This list is a companion to a paper on The Role of Media in the Struggling City of Compton, part of an independent study “Advanced Newswriting” course at Occidental College with advisors Bob Sipchen and Scott Gold, fall 2010. Also see “Straight Inta Compton” for more writings exploring one of South LA’s most fascinating and troubled cities.
Click on each publication name to learn how it serves the city of Compton.
AFRICAN AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS
ETHNIC PUBLICATIONS AND WEBSITES
CITIZEN REPORTING AND SOCIAL NETWORKING
Major daily newspaper serving Southern California
The LA Times is the fourth-biggest newspaper in the country in circulation numbers, and the largest paper serving Los Angeles and the West Coast. However, recent years have seen its budget and staffing reduce dramatically.
The Times has been conscientious in its coverage of newsworthy events in Compton. Yet, while the Times attends critical City Council and School Board Meetings, Compton coverage is not at an investigative level. Many recent articles on Compton include “human interest” stories such as the shooting death of a five year old boy on Halloween or the experience of beauty pageant contestant.
Ruben Vives, a Times reporter credited with co-authoring the groundbreaking stories on municipal corruption in Bell, was assigned to southeast LA at the time the Bell story was reported. His “beat” included multiple independent cities and dozens of Los Angeles neighborhoods. NPR noted in a story about Bell that Vives and his colleague Jeff Gottlieb need to treat their territories “like foreign correspondents: dipping in but not lingering” in their investigations of city governments.
At a recent Los Angeles Press Club meeting where Vives and Gottlieb gave a talk, an audience member asked whether The Times planned to ramp up its coverage of southeast LA cities, given the scandal in Bell. Vives said that the paper is revisiting all the cities surrounding Bell, but that “it’s hard to tell” what coverage will look like. Gottlieb said, “I don’t know if there’s a push for more local, local, local…The staff is smaller than it once was, and that creates problems.”
Another question addressed the future of local news coverage in the age of shrinking newspapers. “What hope is there for us in the long run when print media is being reduced, when there’s less of guys like you on staff?” Neither Vives nor Gottlieb expressed confidence. Vives acknowledged the problem, saying, “for the past 10 years that Southeast area has been nothing but corruption.” He added, “That’s the frustration – when you need newspapers to make sure cities are doing their jobs.”
Others at the Times recognize that the Times lacks ample resources to cover specific – but still important – topics. Media columnist James Rainey wrote, “The Times doesn’t have enough reporters to regularly cover the county’s 88 cities, not to mention myriad other agencies and beats (like transportation, education and healthcare) that loom large in the lives of our readers.”
Former Compton Bulletin editor Allison Eaton said that she has tried to reach out to the LA Times on many occasions to encourage coverage of various stories. She was once told that the Times can only cover Compton news “if something illegal happens.”
In 2009, a Times writer/trainee was assigned to cover Compton for several weeks, and introduced himself on social networking site Hub City Livin.’ Eaton wrote to him, “Why only a few weeks? The Times needs to start covering Compton on a regular basis. There’s SO much going on, both “positive” and “negative.” We need a major daily in there to get info out to the people!”
→ Killings are down in Compton, Sheriff’s Department says by Robert Faturechi and Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
→ Sheriff warns Compton officials that they can’t afford to create their own police department by Abby Sewell and Ann M. Simmons
→ Target in Compton helps store employees tackle their personal problems by Andrea Chang
→ Parents hope to force sweeping changes at Compton school by Howard Blume
→ Parents present signatures to take over a Compton school by Howard Blume
→ Three Compton residents sue city over voting rights by Abby Sewell
→ Remaining stolen show dogs found in Compton by Ann Simmons
→ A congregation buries a child and prays for change by Scott Gold
→ Casting a vote for chaos by Abby Sewell and Ann Simmons
→ Compton school district fires superintendent by Abby Sewell
“The board of the Compton Unified School District has voted to fire the district superintendent over her use of district credit cards for personal purchases. Kaye E. Burnside had been on administrative leave since late May. The board’s 4-2 vote Tuesday night to fire her came after a district-commissioned investigation into her credit card use. The investigation found that Burnside had made about $14,000 in personal charges on the district card and did not reimburse the district for several thousand dollars’ worth.”
“Despite being paid one of the highest salaries in Los Angeles County for a part-time mayor, Eric Perrodin of Compton is often missing in action. Between July 7, 2009, and July 13 of this year, Perrodin was absent from board and commission meetings nearly two-thirds of the time, attending only 59 of 162 scheduled sessions, records show. On some occasions when he did show up, he was more than an hour late or left the meeting in less than half an hour. But he still got paid.”
