Oakland Voices Seeks Community Reporters at West Oakland Library – Tribune – 2.7.2010

Oakland Tribune, The (CA) – Sunday, February 7, 2010

Author: Sean Maher The Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND — The Tribune launched a program in West Oakland on Saturday to turn the area’s residents into published journalists.

Oakland Voices will recruit area residents and train them to be reporters, ultimately publishing their stories and pairing them with professionals for larger projects.

The Tribune is renting a room in the West Oakland library branch at 1801 Adeline St. to house a computer center, where much of the work will be done.

“I’ve always been interested in the idea of community journalism,” said C.B. Smith-Dahl, a West Oakland parent and educator. “There are such rich stories in West Oakland that don’t get covered. I know the Tribune knows that, and maybe this is a way to get them told.”

“People always say in this community there are a lot of good things happening here,” Smith-Dahl added. “We have farmers markets five days a week. Neighbors all know each other and talk to each other.”

Smith-Dahl compared residents to a family, saying the negative aspects get too much attention.

“Every family has a crazy uncle and a wild young girl,” she said. “But there’s also the single mom who runs a business, and the retired older person who gives advice and wisdom. West Oakland is like that. There are crazy aspects to it, but a lot to admire, too.

“I’m not from West Oakland ,” she added. “But my children will be. So this is important.”

The training will begin in April and the curriculum is being designed by Evelyn Hsu, a program director with the Maynard Institute, which trains minority journalists and attempts to diversify newsrooms.

“We’ll be covering some fundamentals,” Hsu said, “looking at what exactly journalism is, and walking people through how to do research and reporting, how to verify facts. We’ll look at the basics of photography, possibly some multimedia.”

“What’s really exciting about it, to me, is finding out what the people who take the program bring to the table,” Hsu said. “A lot of the curriculum will end up depending on the people who come through.”

The program, funded by a major grant from the California Endowment, provides stipends of $1,000 to core program participants. For more information or to apply, call 510-273-0210 or e-mail oaklandvoices@gmail.com. The deadline is March 12.

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