For the most part, this weekend has been quiet. The best thing I had to talk about a few days ago was doing homework, and one of the most exciting things I did recently was put my binders together for the semester.
But tonight my Mom pointed out a meeting dedicated to learning all about the homeless situation in the South Bay. Much more interesting writing fodder in a traditionally journalistic manner.
My interest was piqued two-fold. I spent a good amount of time covering homelessness about a year-and-a-half ago for Bonnie’s Investigative Reporting class.
There were seven speakers on the panel who each gave spiels and answered a few audience at the end.
First came Jennifer Lamarque and Ivan Sulak from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. Hahn was apparently slated to come earlier on but had to drop out, sending representatives instead.
Most of the discussion coming from Sulak, who is the supervisor for housing and homelessness in the 4th District. He was also apparently homeless himself.
He talked all about different initiatives being worked on across the District. The growth of a year-round shelter, more Emergency Response Team development and pushing more housing projects. A veteran-focused project in Downey, student-focused housing in Whittier and more.
“The end of homelessness is to get people in houses,” he said before delving more into the fact that homeless people on the streets are just a snapshot, as the issue has “many different faces.”
That snapshot came more into focus with the next speaker: Ashley Oh with the LA County Homeless Initiative: Measure H.
Because homeless counts for 2019 only occurred within the last week or so, the numbers we got tonight are technically outdated.
More to come from people like my friend Spencer over in Orange County.
At least 3,400 homeless people are sleeping on the streets of Orange County, according to unofficial numbers from the biennial Point in Time count, which finished late Thursday night after spanning two days. The number is likely to change.https://t.co/0R4QcaGi4I via @voiceofoc
That said, Oh pointed out that in 2018 there were more than 52,000 homeless individuals counted in LA County, with ~40,000 not sheltered. She said that was the first year in eight with an overall decrease.
One of the most interesting things about this event for me was seeing the break-down at a local level with some places I actually know a thing or two about.
I picked up a document from the South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness outlining findings from the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count which said Redondo Beach had 154 homeless, half in vehicles and half on the street.
Though it’s great that the number was down about 41 percent from 2017, there’s clearly still a long way to go. Over 150 people is nothing to scoff at.
From there the discussion went more into Measure H, a pretty big initiative here in the South Bay.
Oh mentioned that 51 strategies to combat homelessness have been developed which fit into six categories, including prevention, more affordable housing and increasing income.
That last point in particular led to discussions of working, as she pointed out that “most people think these homeless are comfortable living off government money, but that’s not true. Many want to work.”
Those three speakers had the most general information to hand out, so I figured I’d give the rest more of a quick-fire treatment.
Shari Weaver from Harbor Interfaith Services talked about her group’s more intimate outreach work, claiming that their 40 or so staff members know about 80 percent of the unsheltered homeless in the beach cities.
She also brought the feel-good stories, such as that of a client who they housed that had lost his home in the recent Paradise fires.
Weaver was followed up by representatives of the Cities of Manhattan and Hermosa Beach who talked about city governments creating homeless plans, including a $150,000 multi-jurisdiction proposal between them and Redondo Beach that got funded by Measure H on January 24.
Finally, a lieutenant with the Manhattan Beach Police Department talked about officers across the beach cities working on more “holistic approachs” of homeless outreach on top of their usual enforcement.
All that remained was the Q&A, which was relatively short. It was hilariously obvious that most of the questions came from older members of the audience who simply do not like the homeless population being around.
Watching the panelists have to explain that private churches would be allowed to help the homeless whether or not there was a “centralized gathering location” to feed the needy was pretty great.
In the end I didn’t have too much of a chance to talk to people after the event, but if nothing else I gathered a lot of names, contacts and general information for the future.
Plus I got a two-hour addition to my internship log while rubbing shoulders with folks like Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand.
So who knows, even if I get no Gladeo interviews out of this, it could be handy if I ever break into covering homelessness again.
Either way, I’d say this was an educational night well spent.
After a couple of days of hardcore convention-ing, it feels nice to settle in for a week of school with your name adorning the paper once again.
As I teased in my ACP post from yesterday, I’ve had an opinion piece worked up over the last week or so that made it to print in today’s weeklong. Only one paper this week — alongside our special Health Issue — because half our staff is going out to New York.
Honestly that’s a double whammy bonus for me. More time for my story to be out on the stands and more time for me to get some homework out-of-the-way that I’ve been desperate to catch up on. Guess I can count that as one more benefit to not making the cross-country trip.
Enough pussy-footing around though. You’re probably all here to see some of my behind-the-scenes looks at what goes into writing an article. Though if you aren’t and you really do prefer me to just ramble on… Just let me know. I’d love to hear why.
Though my second opinion piece for the Titan isn’t exactly as noteworthy as the first one I wrote last semester, I think I honestly had a little more fun putting this one together. It centers around California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, my hometown representative actually and a pretty nice guy at that, having put through a bill to the table that would make surfing the official state sport if passed.