→ Compton council fires city manager by Abby Sewell
“The Compton City Council voted early Wednesday to fire its top administrator, the second time the panel has terminated its city manager in three years. The firing comes at a time when the mayor is under fire from some residents for missing council meetings.”
→ At Compton Centennial, chaos turns into cheers by Bill Plaschke
→ This Compton Centennial football team is hungry by Bill Plaschke
→ Compton Police Department to make a comeback? by Robert Fraturechi
→ Compton residents plan fourth recall attempt this year by Ann M. Simmons and Abby Sewell
“Discontented Compton residents announced Thursday that they have launched a recall campaign against their mayor and several other elected officials, citing allegations of misappropriation of public funds, nepotism and voter deception…. It is at least the fourth time this year that a recall has been attempted against these officials.”
→ Council pay in Vernon, Inglewood and Compton is high, but Bell is still No. 1 by Sam Allen and Abby Sewell
“City council members in Vernon, Compton and Inglewood receive significantly higher compensation than most of their counterparts in Los Angeles County, according to a Los Angeles Times review of salary figures….In Compton, the part-time City Council members can receive up to $36,000 a year for their council and commission duties; part-time Mayor Eric Perrodin can earn $43,200. In addition, each gets a $650-a-month auto allowance.”
→ Homicides plunge, hope rises in Compton by Scott Gold
History: Compton before The Compton Bulletin
For many years, beginning in 1924, the Compton Herald American was the city’s leading newspaper and represented Compton’s “lily-white” population and leadership that had dominated the city. According to “Chronicling America,” a reference published by the Library of Congress National Endowment for the Humanities, the Compton Herald American and the Compton Herald were in publication between 1924 and 1974.
The Herald was one of the country’s leading papers. The paper’s publisher, editor, reporter and writer was Colonel C.S.Smith, one time Compton mayor and a colorful and influential character in Comton’s history since the 1920s. Among his other contributions, Smith was responsible for developing Compton’s airport, Woodley Field.
At the time of Compton’s transition to a black-dominated city, the Metropolitan Gazette and the Compton Journal had joined the Herald in providing Compton’s news, although these were felt to be of limited importance.
The Compton Bulletin
The Compton Bulletin, under private investigator and bail bondsman Ray O. Watkins, was founded in 1989 intended to serve a city developing a new identity as one with an almost entirely black population and leadership.
According to a 1989 promotional brochure created by the Compton Bulletin in honor of the city’s centennial, the existing papers did not adequately serve the community. “Both papers seemed to shy away from the issues,” the brochure said, “treating controversies as if they didn’t exist and taking positive achievements for granted.”
According to the brochure, Compton residents began to ignore to the older newspapers, and within a few years those papers relocated or folded. Meanwhile, The Bulletin began to break stories uncovering corruption in city government and local businesses thanks to the experience Watkins had developed as a private investigator as well as his commitment to improving the city. His first scoop lead to the indictment of two councilmen charged with extortion, fraud, perjury and other related crimes. Another article proved that local groceries sold contaminated meat and operated in unsanitary conditions. The resulting uproar forced many to close or improve their standards. The Bulletin also brought about the resignation of a corrupt court commissioner who had been arbitrarily and unfairly settling cases for two decades. In 1987, the City Council named the Bulletin the official newspaper of Compton. Until 2004, the paper continued as family owned and operated.
That year, media attorney Lisa Grace-Kellogg bought The Bulletin under the umbrella of her newly formed American Print Media company, which owns several other community papers. Grace-Kellogg is married to a former Denver Bronco football player who now holds a position as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and has homes in California and Colorado where she raises Rocky Mountain horses.
In 2008, Grace-Kellogg bought Colorado’s Huerfano World newspaper. In an article about the transfer of ownership, Huerfano News quoted Grace-Kellogg describing her intention that the newspapers under her management will empower her readers to act. “While we’re committed to reporting in an unbiased manner,” she said, “it’s imperative that issues be covered so that citizens can be aware of what is happening and take whatever actions they deem appropriate. It’s important that the local newspaper be a voice—a very loud voice—for the community.”
The article also referred to the Compton’s Bulletin’s responsibility for the indictment of three local city officials, including a former mayor, who went to prison after it was revealed he used city money for personal use.
The Compton Bulletin’s recent history under Allison Jean Eaton
Allison Jean Eaton was appointed The Bulletin’s editor-in-chief in 2006. In that position, she wrote The Bulletin’s news stories and managed all editorial processes. Her leadership followed the investigative tradition of Watkins and commitment to keeping locals well-informed.
