Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I am a reporter, that is what I do

I have started to write again for the Walnut Weekly News. For some reason, the publisher decided to change the masthead and it is now called "Our Weekly Newspaper" but most people still call it the Weekly News.

I may be a small fish and not working for big media print outlets like the L.A. Times or the OC Register, but I feel that I still make a contribution in my industry and chosen profession.

It's interesting, while reporting at the OC Register this summer I had a backstage view of the goings on in the newsroom and their plans to expand to Long Beach. Shout outs to my many friends fighting the good fight there like Raymond Mendoza, Alma Fausto, Jackie Moe, Evan Lancaster and a few others.

The next few weeks into the holiday are going to be busy with projects to end the year and with my thesis and research for CSUF, but I feel pretty good about the upcoming year, 2014 is looking up. I maintain optimistic about the future. I will be Dr. Gail Love's section of history and philosophy of mass communications, while continuing to freelance for various news outlets like the Walnut Weekly and (hopefully) an online news agency like the Voice of OC.

The Register continues to post from time to time stories that I wrote during my tenure in Santa Ana and Tustin, here is a link to the latest:

Five questions with family caregiver Josefina Ortiz

Well, that is all for now, I will post again sometime, I am on my way to cover a city council meeting


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Redskins: Will they Change the Name to Appease Political Correctness???

Well hey there, I haven't blogged in such a long time.

The reason being, ever since I finished my summer internship at the OC Register, I have been busy concentrating on grad school. I got A's this summer, but this fall has proven harder with quantitative research and having to research my thesis topic as well.

Also, the tiger and I haven't been doing much journalistic work, but that may soon change as in addition to covering sports for the Tribune, we might get another reporting internship, this time with the Voice of OC. I am having coffee with the editor next week.

So what's been in the news bugging me lately? The Washington Redskins! The Politically correct run amok crowd, or some indian tribe wants the team to change the name because the term is apparently insulting to Native Americans. I guess historically it is, but why has the controversy made headlines of late? I mean the team has had that name for close to 8 or so decades. The owner says he will never change the name because it was chosen to honor the team's first coach, who was part Indian, or so the legend goes.

I don't know how to honestly feel about this one. I know a lot of Native Americans say that they are not bothered by the name, that it just honors their history but others say that they don't know what they are taking about.

All I know is that one of my fondest memories of being a kid is decorating the Christmas Tree one day and putting up decorations with the rest of my family while in the living room of my old house. The Skins and the Cowboys played on the tube and I would sneak peeks to see how the game was progressing, my brother and I both did while the rest of the family cooked, helped with decorations. I can almost vividly replay that over and over in my head, a moment in time I will always treasure, that Sunday seemed to last an eternity. So it seems weird if the Cowboys end up playing the Red Hawks, or some other name they give the team if they decide to change it. What's next? Will they go after the Cleveland Indian's mascot?

President Obama came out to say that he would think about changing the name if he was the team's owner. Doesn't the President have more pressing issues to consider than to meddle into the NFL???

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Michele Martinez speaks about Improving Santa Ana

One of the cool stories I got to do this summer was an interview with Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez. An excerpt of the interview which made it to print follows.

Councilwoman Michele Martinez, 31, says great changes are coming to the city – especially when it comes to health. The city is making major strides, she said, in increasing park space and in its commitment to a resolution passed by the City Council in 2011 that advocates for policies that improve residents' health. Here's what Martinez, who also serves as the director of the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County, had to say.

Q. Does the city receive state or other funding for health-related programs?
A. We really don't have any funding sources for health programs. What we've done is used our public works, planning and parks and recreations departments. They have all collaborated to get grants, whether it be for bike lanes or walk and bike studies. We also partnered with the school district to get Garfield and Willard and Walker community centers. So we have the parks and the community centers that during the day the schools utilize and at night the community then takes over. We got state grants for that.

Q. How is the city addressing walking and biking?
A. We as a council made a commitment to integrating complete streets in the city. We passed a resolution. We are also updating our circulation elements which will include a bike and pedestrian master plan, for the first time ever. It's our commitment to active transportation.

Q. How does the city recognize those that promote healthy lifestyles?
A. We've had a committee in place for the past two years, of nonprofits and businesses, that gives input in how to move the city forward. It was instrumental in creating a smoke-free park zone. (She also points to Active Living in Santa Ana, Safe and Active Living United District, and Building Healthy Communities as key health groups.)

Q. What's being done to increase the number of parks in the city?
A. We knew that we were going to have issues, such as the lack of open space, that created issues with kids being overweight – and another issue is the safety component. There is a gang problem and drug problem in the city because it's an urban city and so that also affects the quality of life of young people and their families. (Some) are scared even with the park access that they do have. So we are having to address these issues all at once. We are addressing them with a holistic approach, with a partnership with the school district (and) the various nonprofits, because at the end of the day, we know that the city government can't do it all, it has to be a collaborative effort, a personal effort from the residents themselves.

