Collaborate with us! Credit: CB Smith-Dahl

Much of The Oaklandside’s best work happens in collaboration with local independent writers, reporters, researchers, and other community members. We’re eager to work with more people to share Oakland’s stories, serve local information needs, and amplify important perspectives from across our city.

So, how can we make it happen? We put together a simple web form for pitches below, so you can see what sort of information you’ll need to gather before you hit “Submit.” That’s all you need to do: answer the questions on the form, send your pitch, and an editor will get back to you within one week.

A few things to know before you get started:

Stories and formats we’re interested in: We love hearing from community members about important issues happening in specific Oakland communities and neighborhoods that might not be on everyone else’s radars. We love stories that help Oaklanders learn about resources that would benefit them and their communities, or teach people how to navigate complicated systems. Stories don’t have to be traditional narrative reports: we like FAQs, “how-to” guides, personal essays, short videos, and more. Our daily photojournalism needs are covered, but we’re open to photo essays and other visual ideas.

We don’t currently run opinion pieces or op-eds. The building blocks of our work are facts, research, and interviews centered in Oakland. We don’t currently have the capacity to support opinion pieces or op-eds that aren’t deeply rooted in reporting, especially local reporting. (By the way: the best opinion journalism tends to be deeply rooted in reporting, anyway.)

We are interested in first-person storytelling about how communities in Oakland are impacted by local, state, and national policy and resource gaps. A good example of this comes from our partnership with Oakland’s El Tímpano, a community journalism platform that serves the information needs of Spanish- and Mam-speaking residents in our city—read José Martin Aguilar’s first-person narrative about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected his family. Whether you’re interested in sharing your own story, or collaborating with someone else in Oakland to share their story, we’d love to hear about it.

How to check whether your idea is a fit for The Oaklandside before you spend time filling out the form: 1. Read what we publish to get an overall sense of how we aim to serve our communities. You can sign up for our newsletter to get fresh stories in your inbox. 2. Check out our founding values.

Please note that we only publish stories that are closely tied to people and issues in Oakland. We don’t publish stories on regional, state, or national issues that aren’t rooted in our city. If you want to write about such an issue, and have a compelling way to tie it to people, places, or happenings in Oakland, we’d love to hear about it.

We’ll never take your pitch and assign it to one of our in-house staff reporters. If one of our full-time reporters is already working on a story very similar to yours, or has expressed interest in doing so, we will let you know immediately, consider whether there might be a good opportunity for the two of you to collaborate, or work with you to find another fit.

If your pitch resonates with our founding values and our editorial mission, doesn’t overlap with a story we already have in progress, and we’re able to properly support your pitch with editing bandwidth and funding at the time you submit it, here’s how we’ll work with you:

  • Compensation: We pay $250 for stories that take about two days of reporting and writing, and up to $1,500 for in-depth features and investigative reports that take much longer to produce. We’ll work with you to figure out how long your report is likely to take, and offer you a clear rate ahead of time.
  • Story planning: If you’re new to working with us, an Oaklandside editor will talk to you about your reporting process before you get started, and you’ll work together to roadmap a plan.
  • Editing: We’re proud to offer hands-on editing from at least two Oaklandside editors for every story we publish. We strive for clear communication, timely responses, and a supportive working experience.
  • Two-way feedback: After your first story for The Oaklandside publishes, we’ll ask you to fill out a quick survey letting us know how we can better support independent writers and reporters in the future. And after every story you contribute to The Oaklandside, we’ll offer you feedback on how your next story for us or any other publication could be even stronger.
Tasneem Raja headshot

Tasneem Raja is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oaklandside. A pioneer in data journalism and local nonprofit news startups, she co-founded The Tyler Loop, a nationally recognized community news platform in East Texas. She was a senior editor at NPR's Code Switch and at Mother Jones, where the team she led helped build the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She started her career as features reporter at The Chicago Reader and The Philadelphia Weekly, and lives in Oakland with her husband and daughter.