Monday, December 19, 2011

Seasons Greetings from the OTT!

Just last week, 10,000 copies of our first issue of the year went out to students in more than 25 Oakland schools. The paper featured more than two dozen stories for, by and about teens. Highlights included:

* An article on the California Dream Act by Media Academy senior Aleanna Santos. The story explained the new law and its impact on undocumented students, including "Jessica," an honor student at Fremont Federation of High Schools who was carried over the border as an infant and dreams of majoring in child development at UC Davis or Berkeley.

* Silver Bowl football championship photos and coverage by Silvia Tapia-Cardona and Ashley Stills of McClymonds High. (Tapia-Cardona was named "contributor of the issue" for her Silver Bowl coverage and a witty piece on a dance class she's been forced to take instead of P.E.)

* A set of five book reviews by Skyline High School reporter Reyna Colt-Lacoya and a set of four film reviews by a pair of students at East Oakland School of the Arts.

Check out the newspaper at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sad day for OTT

The holidays this year will be a bittersweet time for the Oaktown Teen Times. One of our contributors, Marquis Woolfolk, a student at Dewey Academy, was shot and killed near his East Oakland home on Nov. 21.

Co-managing editor Beatrice Motamedi worked with Marquis on a page one story for our October 2009 issue about his four-day stint on the Bay Bridge. Marquis was one of three Oakland students selected to work on the Bay Bridge retrofit, and he often talked about his experiences there and how much they meant to him.

Beatrice wrote a story for the Oakland Tribune about working with Marquis. You can read it here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Up Close with Michael Pollan, Michael Lewis

Three Oaktown Teen Times writers and the paper's managing editors heard two of America's most celebrated journalists tell stories and speak on the craft of journalism during a fundraiser event in Berkeley on Sept. 23.

Juan Ramos of Media Academy and Kimberly Guzman and Julio Madrigal of Mandela Academy said they enjoyed listening to Michael Pollan and Michael Lewis during a 90-minute program that was designed to raise money for the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley. Pollan wrote "The Omnivore's Dilemma" along with other best-selling books, while Lewis authored "The Blind Side," "Moneyball" and "The Big Short."

During "Michael x Michael," which took place at Berkeley Reperatory Theatre, the two authors chatted on stage with each other about how they write and what future they believe is in store for journalism, especially long-form narrative journalism. After about 45 minutes of conversation, the two writers took questions from the audience.

Although the students did not pose questions during the event, Ramos caught up with Pollan and Lewis as they exited the theater, before the two writers dashed to a dinner honoring them.

"What advice would you give to students to improve their eating," Ramos asked Pollan, who has written extensively about food and the food industry.

"Visit a farmers' market," answered Pollan.

The UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism donated tickets to the Oaktown Teen Times so that the three students and their editors, Beatrice Motamedi and Lisa Shafer, could attend the event.

"We are grateful for the support of the Berkeley J-School," said Shafer. "I would not be surprised if they see some of our OTT writers enrolling in their prestigious program down the road."

Monday, August 2, 2010

OTT editors form Bay Area Youth Journalism

The editors of the Oaktown Teen Times proudly announce the emergence of Bay Area Youth Journalism, or BAY-J, which will serve as an umbrella organization for the teen newspaper and other scholastic journalism projects and programs.

"The creation of Bay Area Youth Journalism reflects our mission to expand our services beyond putting out one newspaper in one city," said Lisa Shafer, co-executive director of BAY-J and co-managing editor of the Oaktown Teen Times.

Beatrice Motamedi, the other executive director of BAY-J and managing editor of the Oaktown Teen Times, elaborated on the decision.

"Our new name reflects our desire to open more opportunities for students besides publishing, such as college scholarships and travel to national journalism conventions," she said. "BAY-J also hopes to collaborate more and more with other schools and journalism groups throughout the Bay Area."

The Oaktown Teen Times, a non-profit newspaper written for and by teens in Oakland, will retain its name. The paper goes out to 10,000 teens in Oakland and is printed free of charge by the Oakland Tribune. It is fiscally sponsored by Media Alliance.

Those interested in supporting BAY-J financially may use the "Donate Now" button on this Website and make a tax-deductible donation through Media Alliance and the Oaktown Teen Times.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eleven OTT writers win state awards

Eleven Oaktown Teen Times students picked up awards at a ceremony for California high school journalists at San Francisco's Conservartory of Flowers on May 17.

This year's contest, sponsored by the Northern California Press Women, included entries from all over California because the director of the southern chapter reportedly fell ill and could not run the regional contest.

Taking home second place prizes were Jose Alvarenga and Fuey Saechao of Fremont Federation's Media Academy and Monica Floyd of Skyline High. A judge called Alvarenga and Saechao's feature story "Teens Warm Up Laborer’s Days” one of the top stories in the contest. Judge Jim Finefrock wrote that Floyd's opinion piece "Generation Ignorant Misuses Tech Tools" was "classic."