Q. Why are plans being put into motion now?
A. As the director of the Alliance, I am going back and asking, 'What is it that this city accomplished? What is that other cities accomplished? If they haven't gotten anywhere, what can my organization do to help them?' We realize that there are issues with funding, we know cities have taken a big hit. So we have these city regulations from several years ago. We're saying let's backtrack because we need to keep out in the forefront. Santa Ana has been a model for the county. Being a council member for the city, I have the opportunity to hold my city accountable and to ensure that we are moving in the right direction and really setting some policies that can be a model that we make a commitment to. The fruits of labor have really come to the forefront for Santa Ana because of the dedicated staff that we have and also my colleagues on the council and their commitment to public health.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

OC Register internship coming to a close

wow it's August! How'd that happen? The Tiger and I spent a lot of time driving to Santa Ana and Tustin this summer. I was in Tustin just 3 days ago working on a story about Yong-In Martian Arts' team USA which competed at the 2013 National Taekwondo Championships.

As my internship at the Register comes to a close next week, I am looking around sending out feelers to other media outlets. Surely there must be one out there that can use an exepienced Spanish speaking reporter? There is an outside shot that I will be a member of the Tustin team in the future, but no guarantees, as such I have started to look for my next journalistic gig.

It was nice to come in today and find two stories ready for me to tackle as I like to stay busy doing good work.

Would not be surprised if a big change is in the works. That's it for now!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Moving on to Tustin

I was dealing with some personal issues this last week, but luckily I seem to have worked through them and now I am focused once again on reporting.

The Tiger and I spent a lot of time last week and driving to and from Long Beach to Fullerton, covering the Tustin Little League All Stars who were participating deep in a tournament. I have been transferred from the Santa Ana Register to the Tustin News team and I am excited to have been given the opportunity to cover this community.

Our other assignments involved driving to Santa Ana to speak to a world war 2 veteran whose distinguished military career included a stint as a helicopter pilot for Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was a P.O.W. when get got shout down in an aerial mission for years, until he was rescued and met General Patton himself!

Needless to say this was one of the highlights of the week, to meet and profile such an interesting person and he is 90 years old and still active in the community!!!

Well, that's it for now. Pleas support your local newspaper and purchase one today or subscribe!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Student Activists Question City's Contract with ICE in Santa Ana

On the evening of June 18, the Tiger and I headed toward Downtown Santa Ana to shadow S.A. Register news reporter Ron Gonzales to a public safety meeting where the issue of whether the city would retain its contract with Immigration and Costoms Enforcement (ICE) Department detainees which bring revenue to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, was being discussed.
   A number of community members, including student activist Carlos Perea protested the city’s contract with ICE and attended the meeting en masse to complaint to the city council about the situation.
   A few days later I met with Perea and his friend Alex Nava Teodoro. They are both advocates for immigrant youth, the former has been in the U.S. since the age of 14, but has not had an easy road to his current status as a college student and as an advocate in his community. While in high school Perea learned English in one year, determined to help other students struggling with issues of family separation. While there, Perea also took command of a club focusing on undocumented students, working with LGBTQ and other under-represented groups. He recently organized the first youth conference in the city and along with Teodoro.
     Here is a link to the story on the meeting written by Ron Gonzales. You may need to be an OC Register subscriber to read it all. However,what follows is a Q&A I conducted with them in the city’s cultural center. 

Q. Carlos, you are the winner of the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund, what does that honor mean to you personally?

Carlos: The scholarship supports students who are advocating for social change that work in the community and have an academic background. I was not expecting to get it because I’m a community college student. They usually give those types of grants to four year students. One of the things is that since I was in High School I was involved with my community and one of the reasons why I didn’t apply to a four year school straight out is I wanted to stay here. Obviously a community college is cheaper, but I had taken into consideration that the California Dream Act would take effect (in 2012) I have to pay out of my own pocket. I applied to the scholarship and I got it. It allowed me to keep on paying for school and also allowed me to keep on doing the work I do for my community. I feel it’s recognizing the work we do as immigrants, especially in this area. 

Q. The City of Santa Ana has been asked to cancel the ICE contract by concerned community members. Why is this such an important issue to the community at this time?

Alexis: It’s Important because amidst a national immigration reform and amidst the 2 million deportations that have happened during the Obama administration, amidst many deaths in the border, this impacts a lot of immigrants in Santa Ana. The city can send a really strong message inside one of the most Conservative counties and urge Obama to stop deportations by cancelling this contract. It would be sending the message that as a concerned community, it is not going to work with ICE who have had so many lawsuits filed against them for violating the human rights of undocumented immigrants.

Q. Carlos, When you were in High School you made it a point to work with other groups like LGBTQ, where did you get your passing for organizing and activism?