The following headlines offer a sample of the articles she recently wrote and published:
→ HUD: Shody accounting cost Compton $2.8 million. Federal audit of Compton Housing Authority’s Section 8 program exposes costly procedural deficiencies at City Hall. (October 6, 2010)
→ City clerk no longer providing copies of council meetings. While videos can be viewed in the clerk’s office, failure to provide copies for sale appears to violate Public Records Act. (October 6, 2010)
→ Whaley Middle School student collapses, dies. Boy had heart condition: questions surround why students were forced to run in extreme heat. (October 6, 2010)
→ School board ousts Burnside. Credit card use gets schools chief fired; she threatens suit, reportedly submits $3,600 check. “Five months after a Bulletin investigation revealed that the school district superintendent used her district-issued credit card to make personal purchases, the school board has voted to terminate her contract.” (October 20, 2010)
→ Mayor’s Sunday school teacher appointed assistant city manager. Community outraged at what’s being dubbed by activists as blatant cronyism. (October 27, 2010)
→ “Council meeting times to change. In aftermath of Times probe into Mayor’s spotty attendance, council votes to begin meeting at 5:45 pm. (September 29, 2010)
→ District sill far behind federal education standards. (September 29, 2010)
In November, Eaton discussed her vision for the Bulletin in an interview on Hub City Radio. Many of her comments emphasized her belief in the “watchdog” role of local media.
“I’ve been a hawk as far as watching what the elected officials have been doing, because there are a lot of questionable things that have happened,” she said. “I think it’s integral for a newspaper to first and foremost act as a watchdog.”
Eaton, who earned a journalism degree from Cal State Long Beach in 2005, believes that an independent press plays an essential role in a democracy. “The press can research and monitor government actions, bring questionable findings to the public awareness, and influence voters’ perceptions,” she said.”
Eaton believes the recent Bell scandal has implications for cities like Compton. She said, “if a community doesn’t report on local officials, uninformed citizens wake up one morning to find out their city manager is making over a million dollars a year.”
Still, Eaton is uncertain about whether the Compton Bulletin has helped improve civic life. Compton is lucky to have its own paper, especially one that is more than “fluff and filler” and goes out of its way to shed light on City Hall, she said. The newspapers of nearby cities similarly plagued by corruption aren’t necessarily going to “play that vigilant role at city hall or the school district.”
Despite Eaton’s efforts, she doesn’t think readers appreciate the “watchdog” role of the paper. “I personally sometimes feel like, “whoa, is anybody reading?” In the beginning of her tenure with the paper, she hoped her articles would push the community to respond. “I had a lot of idealism about how it worked,” Eaton said. “You report on a story, and then people get enraged and are out there protesting. But it’s not like that.”
Eaton has a few ideas about why residents don’t take a more active role. One she describes as “cognitive dissonance,” saying, “People can’t believe what’s going on, it’s too much for them to handle and they pretend it doesn’t exist.” Others only look at Compton’s much-touted improvements, she said, such as the new pocket parks and Target, and desperately want to believe the new city slogan – “Birthing a New Compton.” “While the city is doing better than it has in decades,” Eaton said in an email, “people do not even begin to comprehend the depth of omnipotent corruption by which the city operates.”
She also said that residents are “scared to death” to speak out against officials. Mayor Eric J. Perrodin is known for his history as an officer with the notorious Compton Police Department. (The Compton Police Department was the municipal law enforcement agency for Compton until it was disbanded by the City Council on September 16, 2000. Effective September 17, 2000, the Compton City Council contracted with the County of Los Angeles for law enforcement services provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.)
There have been other incidents of conflict between the mayor and the Compton Bulletin. According to Eaton, Perrodin has targeted those who oppose him through public humiliation, car vandalism, stalking, erroneous ticketing and threatening calls and emails. The Bulletin’s attempts to bring information to the city have been met with resistance.
In 2006, Perrodin allegedly threatened retaliation against The Bulletin after it published an account of possible overbilling by a consultant to the city. According to the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, Perrodin apparently called Grace-Kellogg “just a white girl who lives in Malibu” and threatened to “play the race card” and to cancel an advertising contract between the city and the newspaper. The District Attorney’s Office launched an internal personnel inquiry.
“I never imagined in my entire life that what I’ve gone through would ever happen,” Eaton said in the interview on The Hub Radio. “I knew that people would get mad, but…” her voice trailed off, as if in disbelief.
