegations against chemistry teacher Matthew Bissell; and like our profile of Chuck Feezel, who sought help for years for mental illness before he lay down to die on Telegraph Avenue.
Time and time again over the past year you’ve told us how much you value this sort of essential reporting. You’ve told us so in emails and in notes accompanying your donations:
- I depend on Berkeleyside to keep me connected to the community.
- You give me news I can use.
- You were willing to stick your necks out and threaten a lawsuit, clearly the only thing that gets BUSD moving. We are so lucky to have you.
- Berkeleyside is a critical element for all of us in the East Bay. I commend you and your team for keeping us aware of what’s going on in an ethical and professional manner.
We’ll be bringing you more hard-hitting stories in 2022, and we look forward to expanding our reporting and asking more questions about how we can best serve the entire Berkeley community.
In January, we will welcome Alejandra Armstrong as our new audience engagement editor. She’ll be amplifying our stories and connecting with readers directly both on social media and offline, helping us identify the information needs of readers we’re missing and how we can reach them. And this summer, we will add a reporter covering climate and transportation and, for the first time, a full-time photographer through Report from America, a national nonprofit service organization. As soon as it’s safe, Zac and I plan to visit neighborhood coffee shops to strike up conversations with folks across Berkeley. Keep reading Berkeleyside’s newsletters to see where they’ll be, and stop by to introduce yourself and let them know what’s important to you in the city.
One thing I’ve learned and come to respect at Berkeleyside is the special relationship it has with its readers. Some of the stories we wrote last year came from your tips, so I would like to thank you and encourage you to use our tips form to continue letting us know what is happening in your neighborhood. With the new year comes a renewed focus to cover the issues that matter the most to you, our readers. I am really excited about 2022 and what lies ahead.
From the Berkeleyside staff, we wish you all a Happy New Year.