Rules of Engagement Oakland, CA

// Reporter volunteers with Oakland Voices to train residents to tell stories//


Oakland Tribune Breaking News Reporter Kristin Bender has been a strong supporter of the Oakland Voices community storytelling project. Want to know why? CLICK HERE

Oakland Voices mixer.

Oakland Voices mixer.

@thomas_peele speaks to a packed house @sjsu about accessing public records. Students and residents in attendance.

@thomas_peele speaks to a packed house @sjsu about accessing public records. Students and residents in attendance.

The iChicken

Just in time for the Holidays!

// MoJoing with the 49ers//

The MoJo Lab hit the street on Oct. 6, making an appearance at the San Francisco 49ers game. We talked to fans about the “Farewell Season,” and asked them to recall their most memorable moments at Candlestick Park.

We got some excellent Touts and mixed reactions about the team’s impending move to Santa Clara. A good number of fans who said they’d been going to games since the 1970s and 1980s lamented they won’t be joining the Niners in their new stadium next year. Whether due to cost, distance or commitment to tradition, the new stadium will be without some folks who represent the heart, soul and history of the Niners. What will this mean? We’ll just have to wait and see. 

Click on these photos to hear from the fans!


Fans sound off about their memories and the end of an era.


The Grand Plaza 


Niners fans begin streaming in to the Grand Plaza at Candlestick Park Oct. 6. This is a view from atop MoJo.

Neighborhood fans


This fan grew up just blocks from Candlestick Park. 

A relic? Or a treasure?


Security awaits the rush of fans coming for the Oct. 6 Houston Texas game. 

History for sale

imageThe commemorative cup being sold to fans. 

// Inaugural Smartphones Class a BIG hit//

On Oct. 7, San Jose Mercury News Technology Columnist Troy Wolverton jumped into the fray once again with BANG’s new Smartphones 101 class, held in the video conference room at the Merc. The class filed up during the registration period with the speed of Prince tickets going on sale. Despite the fact Troy wasn’t singing “Purple Rain” he still managed to capture the full attention of this 18 person class. 

As with the Tablets 101 class, Troy had very good visual presentation showing folks phones available on various platforms. He talked about price, functionality and went over the difference between the Android, Windows, Blackberry and Apple environments, apps and the like.


Troy Wolverton didn’t get out of the Merc until 8:25 p.m. because attendees cornered him with dozens of questions after class. He graciously answered them all. I left.

Analytics: How do we know engagement works?

In our exit survey asking folks how they felt about the class, again Troy got high marks. The most important question in the survey was answered unanimously. 

Question #6: If you were taking this class to help decide which smartphone is right for you, did you leave the class feeling confident you could make the right choice? 


Yes 100.0% 

No 0.0% 

The microphone drops, Wolverton struts off-stage, curtain closes. The encore is Oct. 21 when we hold the next Smartphones class at the Tribune. Click here to register

// Engagement going on at BANG//

In case you haven’t heard, Bay Area News Group journalists have  become quite the community resource. Known for their prowess in print and online, Thomas Peele, George Kelly and Troy Wolverton have been teaching outstanding classes on accessing public records, how to blog and use social networks, and tips on what to consider when buying or using a tablet.

Not necessarily known for his cheery bedside manner, Bay Area News Group Investigative Reporter and author Thomas Peele actually does a very nice job connecting with humans. If you’ve ever heard him on the phone demanding documents from government agencies, you’d think he was, well, unpleasant. When in fact, he has a real passion and deep knowledge of this issue and enjoys sharing this vital information with the community. Thomas talked about the lack of privacy in our world today, and how most folks would recoil if they realized just how much personal information could be found about them and their lives by doing just a little digging. He also explained the approach to requesting documents and provided attendees with an understanding of what to expect when dealing with a public agency. 


Tom Peele speaks to a gathering of Contra Costa Times readers Sept. 18

The same goes for Bay Area News Group Online Coordinator George Kelly, who has vast knowledge of blogging platforms and advised would-be bloggers on what to consider before entering the digital fray. “What are you going to be about on the web?” Kelly asked at a recent class at the Contra Costa Times. If your blog is full of mean people saying mean things (he actually used more colorful language), “it’s your fault.” Kelly was stressing the need for civility in the digital public square, as well as accountablility. Your blog is your responsibility, he said. Don’t let it be hijacked.


George Kelly explains blogs and blogging platforms to a full house at a recent “Blogging for Beginners” class in Walnut Creek. 

Tablets: You know you love them!

Then there is the always informative and smooth Troy Wolverton, the well-known San Jose Mercury News technology columnist. Troy helped explain the world of tablets to some that already have devices and others planning to make a purchase. So far, his classes have been among the most attended and we’re moving on to smartphones next. Troy talked about functionality, price and usage, explaining that some folks think they want a tablet, when it fact, they might be better served by investing in a laptop. Tablets are great for curling up on the couch and surfing the web, using apps, reading email or watching movies. If you want to do a bunch of typing or production work, you are better served getting a laptop or desktop, Wolverton says.


Troy Wolverton speaks to a class of more than 30 people inside Room 202 at the Contra Costa Times.

The Feedback

So far, the feedback on these classes has been very positive and in September alone, we had more than 100 people participate in Oakland, San Jose and Walnut Creek. More classes are set for this month and through December. Thanks again to Troy, Tom and George. You are providing an outstanding service to the community. This work is about recasting and expanding our role in the communities we cover. It is clearly having an impact.

According to the exit surveys we’ve conducted, more than 90 percent of respondents said the classes were worthwhile and engaging, that they are a great way to connect to the community, and close to 80 percent said it would make them more likely to remain engaged with the organization in the future.

At a time when we need to go beyond just the journalism we do to define ourselves and who we are to the communities we cover, these classes are an effective means to do just that. 

Feedback from one Access to Public Records survey respondent:

"I particularly liked the excellent handout which was well written. I found Tom Peele very articulate and interesting, providing insight into his experience with various agencies. I would enjoy learning about net research that your journalists find worthwhile. I would also be interested in a discussion of the following subjects (certainly, not in one class!): First Amendment issues (current controversies, common problems re. privacy of sources or subjects) and ethical issues in current journalism (again, a mini-review, with an emphasis on current controversies as illustrations). I would also like to understand how letters to the editor are selected, because they often reflect a narrow point of view."

Good stuff!

The Marin IJ’s Dan Allen atop MoJo.

The Marin IJ’s Dan Allen atop MoJo.

// Mobile Journalism (@newsmojo) has shared a tweet with you//

.@newsmojo outside @ecountytimes 2day. Great staff looking 4word 2 community engagement in #antioch #mobilejournalism — Mobile Journalism (@newsmojo)

Bay Area News Group photographers D. Ross Cameron and Jane Tyska talk about covering significant events.

Martin G. Reynolds is senior editor for community engagement for Bay Area News Group and Digital First Media's Western Region. This blog will chronicle engagement efforts and other topics of interest.