New home for J-School’s investigative program and Daily Cal

The Daily Cal student newspaper and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, part of the Graduate School of Journalism, will work shoulder to shoulder in a newly purchased campus building on Hearst Avenue, starting today (Friday, Aug. 3).

Acquisition of the $2.5 million, 5,718-square-foot building was made possible by a gift from Liz Simons, an alumna of both the UC Berkeley journalism school and the Daily Cal, through the Heising-Simons Foundation. The Graduate School of Journalism, housed kitty corner across Hearst in North Gate Hall, contributed $250,000 as well.

The building, now named the Center for Independent Journalism, will provide rent-free quarters for both the independent student newspaper and the IRP, which has occupied offices on the site for several years. The IRP is headed by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and producer Lowell Bergman, who is the Reva and David Logan Distinguished Professor of Investigative Reporting at the Graduate School of Journalism.

The Daily Cal is moving out of Eshleman Hall on the campus’s south side today, in advance of the building’s demolition next year to make way for a revitalized Lower Sproul Plaza.

The move will save the struggling news operation $50,000 a year in rent and utilities, according to editor-in-chief Stephanie Baer. That will help stabilize finances for the Daily Cal, which faces all the readership and advertising challenges common to the news industry in the digital age.

“I thought the Daily Cal deserved to have its own home, and it’s a great opportunity for the university’s journalism program to be in close proximity,” said Simons, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the J-School in 1982 and, as a student, wrote for the paper. She now serves on its board of directors.

“It’s a natural pairing of these two entities,” she added.

Sharing the same building will allow the Daily Cal to deepen its working relationship with the journalism school, Baer said. “In the last couple years … Daily Cal staffers have had the chance to take grad-school courses in journalism and work with notable journalists like Lowell Bergman. Our relationship will only get better and students will benefit greatly from the expertise at the J-School.”

“We’re just delighted to have the Daily Cal as our new neighbors,” said Tom Goldstein, professor of journalism, director of the Media Studies Program and interim journalism dean.

The Investigative Reporting Program was established in 2006, formalizing pioneering work begun in 1992 in seminars taught by Bergman. Since then, it has produced dozens of stories on subjects ranging from the practices of the credit-card industry to terrorist threats in the United States and Europe. Projects have appeared on such national television programs as PBS’s Frontline and in many national publications, including the New York Times.

Recently, the IRP shared a 2011 Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) award for its role in the documentary “Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America,” produced in collaboration with ProPublica, National Public Radio and Frontline.

The Daily Cal was established in 1871 and became an independent, student-run newspaper in 1971.

Baer said Monday’s edition would be published from Hearst Avenue. “We won’t be taking any breaks in our summer production schedule because of the move,” she said.