The California Local News Fellowship prepares its inaugural cohort of fellows for their journey into newsrooms across the state

L-R: 2023 Fellows and 2023 Advisory Board

In early September, the California Local News Fellowship welcomed its 39 inaugural fellows to Berkeley Journalism to connect, learn, and prepare for their launch into local newsrooms across the state. 

Our goals for orientation week were twofold: to build community among the fellows and prepare them to enter the communities and newsrooms where they will spend the next two years.

Workshops and discussions aimed to equip our fellows with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in today’s ever-evolving, resource-strapped media landscape. We focused on approaches to quickly gaining an understanding of California and community issues, building diverse source pools, planning for community listening and engagement, and exploring the intersection of personal identity and reporting, among other topics.

“UC Berkeley is my undergraduate alma mater and to return to campus for the realm of the California Local News Fellowship was a feeling of indescribable homecoming, gratitude, and pride. The orientation further served to make me (us all!) feel welcomed, celebrated, and like we belonged.”

– Jia H. Jung, Asian American News (San Francisco, CA)

“I have to say my world feels immensely larger and more wonderful now that I’m here and have met you all :). Excited to see what everyone does and stay connected.”

– Gladys Vargas, Vida Newspaper (Oxnard, CA)
Left: Group exercise. Center: Fellows Philip Salata and Jia H. Jung. Right: Fellows Gladys Vargas and Jesse Kathan.

Orientation speakers and panelists included Fiona Morgan (Branchead Consulting), Alexis Madrigal (KQED), Julie B. Chan and Kate Sosin (The 19th* News), Martin Reynolds (Maynard Institute), Sonja Sharp (Los Angeles Times), Sasha Khokha (KQED), and Mark Schoofs (USC Annenberg).

images of panelists speaking
Left: Fiona Morgan, Center: Mark Schoofs, Sasha Khokha, Sonja Sharp, Martin Reynolds, Right: Kate Sosin, Julie B. Chan, Alexis Madrigal

The fellows’ first day in their newsrooms was September 11th. Within days they were publishing stories, including:

We invite you to stay connected with the California Local News Fellowship as the program unfolds. Throughout the year, we’ll share stories, insights and highlights from our fellows and their newsrooms. We will continue to post updates here and you can follow our progress by subscribing for more information.


The California Local News Fellowship program is a multi-year, state-funded initiative to support and strengthen local news reporting in California, with a focus on underserved communities. The fellowship orientation was made possible through generous support from the California Health Care Foundation.