Martin G. Reynolds honored as Innovator of the Year

Martin G. Reynolds addresses graduates of the Oakland Voices program, which he had originally conceived and has continued to run. Reynolds was named Innovator of the Year for this and other efforts like it. (George Kelly/Bay Area News Group)
Headline: Oakland Voices
Outlet: Bay Area News Group
Journalist: Martin G. Reynolds
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Martin G. Reynolds

Martin G. Reynolds

Judges chose Martin G. Reynolds as Innovator of the Year for 2012 in Digital First Media newsrooms.

“The projects Martin has spearheaded continue to push the Tribune and Bay Area News Group in new and dynamic directions,” Oakland Tribune Managing Editor Pamela Turntine said of Reynolds, former editor of the Tribune. “He truly is an innovator in our organization and in our industry.”

The nomination by BANG East Bay Metro Editor Katherine Rowlands (lightly edited here) explains Reynolds’ innovative leadership:

Martin G. Reynolds, senior editor for community engagement for BANG and DFM’s Western Region, has been an innovator since he began his tenure at The Oakland Tribune as an intern in 1995. Since taking on his new role, Reynolds has spearheaded innovative projects that touch on key areas of emphasis for the company.

Oakland VoicesOakland Voices

  • The ground-breaking community storytelling project was co-founded by Reynolds after three years of planning. Since its start in 2010-11, OV has graduated 18 correspondents and published more than 200 stories online and in print, with only one minor correction.
  • Reynolds found funding for the project from The California Endowment and approached members of BANG’s Operating Committee to get in-kind support from Facilities, Online and IT.
  • Reynolds worked on every component of the project, including the training curriculum, participant selection, website design, editing and overseeing grant content goals.
  • Reynolds personally wrote the initial proposal to support the project and co-wrote the most recent grant that supported the 2012-13 class of OV correspondents.
  • Reynolds worked to assuage early concerns raised by assigning and line editors about the non-traditional tone of OV content, which ultimately led to greater acceptance.
  • The success of the 2012-13 OV class has fueled current efforts to expand Voices beyond Oakland to LANG and beyond.

Philanthropic supported reporting project

  • Over the past year, Reynolds has co-authored grants totaling $340,000 from The California Endowment to support reporting and community engagement efforts.
  • These funds went to support the most recent class of Oakland Voices, and the continuing work of Violence Reporting Fellow Scott Johnson, whose position was among the first endowed reporting beats in the nation. The Oakland Effect project set a precedent for the creation of such beats, which have since been replicated in other news organizations such as The McClatchy Company.
  • At Reynolds’ direction, the violence reporting fellowship also paired Johnson with Oakland Voices correspondents who produced a joint reporting assignment called “Health in the Hood,” where correspondents surveyed their neighborhoods to assess what makes them more or less healthy places to live. 
  • The fellowship also included unique community engagement components such as a series of public forums, webinars, and a forum Johnson moderated on gun laws following the Aurora, Colorado shooting. These engagement efforts were highlighted as a model at a recent USC Annenberg School of Journalism conference.
  • Johnson has won three CNPA awards for his work.

Ongoing engagement work

  • Since taking over his new role as engagement editor, with no designated budget or staff, Reynolds has set the standard for face-to-face engagement, planning 20 community engagement classes, eight engagement mixers, the Oakland Tribune grand opening and 11 public forums.
  • Reynolds recently penned “The Engagement Playbook” for editors in LANG which served as a blueprint for the group’s emerging engagement efforts.

Judges explained why Reynolds was the winner:

Innovation is often the first victim of tight budgets, so Martin G. Reynolds’ achievement in nurturing various collaborative reporting and engagement projects for the Oakland Tribune is particularly impressive. Oakland Voices, which Reynolds co-founded, offers varied, often unexpected insights into the community it serves by members of that community. provides a powerful, provocative perspective on crime of value to audiences well beyond the Bay Area. We also appreciate that he is extending his innovation to the equally important financial side, a rarity for journalists.

Other finalists for Innovator of the Year:

Reynolds was named in December 2011 as senior editor for community engagement for the Bay Area News Group. He began his career at the Oakland Tribune as a Chips Quinn Scholar intern in 1995 and worked his way through the ranks, serving as editor-in-chief from 2007 to 2011. He was one of the lead editors on the award-winning Chauncey Bailey Project investigating the assassination of the former Oakland Post editor and Tribune reporter.

Reynolds was among the lead editors for the “Not Just a Number” project examining youth violence in Oakland, which won the Knight Award for Public Service from the Online News Association in 2006. He is an at-large board member of the Associated Press Media Editors. He recently started his blog Rules of Engagement which chronicles his engagement work with BANG.

In his other life, Reynolds is a professional lyricist who has performed in major shows, including the Monterey, Istanbul and San Francisco Jazz festivals, and has performed alongside artists including Wu Tang Klan, Carlos Santana, Christian McBride and Joshua Redman. His music can be found on iTunes with groups Mingus Amungus and Bop City Pacific.

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