Judges also were impressed with work done by students at Oakland High and Castlemont Business, Information and Technology School (CBITS) for the news story "Two students fatally shot in 16-day span" and awarded them a third-place prize. Writers were Onisha Barham, Thao Tran and Rosey Uribe of Oakland High and Devonna Atkins and Ameriah Hayes of CBITS.

Jack Mejia, another Media Academy student, won a third prize for her feature story "Can vampires build your SAT vocab?" and Oakland Unity High students Karina Gonzalez and Jessica Ortega won an honorable mention in features for "The Quinceanera – pricey rite of passage."

Before the awards, students, advisers and family members received a tour of the Conservatory of Flowers, part of the Golden Gate Park that needed to be rebuilt when strong winds blew out the structure's glass windows in 1995

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Journalists Thank Donors for Portland Trip

Here is one of four letters written by students to donors who helped fund an OTT trip to Portland, Ore., for a journalism convention in April.

Dear Donors,

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to go to Portland for the journalism convention. That was my first time going on an airplane and it was a fun experience. I enjoyed meeting new people from different states. It gave me a chance to talk to other students about their newspapers and how their newspaper classes operate. It gave me a chance to see how different Oakland is from Portland. For example, we have to pay for BART in Oakland, but in Portland they get to ride it for free. Also, Portland has no sales tax! I also learned that Portland takes recycling seriously. It was a good experience to go out of California and explore something new. Overall, this was an experience I’ll never forget and I would love to do it all over again. Thanks so much once again.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Nine OTT writers win Bay Area journalism awards

Nine Oaktown Teen Times reporters from four Oakland high schools are on a list of winners in a prestigious Bay Area journalism contest.

The students will find out just what they've won in the National Federation of Press Women's annual contest during a May 17 ceremony at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco.

The NFPW released its list of 142 winners on May 7. OTT winners are Ameriah Hayes and DeVonna Atkins of Castlemont Business and Information Technology School, Jose Alvarenga, Jack Mejia and Fuey Saechao of Fremont Federation's Media Academy, Onisha Barham, Thao Tran and Rosey Uribe of Oakland High and Monica Floyd of Skyline High.

The awards will follow a press conference and tour in the renovated Conservatory of Flowers, located in Golden Gate Park.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gang injunction press conference held for OTT writers

City Attorney John Russo points to a 100-block "Safety Zone" on a map of Oakland that would be set up if a judge grants the city an injunction against the North Side Oakland gang. Russo and Captain Anthony Toribio of the Oakland Police Department held a press conference for Oaktown Teen Times journalists on April 19 at Media Academy on the Fremont Federation of High Schools campus. About 40 students and teachers attended the event.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oakland students heading to national journalism convention

Get current in Portland! Five Oakland students, plus adviser Daniel Zarazua (Unity High School), writing coach Nadine Joseph, and co-managing editors Lisa Shafer and Beatrice Motamedi, are heading to Portland on April 14 for the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention.

During their three-day stay, students will listen to keynote speakers (including Nigel Jaquiss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for Willamette Week), meet with professional journalists, and attend workshops on everything from writing basics and the role of women in sports reporting to journalism ethics and the latest in multimedia.

A successful fundraising push in March enabled OTT to offer financial support to five students: Fuey Saechao and Carolyn Saephan (Media Academy); Julie Ortega and Bianca Ramos (Unity High); and Pamela Tapia (EXCEL High School).

For some of these students, going to Portland is a real first — the first time they've been out of the Bay Area, the first time they've been on a plane, the first time they'll meet other journalism students from around the country.

In an essay applying for the trip, sophomore Julie Ortega said that journalism helps her express herself and give back to her community.

"Journalists have an important role in society because they are the main people who are able to inform people about many news and events," Ortega wrote. "They tell people what they think is unfair or unjust .... without it, people will not be able to know about events that happen or what the government is planning to do."

We couldn't agree more. Congratulations to Julie and all of our student journalists!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good news in December

Our second issue of the Oaktown came off the press this week with 30 stories/features from 8 schools -- Oakland High, Castlemont/CBITS, Fremont/Mandela, McClymonds/EXCEL, Skyline, Fremont/Media Academy, Oakland Technical and Unity High. To date, more than 75 students have contributed to the newspaper. Almost all low-income students of color.

As of 7:41 p.m. on December 15, the Oaktown Teen Times is $273 away from fulfilling its Donors Choose grant, with a match from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation!

Those who wish to donate to this all-city newspaper, can send a check, payable to Oaktown Teen Times, c/o Media Alliance, 1904 Franklin Street, Suite 500, Oakland, CA 94612.

Check back with us soon on this blog as we hope to provide links to our updated newspaper website.