Carlos: I think it really started as a freshman. One of the first things I saw even within our own community was some type of looking down at our own people because you couldn’t speak the language, you were not assimilated into the culture. Even within teachers, you see they have a perception/bias towards immigration. You notice there’s a hostile environment, especially when you come to a conservative county. Even if you don’t know the context or the culture of Orange County, you come here and you perceive it.   I learned English in one year and was able to jump into regular classes and then take A.P. classes and catch up with the regular American students. It was during my summer to Junior year that I started to see the gap. I was one of the few, maybe one of two or three people, who was able to get ahead, the rest were held back because they didn’t know the language or did not have enough skills. I wanted to create something different. I wanted to help my friends to think about college. They were thinking about ‘I want to work because my parents are struggling,’ they were not provided that college information as much as the other students. You could see the inequality right there.

Q. What is the most pressing single issue facing the youth of Santa Ana today?

We have done surveys and we have done a lot of work on this. No. 1 is immigration because whether or not you are undocumented, we come from mixed status families. No. 2 is police issues. A big portion of the city’s budget is going to the Police Department. We tried to redefine what does public safety mean. Do we need that much money for the Police? You don’t have that much going into social services, libraries are being closed, and education. It could be argued not enough money has been allocated for education. 

Q. Who are your role models, who were your role models growing up and why?

Carlos: I would say my mom. She came to the U.S. when I was eight years old to look for a better future. Just the fact of her leaving her only child to look for a better place, it was hard on me, but it was harder on her and now she’s married and we have a family; but I know she struggled a lot. She worked in the textile industry. My family are my role models, they are hard-working people and they don’t do harm to the community, just the fact that they are being seen as criminals, you can do whatever to me, but don’t dehumanize my relatives and my family.   

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Santa Ana Register is Born

I am sorry that this blog has seen the light of day for so long without any updates. I figured that grad school would keep me really busy and I was right. Thus far it has been a successful academic endeavor as I managed to pull straight A's for the second semester in a row.

The Tiger and I have been very busy as my venture into CSUF has also allowed me the opportunity to take a summer internship at the Orange County Register.

My first week as an intern was very pleasant, after meeting with the internship coordinator and taking a tour of the newsroom, I was given my badge to get in and out of the building and parking structure and was whisked away into a room with other reporters working on various assignments.

I cannot possibly express with words how elated I felt to be working at a professional newsroom once again! The thrill of deadline, the hustle and bustle of the workflow and reporters going to and fro.

On the second day I met with members of the Excelsior staff who are working in tandem with the Santa Ana Register staffers in producing content. Excelsior is the Spanish language weekly the Register produces and publishes every Friday.  The Santa Ana Register is the weekly supplement to the main OC Register which covers Santa Ana. It debuted last week and is out on Thursdays. I am already working on 3 stories for the next edition.

The first edition of the S.A.R. featured a great story by reporter Alejandra Molina detailing a youth forum held recently in which city officials were asked why the city earmarks so much of its money for the S.A.Police Department. According to the article, City Council members Vincent Sarmiento and Roman Reyna participated, along with director of finance Francisco Gutierrez and assistant director Robert Cortez.
Cortez said the city is looking into what it could do with the jail because it's not generating any revenue. This was in response to inquiries over the city's contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house immigrant detainees at the city jail.

If I wasn't just an intern I would have jumped all over this story!! Alas there is another Register reporter working on it.

I was driving back from one of the local high schools where Target donated money to renovate the library as part of a national program and as I drove down the hot streets, I realized me and the Tiger would have to traverse the streets of this Southern California city on many occasions to come.

Monday, April 15, 2013

JACC Musings and the freedom of the press

I have decided I will continue to keep this blog more updated, despite my being busy with grad school.

I just got back from the Journalism Association of Community College's state convention held in Sacramento, CA this weekend. I had participated in this convention as a student in the past, even won a number of awards, and it was very interesting to do so as an editorial assistant for the journalism department at Mt. SAC where I currently work. There is a special feeling of having students go to workshops and learn about media law, public relations, editorial writing, social media and journalism and many other related topics. There is also something so awesome about getting there the first day and looking at the tables full of all the student produced publications in the entire state and later sitting down for dinner and watching an overhead slide presentation with the names of all these young people in journalism who are the future of our industry, most of whom are experienced and leaders in their respective campus publications.

Unfortunately our school did not receive awards this time around, on account of inexperience in our staff, high turnover of editors and a transition period with a temporary adviser who has nevertheless held the program pretty much together in the absence of our regular adviser. Speaking of leaves, I have been very troubled following the story of PCC's journalism adviser Warren Swil, who was placed on leave by Pasadena City College earlier this month. Most of us in the industry are concerned that this was a retaliation on the part of that campus' administration, even though the administration denies that.

It is troubling to even consider that our freedom of the press could be restricted by school administrators. I will continue to follow this case closely because I am intrigued by it and its possible repercussions. The latest report details that Swil is being helped by the Student Press Law Center, a representative of that organization also spoke at this weekend's convention.