Eaton recognizes that she can’t personally take on the role of community-activist. “Newspapers can only go so far. I can report on what’s going on, but that’s where my role stops. It’s the community’s responsibility to take that information and start discussions and decide what they want to do from there.” She describes the newspaper’s role in the community as “laissez faire.” And for the same reason, she doesn’t call her investigative stories “victories.” “We’re not trying to win anything, we’re just trying to tell the truth,” Eaton said.
An uncertain future for Compton’s most prominent newspaper
In November, Eaton was abruptly “let go” from the paper by publisher Grace-Kellogg. (She isn’t permitted to discuss the circumstances surrounding her termination.) Eaton doesn’t know what the future will hold for her personally, or for the paper. Since her departure, the newspaper has been reorganized. Neither the masthead nor the website lists an editor or staff and there are many rumors circulating in Compton including one that the paper had been sold. Existing Features writer Cheryl Scott seems to be responsible for editorial content.
Members of the community forum website Hub City Livin’ have commented extensively on the changes.
Local Ron Dowell wrote, “Cheryl Scott, Staff Writer, seems to be the primary writer and the tone of the pieces she writes is more city hall and CUSD friendly, in contrast to just two weeks ago.” Another comment implied that the city’s only unbiased information system had been compromised. He wrote,
Dowell concluded, “I feel an ill-wind blowing through Compton at this moment in time…I hope the voters are listening and watching.”
But not everyone agreed. A member with the screen-name “danthony” wrote, “I was wondering why the Bulletin seemed more positive in the last couple of articles also. Keep up the good work Bulletin.” The comment seemed to anger local resident Robert Ray. He responded, “How can you say the Bulletin is more positive when it doesn’t report the real news?”
December 20, 2010, the site was updated to include a more sophisticated layout and the ability to read a PDF of the print edition. The paper has not released a statement about changes in management or editorial.
The Daily Pilot is a 70,000-circulation daily newspaper owned by the Times Community Newspapers that serves the South Bay cities of LA County. The only articles it publishes related to Compton are those that cover sports events with teams from Compton.
Small Weekly Compton newspaper
Hub City News, named for the “Hub City” of Compton, is a weekly paper supposedly circulated in Compton, Lynwood, Carson, Gardena, Watts, Inglewood, Long Beach, Wilmington and Los Angeles County. A PDF version of the paper is available online sporadically (although the newspaper doesn’t have a website). The publisher, Leroy W. Grayson, also works as a 7-Eleven store owner, and has contributed financial support and services to Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin’s campaign. In turn, Leroy has been paid by the mayor’s campaign for ads, literature and mailings. Some say Hub City News can’t be trusted as a credible newspaper; that it tends to reprint city pres s releases.
Website with news and features articles written by USC journalism students and South LA locals
Launched in 2009 by USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism and Communications, “Intersections: the South LA Reporting Project” is a website that publishes stories on a variety of topics within the South LA Community – news, politics, arts, community and opinion. The articles are written by USC students as well as community members, who are encouraged by Intersections to pick up available article topics or pitch their own.
When the project was announced, its founder Bill Celis, a USC professor and former New York Times writer, noted the importance of alterative media sites such as Intersections. He said, “Hyperlocal news sites like the South Los Angeles Reporting Project fill a void by supplying meaningful coverage that mainstream media have been unable or unwilling to provide. We’re hopeful that the site will, in time, become a widely used resource by the residents of South Los Angeles.”
Since 2009, the site has published 33 articles on Compton. Topics included City Hall meetings, the Blue Line Metro Rail, the Compton Initiative, Compton Soccer Club and a Compton artist, and articles were written by a mix of students and community contributors. Some articles were long and well-researched, such as a piece on an empty lot awaiting redevelopment, while others included simply video or photos.
When the site was created, project manager Emily Henry posted a letter on community forum website Hub City Livin’ explaining the goal of the project, and how the community could get involved. In a post titled “Knowledge is Power,” Emily wrote, “There are so many stories that need to be told, but get ignored by mainstream newspaper companies who are catering to a different audience entirely. I’ve seen firsthand what a lack of information can do… it can lead people astray and keep them in the dark about what’s happening around them. We started this news website because we would have the freedom and resources to cover Compton and surrounding areas the way that it SHOULD be covered.”
To get the community involved, Intersections has sponsored several workshops on community and citizen journalism. One was titled, “Empowerment through Community Journalism and Social Media,” and included an overview of the web’s most useful sites and tools for citizen journalists and information on how to use social media effectively. It offered an opportunity for locals to bring story ideas, and create actual articles or multi-media projects. One result of the workshop was a recorded discussion among Compton locals about South LA public schools.
