The Berkeleyside team at work. Photos: Berkeleyside

The Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ NorCal) recognized Berkeleyside this week for general excellence in community journalism. This marks the third year Berkeleyside has won top honors in the print/online category of this award since the news organization’s founding a decade ago (it also won in 2013 and 2014).

Judges especially commended the staff of Berkeleyside for its range of coverage, including stories about a councilman who tried to pressure a cop who pulled him over, Berkeley’s failure to repave city streets, controversial sidewalk rules, a local family’s plan to build a cannabis nursery and a wave of exits at the Berkeley Police Department.

“The Berkeleyside team is thrilled to receive this award for the third time,” said Tracey Taylor, Berkeleyside’s co-founder and managing editor. “I also commend the Society of Professional Journalists for recognizing community journalism when local news broadly is in such a state of crisis.”

Berkeleyside reporter Natalie Orenstein won the award for longform storytelling (print/online small division). SPJ NorCal recognized her three-part series “Beyond the Buses” — an in-depth look at the history and legacy of Berkeley’s landmark school integration program — for its “exceptional narrative writing.” The stories were published in October 2018 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of integration at Berkeley Unified School District.

“I’m delighted that SPJ NorCal is honoring my series on Berkeley school integration, which explores the complicated and unfinished legacy of one decision made in Berkeley half a century ago,” Orenstein said. “I’m also grateful for my editors, who, when I announced I was going to spend weeks tracing a 50-year history and writing thousands of words about it, simply said, ‘Great!’”

Orenstein was also a finalist for the Educational Writers Association 2018 National Awards for Education Reporting for “Beyond the Buses.”

This is the second year in a row that Berkeleyside has been recognized for excellence in longform storytelling. In 2018, Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside’s co-founder and executive editor, won the SPJ NorCal award for her 12,000-word oral history of Milo Yiannopoulos’ controversial visit to UC Berkeley.

This year, the three co-founders of Berkeleyside — Frances Dinkelspiel, Lance Knobel and Tracey Taylor — received the prestigious Wheeler Medal, an honor bestowed by the Berkeley Community Scholars for the founders’ “vision and steadfastness” in creating a news site that Berkeley citizens rely on.

The other winners in the SPJ NorCal community journalism category this year were, in the TV/video division, Candice Nguyen, Tony Hodrick and Chandler Landon of KTVU, for “Small City, Big Problems,” an in-depth series of stories on misconduct and abuses of power within the Vallejo Police Department.

There were three other winners in the longform category: Katia Savchuk of Mother Jones for “Frozen Assets,” about Alaska’s universal basic income program, in the print/online large division; April Dembosky, Victoria Mauleon and Sasha Khokha of KQED for “The Perfect Mom,” about postpartum psychosis, in the radio/audio division; and Vicky Nguyen, Michael Bott, Jeremy Carroll, Mark Villarreal and Michael Horn of NBC Bay Area for “Not Words But Deeds: Sex Abuse Victims Silenced,” a series in which they uncovered and chronicled the silencing of sex abuse allegations at Presentation High School in San Jose, in the TV/video division. See the complete list of honorees.

The 2019 winners will be honored at SPJ NorCal’s 34th Excellence in Journalism awards dinner Thursday, Nov. 14, at Delancey Street Restaurant in San Francisco.

Jeanne Carstensen

Jeanne Carstensen is a freelance writer in San Francisco. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Intercept, Nautilus, The San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. Her radio stories...

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24 Comments

  1. Well done Berkeleyside!
    Now I ask you to research this topic here in Berkeley and maybe provide some data on the subject below..

    “I have lived nearly all my life in California, and my love for this place and its people runs deep and true,” the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo writes. “… But lately my affinity for my home state has soured. Maybe it’s the smoke and the blackouts, but a very un-Californian nihilism has been creeping into my thinking. I’m starting to suspect we’re over. It’s the end of California as we know it. I don’t feel fine.”

    Why would anyone live in California?” the Washington Times asks.

    “It’s the end of California as we know it,” the New York Times opinion section bemoans.

    “California is becoming unlivable,” proclaims The Atlantic.

    Everywhere you look, national media outlets can’t seem to stop publishing thinkpieces announcing the death of California. It was a good run, apparently, but now it’s all over…”Wildfires and lack of affordable housing—these are two of the most visible and urgent crises facing California..

  2. Keep up your incredible work/contribution to our community. We all rely on your excellent coverage of what’s going on here.

  3. Adding my voice to the chorus of well deserved congratulations to the B’side team. Thanks for your hard work, quality muckraking, & responsiveness to the community.

  4. I totally depend on Berkeleyside for news that matters. Congratulations on receiving highly-deserved awards from the Society of Professional Journalists! You earned them! Bravo!!

  5. You’re all on a serious roll! I’m starting to expect Berkeleyside’s wonderful reporters to win every award around. Well done, again!

  6. Go Natalie! Delighted to hear about the well deserved recognition for your engaging articles. Thanks for all you do.

  7. Congrats to all of you at Berkeleyside! And thank you too for the links to the other winners’ work.