Laney College in Oakland is one of four schools in the Peralta College District. Credit: Gabe Johnson

Over the past two months, you may have noticed a new name in The Oaklandside’s bylines. That would likely be Luke Wrin Piper, a journalism student at Laney College who joined the newsroom in June as our first-ever summer reporting intern.

One of The Oaklandside’s founding values is a commitment to maintaining a newsroom that reflects Oakland. We also believe in fostering and supporting up-and-coming local talent like Wrin-Piper. That’s why we’ve been proud to partner with The Lede, a local bistro and gathering space for journalists and other creatives, to launch an internship—our “Lede Reporter in Residence” program—providing an early career opportunity for student journalists at Laney College.

In this 10-week, full-time, paid reporting position in our newsroom, students are given an opportunity to build their skills by taking on assignments, pitching story ideas, and collaborating with staff reporters and editors, all while making a meaningful contribution to Oakland by reporting on local issues.

The program is already benefitting The Oaklandside, too. Wrin Piper hit the ground running and has contributed a variety of standouts, like last week’s excellent conversation with Oakland geologist and author Andrew Alden, a rich and playful profile of the Oakland Lawn Bowling Club, and a timely explainer about the East Bay’s current COVID surge, a collaboration with Berkeleyside reporter Ally Markovich.

Wrin Piper comes to The Oaklandside from The Citizen, the Peralta Community College District’s student-run publication headquartered at Laney, where he got his start covering sports before expanding his focus to faculty and union issues, and district finances. He also took a turn helming The Citizen as its editor-in-chief.

Credit: courtesy Luke Wrin Piper

“Laney College is a step in the story of so many Oaklanders. You can walk in and seriously change things for yourself,” said Wrin Piper. “By partnering with Laney, The Oaklandaside and The Lede are extending an opportunity that for many students will be their first experience in the world of professional journalism, something that will assuage their anxieties and contribute to their foundation as they move into the future.

“I’m grateful to be the first reporting intern for The Oaklandside,” he added. “The feedback and lessons I’ve gleaned from my time here have reaffirmed not only that I can do this professionally, but that I should.”

Wrin Piper’s internship runs through mid-August, but The Oaklandside and its partners plan to continue the program and host other Laney journalism students beginning next summer, if not sooner. 

“The partnership between Laney College, The Lede, and The Oaklandside is a win for students, who gain practical industry experience in a newsroom that is rooted in community, truth, and representation,” said Eleni Gastis, chair of the journalism department at Laney. “The Oaklandside’s nonprofit, grassroots model pairs perfectly with the ethos of our newsroom and I am overjoyed about the potential that this collaboration will unlock for students.”

While The Oaklandside initially considered extending the internship opportunity to students across the Bay Area and beyond, it was Laney College and its award-winning journalism department that most aligned with the organization’s mission to foster a community-centered newsroom for Oakland.

It’s a value that’s equally important to Joaquin Alvarado, co-owner of The Lede.

“As a proud supporter of The Oaklandside and alumni of Laney College, it is really important for us as Oaklanders to invest in fact-based news and information that is produced in and for the community,” said Alvarado. “This project represents the values and mission of The Lede and we hope others join us.”

Keep an eye out for more stories from Wrin Piper in the days to come. And if you’d like to support our continuing efforts to provide opportunities for journalism students at Laney College, you can do so by becoming a member of our nonprofit news organization and letting us know that your donation is being made to support The Lede Reporter in Residence program. 

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 at Fusion 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. He is an advisory board member for Youth Beat, a graduate of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and a former producer with KPFA's First Voice apprenticeship program.