The Daily Californian Alumni of the Year Spotlight: Noah Berger

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This spring, the Daily Californian will celebrate its Co-Alumni of the Year at its alumni & friends event on March 14, where we will honor Noah Berger and Margaret Talbot. To purchase tickets to the event or raffle tickets for our annual raffle, please click the link attached here

With a portfolio of photographs spanning the globe, Bay Area-based freelance photographer Noah Berger has been recognized as one of the Daily Californian’s Alumni of the Year.

Berger joined the Daily Cal in August 1992, and on his first day, Oakland Police shot and killed a protester who broke into the Chancellor’s house. During his first night as a staff photographer, Berger photographed protests on Telegraph Avenue following the shooting, which he said made him “excited” to continue.

“I ended up making $125 my first day, and I thought ‘this is amazing that I could do this and get paid,’” Berger said. “That’s really what got me hooked on journalism.”

In his nearly three years working at the Daily Cal, Berger took on multiple roles, from staff photographer, to executive news editor, to opinion columnist. Berger said the Daily Cal provided him with his only training in journalism that ultimately propelled him to a professional career as a freelance photographer. His photos have appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Berger earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his work photographing the Camp Fire in 2018 and has dedicated much of his recent career to photographing wildfires. Though these fires offer photographers a unique opportunity to be surrounded by an immense “force of nature,” Berger emphasized the destruction and horror he witnessed while on assignment, saying it was “devastating.”

“It’s a challenge — you’re not dealing with mundane parts of life,” Berger said. “You have to deal with just you out there living in your car and trying to get the best photos you can.”

In just a few years working for the Daily Cal, Berger received many assignments that still stick with him, including one after the Free Speech Movement Cafe instituted a clothing optional policy. Berger tagged along with a friend using the computer in the cafe to take photos — both while naked.

He also recounted an impulsive afternoon drive to Oakland to purchase a motorcycle with his then-photo editor, who taught Berger how to ride it in his garage that day. Berger can still be found pictured on this motorcycle on the wall of the Daily Cal’s multimedia room.

Berger said the Daily Cal was “mixed in with life,” adding that he still works with many people he met through the newspaper and made lasting friendships.

“I have a very warm place in my heart for the Daily Cal,” Berger said. “It gave me this job that I  love — this life that I love.”

Contact Amanda Bradford at [email protected]