Oaklandside reporters David DeBolt (left) and Jose Fermoso

Sign up for our free newsletter

Free Oakland news, written by Oaklanders, delivered straight to your inbox.

The Oaklandside is proud to announce that David DeBolt has joined our newsroom as a senior reporter covering City Hall and policing. We are equally proud to announce that Jose Fermoso will be joining us as a Knight-Wallace Fellow, covering traffic safety.

The award-winning journalist DeBolt will be no stranger to most who follow Bay Area news. He brings over a decade of experience reporting on local governments and public safety, a majority of those years spent with the Oakland Tribune and, later, the Bay Area News Group. He’s been a breaking news reporter and is a seasoned features writer and investigative journalist. Among other accolades, he was a member of the reporting team at BANG honored in 2017 with a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland. 

Courtesy: David DeBolt

On joining The Oaklandside, DeBolt said he’s excited to make Oakland—the city where he lives—the sole focus of his work. He was “a frequent flyer” at Oakland City Council meetings between 2012 and 2018, he noted, and looks forward to immersing himself again in the city’s politics, especially at a moment in history when city officials and community members are involved in robust policy discussions around the future of policing and public safety in our city. 

“I appreciate Oaklandside’s touch,” he added. “Not just how stories are reported, but the organization’s engagement with the community. I feel like, especially during the pandemic, Oaklandside was a place I could go to stay in touch with Oakland. That’s something I’ve enjoyed and wanted to be a part of.” 

DeBolt can be reached via email at david@oaklandside.org or on Twitter @daviddebolt.

A focus on transportation and traffic safety

Readers of The Oaklandside will already be familiar with Jose Fermoso, who has contributed several major investigations and features, and who will be joining our team next month as a full-time senior reporter dedicated entirely to covering transportation and traffic safety in Oakland, as a 2021-2022 Knight-Wallace Fellow. Fermoso is one of only 11 journalists awarded a fellowship for the 2021-2022 academic year from this prestigious University of Michigan program. 

Courtesy: Jose Fermoso

Fermoso, an Oakland native, will be taking a deep dive for The Oaklandside into examining our city’s deadly roadways, with a focus on urban design, historical inequities, and community-driven solutions that seek to improve the city’s dangerous traffic corridors.

Fermoso’s standout features for The Oaklandside as a freelancer over the past year include stories about the city’s Slow Streets initiative, local issues with voting during last November’s election, and Oakland’s “secret stairways.” 

His work has also been featured in The Guardian, Wired, and The New York Times. Fermoso is the founder and host of the podcast “El Progreso,” which uses stories and interviews to examine the impacts of technology and business on Latinx communities.

Connect with Fermoso on Twitter: @fermoso

Jacob Simas is Managing Editor of The Oaklandside. He joined us from Univision, where he led social-impact initiatives and established the Rise Up: Be Heard journalism training program for young people and community organizers in underserved areas of California. He was a senior editor and director of youth and community media at New America Media, where he led a community news network that amplified student and youth reporting in California news deserts. Simas has lived in Oakland for the past decade with his wife and two children, who attend Oakland public schools. He is an advisory board member for Youth Beat and a former volunteer host and producer with KPFA.