Photo by Simone Obidahday, Jacket staff
Photo by Simone Obidahday, Jacket staff

The Berkeley High School Jacket has long been recognized as one of the best high school newspapers in the country. That reputation comes in part from the story it broke 9 years ago about how Berkeley landlord Lackireddy Bali Reddy was importing girls from India to work as sex slaves in the Bay Area.

The paper is completely independent of the high school. It doesn’t get money from the school district, it elects its own editorial board, and it is produced outside of a formal journalism class. Every other week the 70-person staff produces a 16-page paper covering everything from desk shortages at the school to students posting racial slurs on Facebook.

But if you aren’t a subscriber, or your child isn’t one of the 3,200 students at the school, the inner world of Berkeley High as seen through its student journalists has been a secret.

Until now.

For the first time in its long history, the Jacket is online. Not only are the stories from the current edition posted, but there are special multimedia projects, podcasts, and photos. It’s an interesting peek at an institution that is one of the largest in the city.

And it’s also a savvy move by those involved with the Jacket since journalists today need to know how to use multi-media tools, not just write traditional stories for the newspaper.

In August 2008, the Jacket’s financial manager put out a plea to the community because the Jacket did not have enough money to pay for printing for the year. The community responded generously and the Jacket is on sound financial footing this year. In fact, it is now able to print color, rather than black and white photographs.

Find the Jacket at:

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

Join the Conversation


  1. As the current web editor who is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Jacket’s new website, I would just like to say that there are not any past issues (pre 2009) on the site – for now. You are giving us [the 2 web editors] too much credit.

    Also, the picture in this post above, is not actually of the Jacket staff or writers. It is a random class that is using the portable laptop cart which is available to classrooms in one of the buildings.

    Finally, It has been online before as said above, but it was updated every 5 or 6 months, and only with limited stories. So theoretically, it was not actually “online”.

  2. Thanks for the clarification about the Jacket being on line previously. Please note that I said the Lackireddy story was one reason for the paper’s good reputation, not the only reason.

    But your comment highlights an important point: Berkeley residents don’t know a lot about the paper’s past because no previous issues have been archived. Now that the paper has a new website and online presence, people will be able to retrieve back issues.

  3. A few facts that need clarification:

    Online: This is not the first time the Jacket has been online. When I taught there in the late 90’s/early 00’s, the paper was online.

    Finance: Yes, the school does not pay for printing of the papers, but the school district does contribute financially to the well being of the paper: There is a teacher assigned to the class (for which students earn academic credit), there is a classroom, there is electricity, and there are computers (I’m not sure what computers they currently use, but the school has bought computers for them in the past).

    Excellence: The paper has had an excellent reputation since long before the story about Reddy. Let this one go: This was the writing of a couple of excellent student writers who had access to information adults may not have. They did a great job, but if this were the only story that came out of substance, it would just be another student newspaper that happened to have a couple good writers one year.