Long Beach is the biggest city just south of the city of LA, and only 10 miles from Compton. As such, publications and news websites based there often serve the Compton community.
Greaterlongbeach.com frequently posts articles originally published in the Compton Bulletin.
LBReport.com engages in ‘hard’ journalism and investigative reporting of local stories, issues and officials. Its coverage of Compton focuses on crime and politics, particularly issues that affect Long Beach as well as Compton.
LongBeachOnLine.net, which began in 2001 as a community portal and aggregate site for all Long Beach news media, doesn’t seem to cover news from Compton.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram is a daily newspaper published in Long Beach that covers mostly local topics, as well as some national and international news from wire service such as the Associated Press.
As part of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, the Press-Telegram shares coverage, printing presses and staff with several other daily newspapers in greater LA. It features Compton regularly – in the Sports section. Other than that, coverage of Compton focuses on the unusual and noteworthy. Like many papers nationwide, the Press-Telegram has followed the recent Parent Trigger controversy. As well, it reprints Compton news from the Associated Press.
L.A. based local newspapers
The Wave publications, founded in 1912, serve a community extending north to the Hollywood Hills, south to Carson, east to Whittier, and west to Culver City. The L.A. Wave runs various community newspapers in LA County, including the West Edition, Lynwood Press, and The Press, which all cover South LA communities. Articles on Compton, of which there were about 68 in 2010, are typically published in the West Edition.
Recent copies of the West Edition consist almost entirely of articles that appeal to the black community. Indeed, a 2010 demographic survey of The Wave showed that 38% of readers were black – the majority. On the other hand, the same survey listed 37% of readers as Latino and 18.6% as white.
In the wake of the Bell scandal, NPR interviewed The L.A. Wave about its role in uncovering local corruption. The radio station quoted a Wave reporter, Arnold Adler, as saying that the paper doesn’t do deep digging into scandals. “Our policy pretty much is we report the news, we don’t make the news,” Adler said. According to NPR, Adler has covered Bell since 1980 – but he carries that beat on top of 14 others. He only has enough time to make calls after city meetings. As Adler put it, “We don’t have the people or staff to go digging around, hoping we stumble on a scandal.”
Hyper-local news website
A new development in the online news scene is AOL’s Patch Media, which operates websites offering local news and features in about 500 neighborhoods nation-wide. In Los Angeles, Patch has established about 20 sites in micro-areas including Beverly Hills, Culver City, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Highland Park-Mount Washington, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, South Pasadena, Venice and Westwood.
It’s unlikely that a Compton Patch will be developed anytime soon. According to president Warren Webster, Patch is selecting locations partly based on an algorithm that considers factors like the income, voting, school ranking, a “vibrant business community” and a “walkable Main Street.” Compton ranks low in all those categories.
As the first Patch websites develop and draw curious followers, journalists have been debating the pros and cons of the system.
Some have argued that Patch’s choice of locations reveals lack of commitment toward representing underserved communities. LA Weekly writer Dennis Romero isn’t convinced that the project will patch the holes, so to speak, in media coverage, especially in south LA areas not fully covered by the Times or the LA Weekly. He wrote on an LA Weekly blog that, “…the spin that Patch is doing some kind of community service is a little hard to swallow.” Romero was also critical of Patch’s plans to cover LA’s ethnic communities with “software-driven language translation” for non-English readers.
He also noted that Patch is entering areas that already have a plugged-in, strong, local press. Meanwhile, suggested blogger Gary Scott, Patch editors and reporters might lack the personal commitment characteristic of the established local press. Scott wrote on his blog, “hometown papers often thrive because they are owned by a local with a deep investment in journalistic standards and civic life. For Patch, some editors will get it and others won’t.”
Finally, Huffington Post blogger Michael Sigman raised another criticism relevant to all alternative news media – the failings of a news site that is motivated by speed. He noted that what used to be called the 24 hour news cycle has become “a 24/7 stream of barely filtered raw material, most of which folds in on itself like a monumental fractal.” Articles about Compton deserve careful, meticulous thought, and maybe even investigative work. With Patch, they just might not get that.
News website from staff of community contributors
Examiner.com claims to be the inside source for everything local. The reporters, who are called “examiners,” come “from all walks of life,” says the site, suggesting that their primary jobs aren’t necessarily in journalism.
Launched in April 2008 with 60 cities, Examiner.com now serves hundreds of markets across the U.S. and Canada. Unlike Patch, it covers cities rather than micro-areas. The Los Angeles Examiner site only sporadically covers Compton.
