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BHS ‘Jacket’ Alum Becomes New Editor-in-Chief of ‘Berkeleyside’

'Berkeleyside' Editor-in-Chief Pamela Turntine reflects on her career path, including her time at BHS and experience working on the 'Jacket.'

Pamela Turntine, longtime Bay Area resident and the new editor-in-chief of Berkeleyside, has had an extensive past in journalism. Born in San Francisco and primarily raised in different parts of Oakland and Berkeley, Turntine’s work has taken her all over California throughout a career spanning over 40 years. Although she has lived and worked in many different places, Turntine’s connection to the city of Berkeley starts long before her new employment at Berkeleyside.

A Berkeley High School (BHS) graduate from the class of ‘76, Turntine witnessed a version of BHS with many similarities to the one that students see today. She enrolled in the Jacket‘s print layout class, where she worked to assemble and produce the Jacket, providing her with her first real introduction into the world of journalism. In relation to what she learned, Turntine stated, “It definitely influenced me in some ways. It allowed me to learn about the business of journalism from the back end and how to produce a newspaper.”

Turntine also stated her deep respect for the unique experience that BHS provides. As a diverse school, both racially and socioeconomically, she views her time there as very eye-opening, and even compared BHS to a college. Turntine reflected, “I knew I would get a good education, but it also opened me up to other worlds. Berkeley High had so many people from so many different walks of life. It wasn’t just Black kids and white kids, there were people from all over the world, and I understand it remains to be that way.”

After her graduation from BHS, Turntine enrolled at California State University at Long Beach (CSULB), where she majored in broadcast journalism. This was inspired in part by her older sister who had majored in mass communications, and in part by broadcast journalists she had begun to take notice of throughout high school. Turntine remarked, “I knew, even as a young person, that I wanted a career and not just a job. When I started seeing faces that looked like me and the type of work they were doing, it just sparked my interest. They were some of my role models back then.”

At CSULB, Turntine remembers a professor recommending a background in newspaper journalism before further pursuing broadcast journalism, which prompted her to find a job at the Long Beach Press Telegram after graduation. Hired initially as an intern, then later transitioning into full-time work as a sports writer, Turntine spent 16 years there, near the end of which she began work as a copy editor for the sports desk.

After a move back to San Jose in 2001, Turntine started at the Contra Costa Times in 2002, as a copy editor for the sports desk, and later as a copy editor for the news section. However, once the Contra Costa Times was bought out by MediaNews, Turntine moved to the Oakland Tribune, another MediaNews paper, where she was hired as a night city editor, before being promoted to managing editor. After around six years there, she moved to Mercury News, where she has spent the last five to six years as the Senior Breaking News Editor and Deputy Metro Editor.

When reflecting on her past jobs, Turntine stated, “I’ve been the only woman in the room, the only Black woman, the only Black person, but I’ve always felt comfortable in my environment and worked with really great people.”

All of this experience is part of what makes Turntine so well equipped to be the new editor-in-chief at Berkeleyside. Although Turntine wasn’t seeking out a new job, when a friend came to her asking if she might be interested in the position, she decided to look into it, and after starting interviews in February, she accepted the position in March. 

Turntine remarked, “When I started talking with Frances, Tracy, and Lance, the position seemed like it resonated with me a lot. Getting into local journalism, trying to connect with underserved communities, it really looked like a new skill set I would be learning, and I’m always on the lookout to try something new. I wanted to concentrate on community, and that’s what Berkeleyside is all about.”

Berkeleyside was founded almost 12 years ago by journalists Frances Dinkelspiel, Tracey Taylor and Lance Knobel, as an online news platform dedicated to local journalism. Turntine said of the purpose of Berkeleyside, “Being the main news outlet in Berkeley, our whole focus is to listen to the residents, hear what they have to say, and pick up on any news that comes from the community, our tipline, or emails. It’s important to get out there and make connections with the people that we’re covering and let them know that we exist, and we want to tell their stories.”

The position of editor-in-chief became available after Dinkelspiel and Taylor decided to step back from their roles at Berkeleyside, and instead focus on their new venture, Cityside, a “non-profit, civic journalism organization that publishes both Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside.” 

As the new editor-in-chief, Turntine’s plans for Berkeleyside don’t stray far from their original image. She hopes to increase their roster of freelance writers, grow their audience, and most of all, maintain the integrity of the news they publish. Turntine stated, “Berkeleyside has been around for almost 12 years now, and they’ve built a great reputation for themselves regionally, and even nationally, so whatever I do will just build on what already exists.”

Turntine’s passion for all forms of journalism, from local to breaking news, makes her the perfect addition to Berkeleyside’s hard-working team, and readers can only expect positive developments. In relation to her love for journalism, she stated, “Journalism allows you to write, to tell people’s stories, and to delve into countless different topics, and I would encourage anybody who is interested to get involved.” As a local paper, Berkeleyside’s responsibility is to the community, and Pamela Turntine is a direct reflection of those values.

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