In the summer of 2006, while a graduate student at San Jose State University, I reported for the ANG Regional Desk at the Oakland Tribune. ANG was the umbrella organization for all the MediaNews Group newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, and the company had just purchased the San Jose Mercury News.
The desk I was on focused on investigative and enterprise stories, along with state politics. Our stories often ran as Sunday or Monday centerpieces in all the Bay Area papers owned by the same company, reaching more than 700,000 readers at times.
Here are a few of my favorite stories from that summer:
- Behind the label: Certifiers weed through plenty to keep organic farmers in the green — I think the draft of this I turned in topped out around 63 inches. It ran as a Sunday centerpiece six or seven weeks after I finished my internship. The highlight of the reporting, for me, was doing a ride-along during an inspection. Learned a lot about organic certification, of course, including a well-informed opinion about which certifiers to trust. A year later, my FOIAs all rolled in: USDA evaluations of the top 10 organic certifiers in the country. Pretty sure I still have those files somewhere…
- ‘Wind is renewable and the fuel is free’ — A good explainer on modern wind turbines circa 2006, this ran with a large photo and a cute graphic comparing the height of the turbines to such tall items as the Statue of Liberty. I still have a little nick in my windshield that I picked up on the highway driving too close to a gravel truck on the way back down to Oakland that day.
- Sick welders seek justice from KFM — This was part of a long investigative series by the Oakland Tribune, and ran as a sidebar to a centerpiece written by Erik Nelson and I, updating the Tribune’s reporting based on then-newly-public documents from a Cal/OSHA investigation of the folks that were building that fancy new Bay Bridge. I spent a ton of time in a downtown Oakland OSHA office with a portable copy machine that was a) heavy, b) prone to behaving badly, and c) always out of toner. The Mercury News ran our joint-byline story on the local front, but added a clause to our lede, saying “The Oakland Tribune alleges…”
- Women get their blog on — A preview of BlogHer 2006, the second edition of the conference for (mostly) women bloggers. Highlight? A phone interview with Finslippy.