However, since April, Tony Hicks, the “LA Parenting and Education Examiner,” has paid special attention to the Compton Unified School District, writing a series of new and analysis articles on district issues. The site credits Hicks as an educational consultant specializing in Parent and Community Involvement who has worked in the public school system for more than 24 years.
Weekly alternative publication serving Los Angeles
LA Weekly is a free “alternative weekly” paper founded in 1978. According to its website, “LA Weekly has been the premier source for award-winning coverage of Los Angeles music, arts, film, theater, culture, concerts, [and] events.” Coverage of Compton has been sporadic tending to focus on controversial topics. Most recently, the Weekly has written a series about the proposed “parent trigger” takeover of a Compton school. In the early 2000s, Erin Aubry Kaplan, a local journalist who often covers the black community, wrote a series of articles about Compton related to colorful ex-mayor Omar Bradley and current mayor Eric Perrodin.
AFRICAN AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS
BlackPressUSA.com, the online home of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) News Service, bills itself “Your independent source of news for the African American community.” More than 200 black community newspapers from around the country comprise the NNPA, an association founded in 1940 with the goal of advocating for the black community through unity and action in the journalism and publishing worlds. But its membership doesn’t include a Compton-based paper, and so the News Service is devoid of local Compton news.
The website is hosted by the Black Press Institute, a partnership between the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation (NNPF) and Howard University.
Danny Bakewell Sr., chairman of the NNPF, has said that a strong black press is essential to the maintenance of the struggle for freedom, justice and equality in the United States. Bakewell also is the publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, and recently bought the L.A. Watts Times.
Weekly newspaper geared for the Southern California black community
The Los Angeles Sentinel is a weekly Los Angeles newspaper, founded and first published in 1933 by Col. Leon H. Washington for black readers. The paper boasts a readership of 150,000, according to its website. The Sentinel’s target audience is African American neighborhoods in South California, including Compton. Danny Bakewell Sr., the Sentinel’s owner, is a real estate developer and philanthropist.
Bakewell is also chairman of National Newspaper Publishers Association an organization that represents over 200 African American newspapers throughout the nation.
A recent edition of the paper featured a cover story on the crisis in Haiti, a front page news story about a local book club, and national news. Inside, two whole pages – with no advertising – were devoted to opinion and commentary. A half-page of local news came next, followed by national news, a health and fitness section, another half page of local news, and a photography section. (The paper also includes separate sections on Real Estate, Family and Sports.)
Bakewell is reported to have an established relationship with Compton’s city government. According to the Compton Bulletin, contribution records for Mayor Eric Perrodin show Bakewell as a donor. In addition to cash, Bakewell’s company also contributed another $4,000 in-kind of free office space that was used as the mayor’s campaign headquarters. In turn, Perrodin’s camp paid the L.A. Sentinel, which Bakewell publishes, $6,615 for an ad and another $6,615 for campaign literature. Some suspect that the Sentinel is not an entirely objective publication because of Bakewell’s business connections. In any event, the Sentinel aims to address larger rather than city-specific issues of the Southern California black community.
Watts-based African American newspaper
When it was founded in 1965, in the wake of the Watts Riots, the Watts Times aimed to represent the often-overlooked neighborhood of Watts and its African American community. In 1976, it changed its name to the L.A. Watts Times, reflecting its shift to represent the entire African American community of LA County. Recently, the L.A. Watts Times was acquired by Danny Bakewell, Sr. owner of the Los Angeles Sentinel. It lists its circulation at 50,000.
ETHNIC PUBLICATIONS AND WEBSITES
Hoy is a Spanish-language print publication created weekly by the Tribune Company (which also owns the LA Times) and is distributed for free. According to the Hoy website, its mission is to “inform, entertain and educate Hispanics with engaging, relevant content that help build successful lives, serve as an advocate and provide a link to Latino culture.” Popular news topics include the drug war in Mexico and the stories of recent Latino immigrants. While Hoy covers a variety of topics, it does not focus on city-specific news.
Daily Spanish-language newspaper and website that caters to the greater Los Angeles Latino population
Although two thirds of Compton residents are Latino, and 31% are foreign born (with Mexico and El Salvador ranking as the most common places of birth) there is no Spanish language publication based in Compton. But locals can still pick up La Opinión.
La Opinión is a Spanish-language daily newspaper published in Los Angeles and distributed throughout Southern California. It is the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States and second-most read newspaper in Los Angeles (after The Los Angeles Times). The paper was first published on September 16, 1926, to coincide with Mexico’s Independence Day, and was a new iteration of La Prensa, which had been founded in 1913.
In its early days La Opinión primarily reported news from Mexico as well as topics of interest to Mexicans in the U.S., such as the deportations and repatriations of Mexicans during the 1930s as well as the Zoot Suit Riots of the 1940s.
Since then, La Opinión has diversified its coverage from purely Mexican to include the Central American, South American, Cuban, and Puerto Rican populations present in Los Angeles. As former Publisher Ignacio E. Lozano, Jr. once said, “Our mission was no longer to be a Mexican newspaper published in Los Angeles, but an American newspaper that happens to be published in Spanish.”
La Opinión has consistently given attention to Compton on serious topics such as crime, homicide, drugs, poverty, education and city development. Articles published over the past couple of years include “’Nuevo Compton’ en gestación” (Birthing a new Compton), “Compton clama por sus jóvenes” (Compton clamors for its youth), “La otra cara de Compton” (The other face of Compton), “Compton: regalos por armas” (Compton: gifts for guns), “Resaltan esfuerzos por la convivencia en Compton” (Efforts for harmonious living stand out in Compton) and “Fresh and Easy llega a Compton” (Fresh and Easy arrives in Compton). Other articles, including several on drug trafficking and gang violence, have mentioned Compton and quoted residents. In the past year, 14 articles mentioned Compton. Only a few were exclusively on Compton issues, including the move to bring back the sheriff’s department, the Parent Trigger effort to establish a charter school, and violence and poverty in the city.
→ Sheriff recomienda seguir en Compton (Sheriff recommends that he stay on in Compton)
→ Compton vive entre violencia y más pobreza (Compton lives between violence and more poverty) by Isaias Alvarado (Spanish only)
LA based daily newspaper that focuses on law and the courts
Metropolitan News-Enterprise, founded in 1901, is a Los Angeles Daily Newspaper focusing largely on law and the courts government, politics, business and health. The paper is owned by Jo-Ann and Roger Grace, the parents of Lisa Grace-Kellogg, who has published the Compton Bulletin since 2004. Metropolitan News-Enterprise has published articles on legal matters in Compton.
This article reports that the District Attorney’s office had launched a personnel inquiry into charges that Deputy District Attorney Eric Perrodin, who is also the mayor of Compton, threatened retaliation against The Compton Bulletin after it published an account of possible overbilling by a consultant to the city. Allegedly, Perrodin had a staff member telephone Lisa Grace-Kellogg, the Bulletin’s publisher, to threaten a cancellation of a city contract with her newspaper for legal advertising, and called her “just a white girl who lives in Malibu.” According to the article, Grace-Kellogg, who is also general counsel for the METNEWS, said the paper used the Public Records Act to obtain documents that showed overbilling from a public relations consultant. The METNEWS article notes that federal rulings protect a government contractor from retaliation for the exercise of free speech and free press rights.
CITIZEN REPORTING AND SOCIAL NETWORKING
Founded recently, no earlier than fall 2010, the site ComptonCity.com bills itself as “The Other Voice.” According to the site description, ComptonCity.com plans to post information about events and issues in the city. Charles Davis is listed as the “chief editor and fact checker.” As the elected City Clerk of Compton from 1973 to 2003, Davis worked with seven mayors, 23 councilpersons, 16 city managers and more, the site says. ComptonCity.com is intended for residents, business owners and “all others who have an interest in our city.” The site is divided into several sections, including “OUR ISSUES.” Under that category, the page lists several “issues” and an explanation of each, as well as the site’s recommendation about action to take. Currently, the “issues” include:
Police Services: Los Angeles County Sheriff Department or Local Compton Police Department.
Change in Council Meeting Times
City Council Stopped Televising Public Comments at City Council Meetings
Fiscal Year 2009/2010 Budget and Expenditures
Richland Farms Water
A “Community Forum” page is also listed, but appears to still be under construction. As well, a “Contact Us” page encourages readers to send in tips, questions, or opinions.
Community forum and social networking website
Hub City Livin’ is an interactive social network website dubbed “the online hub of the Hub” that has attracted 825 members to date. (Compton is called the “Hub City,” most say, for its location at almost the exact center of L.A. County.) The site description says, “Our mission is to provide an open forum in which the issues and obstacles of Compton can be addressed through dialogue & discussion. Freely and without bias, we shall offer residents and officials alike, an equal opportunity to participate in creating the type of community that is desired by all those with a genuine interest and concern. It is our expectation that consensus and collaboration will be the benefit of the entire Hub City.” Site members can post blogs, questions and comments and interact with other members through Facebook-style profiles.
So far, Hub City Livin’ has provided a space where citizens can share news, ideas and opinions. HCL seems to offer a valuable service, especially in that it offers a neutral site for communication.
Member Jose Jimenez wrote on the site, “Thank You for creating this site that would better the quality of life of the residents of Compton; communication is a key to success.” Local Robert Ray wrote, “I think HCL is a very innovative website that has gotten several ‘Comptonites’ involved in what is or isn’t happening in Compton. I feel that I have benefited because I have learned a lot in the past year, and I hope that I have also contributed information for others.”
A comment from a user who calls herself “Super Mom” alluded to the potential of HCL to inspire community action. She wrote, “HCL is all about providing a place for the exchange of information relating to all things Compton. It’s a place where the uninformed can become informed. Since I’ve joined the site, I’ve learned a tremendous amount of information about the happenings in Compton….things I had no clue about. Although I don’t believe everything I read here, it’s a good starting point and serves as inspiration to do my own research and look further into matters concerning the city.” But she also said, “I wish there were more people here who dropped in the forum on a regular basis.” Super Mom voiced a major drawback to the site – low participation. About 10 people regularly post news or comment on the site. Site founder Maurice Harrington attributes some of the low participation numbers to the lack of internet access in Compton. He estimates that less than half of the Compton population has web access.
A post by Allison Jean Eaton, former editor of the Compton Bulletin, offers another description of the site’s current role. She wrote, “Compton residents need all the info they can get from as many sources as possible, and you’ve worked your way into a very key and integral role in a very short time.”
Right now, HCL offers another way of spreading information. But because it’s read by just a few people with limited interests and resources, the full potential of the site has not yet been tapped.
News blog by former editor of The Compton Bulletin
Hub City Nitty Gritty is an alternative site for Compton news created by former Compton Bulletin editor Allison Eaton. The site represents Eaton’s plan to “continue to do what I can on my own to make sure the community has access to what I believe as a journalist is vital information, and that it is free of propaganda/bureaucratic spin,” as she wrote on Hub City Livin.’ Eaton divides her site into several categories: City Hall Insider, Public Safety & Crime, Schools & Education, Free Speech Zone (for opinion articles) and This & That (for random information and humor). In its first month, the site received nearly 2500 hits and Eaton authored about 18 posts, including research-heavy reporting. For example, in an article about the lawsuit three residents had brought against the city regarding fair representation of Latinos in elections, Eaton wrote extensively about the backgrounds and interests of the legal groups involved in the action. The LA Times published a story the next week on the same topic – but didn’t incorporate the angle or information Eaton had included in her article.
In a 2004 article for the LA Times, Sam Quinones described WatchOurCity.com describes itself as “an old-style muckraking soul in new technology” that “regularly takes public officials to task.” The site was created about six years ago for the purpose of exposing activities of local officials, especially in Huntington Park. According to the editor, who won’t publicly identify himself other than to say he lives in Huntington Park, Watch Our City is entirely based on public records. It strives to be factually correct, thought it has been criticized for editorializing. The site has exposed numerous instances of corruption and questionable political moves. While many articles mention or refer to Compton, however, the city has not been a focus of the site’s coverage.
Online-only Compton-based radio station with a focus on arts and entertainment
In 2009, Compton natives Skyy Fisher and Andre Spicer created an online radio station devoted to their home city. They describe it as a “hyper-local talk radio spliced with choice musical picks.” Fisher has said that his goal is t0 keep the Compton public informed on a variety of topics. “We are here to educate people with health shows, poetry readings, the arts and anything else that needs exposure,” he said in an interview with The Compton Bulletin. Spicer said that the station intends to be a lasting community fixture. The Hub Radio is “in this for the long run,” he said. “If the public systems fail the community, it’s time for the private sector to step in.” The station’s flagship show, “Live From The Hub,” is described as an “urban show where you can expect the unexpected,” covering topics including music, news, gossip, politics, sex, comedy and more.
KJLH – the only independently black-owned radio station in south LA – is licensed to Compton (with studios in Inglewood). Since its 1979 debut under the ownership of Stevie Wonder, the station has offered up a variety of R&B, Hip-Hop and Classic Soul to the LA area. When the 1992 riots hit South LA, KJLH altered its programming, illustrating its commitment to the community by reporting on the civil disturbance.
The book KJLH-FM and the Los Angeles Riots of 1992: Compton’s Neighborhood Station in the Aftermath of the Rodney King Verdict by Phylis Johnson (available on Amazon.com) demonstrates how the event thrust the station into the media spotlight. The station was later awarded for its community commitment.