Now, I’m not personally super into surfing. I love the beach and I used to surf a bit, but I got pretty traumatized after an incident where I got crushed between a couple of boards during a surfing lesson way back in the day and haven’t really done it since.
Even with that stipulation, I’m not looking to suggest that surfing would be an inherently bad choice for this position. If anything I agree that surfing would make the most sense as a singular sport associated with the state of California. However… I just don’t think it’s right to necessarily boil down an entire facet of a state’s culture into one legislative representative.
There’s a distinction I’m imagining between something like a sport and something like a tree or a flower. Obviously every state has its signature flower or tree, and in a lot of regards that makes sense. Either that flora is common in the area or has some significance for another reason, but it’s easy enough to just say “California has redwood trees. They’re cool. Let’s make that the state tree.”
For human-driven cultural pursuits, I think it’s a little more tricky to pick just one. While surfing is strongly associated with the Golden State, it’s not the only one that holds distinction amongst the people living there. That can go for any state or country really, but it’s especially true for California where (as I note in the story) Big Bear snowboarding and Hermosa Beach surfing are just three or so hours apart.
Essentially my article goes through a number of examples building on the original premise that surfing along doesn’t represent all of California. I talk about beach volleyball. I talk about snowboarding. I talk about basketball. I make a Beach Boys joke.
Because really how could you not with this premise?
Then, once I’ve made a case for why all of those sports could also represent facets of California, I came to the ultimate conclusion that maybe there should not be just ONE single state sport. You discount too much history and culture if you go that route.
After my article was finished, I also decided to get some pictures to accompany it. I live down by the beach after all, so that was an easy thing to get access to. Plus, I get extra points for having photo credits in print. So why not?
Well… If you’ve paid attention to my adventures these past couple of days, you’ll know why not.
Really though, outside of the rain this was a pretty fun and easy assignment. I enjoyed the topic and I talked with a source for some background on potential flaws with surfing as a concept who was quite nice.
She even gave me an arts and crafts project… For some reason.
Still not sure why, but it’s sweet all the same.
If you want to read my article in its entirety, you can check it out here. Or you can see my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
Or, you can always come down to Fullerton to pick it up in person. It’s going to be on racks all week, after all!
The last day of the Associated Collegiate Press 2018 Midwinter Convention was a long one. Not only did I do a bunch of stuff before heading to Long Beach, but I was there extra late for the California College Media Association awards that followed the closing keynote of the event.
That late awards ceremony was also the reason I didn’t manage to get this out the night of like with my first two posts, by the way. If you even noticed that weird discrepancy and were curious about it.
But if you did not notice that and don’t want to see my keep rambling on, I’ll just jump right in.
Even though there were a few early sessions I was potentially interested in attending during the last day of the convention, ultimately I decided not to go over there yesterday morning. Other pressing matters presented themselves that needed to be addressed from Redondo.
First and foremost, I needed to take some photos regarding a story I’ve been working on for the Titan. The article is an opinion piece about surfing being considered to become the official state sport of California through a bill introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi.
It’s getting published tomorrow, so if you want to know exactly what I’m thinking about regarding that issue, you’ll just have to wait and see. #Cliffhanger
In my desire to earn extra points for Comm 471, I decided to go take my own photos to accompany the surfing article. After all, I live literally five minutes away from the beach. So why not take my own photos?
Turns out, nature gave me a perfect reason why to not take my own photos.
Seriously, what were the odds that I went out to take photos on one of the rainiest, lousy days I’ve seen in this part of the world in months.
At least there was a nice pier to hide under so I didn’t completely ruin the camera I have rented from Bonnie.
Also, shout out to my Mom for taking this dope picture of me. Even if I look silly wearing a leather jacket out on the beach in hindsight.
On the bright side, we went and had a lovely breakfast together after escaping the torrential downpour.
We both look pretty lousy and waterlogged in this photo, but I think that adds to the charm. It was a fun adventure.
After our beach trip, I stayed home for a while longer to work on some homework. That’s the unfortunate thing about going to a dope conference: Having to keep up with your regular life responsibilities at the same time.
Especially when those real life responsibilities include a Psychology Research Methods paper to write in perfect American Psychological Association document style. That’s the funnest kind of assignment.
I did make some substantial progress on that during my morning time — though I didn’t finish it, and I theoretically could probably be working on it instead of this… But those are semantics we don’t need to get into right now.
Eventually, time dictated my necessity to go to Long Beach. I may not have gone to any other sessions, but there was one I absolutely had to go to.
Covering Milo Yiannopoulos
I think it’s probably no surprise at this point that our biggest story on the Daily Titan in 2017 (for the second half of it at least) was the Halloween visit of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
There’s no need for me to go into detail about every single story we wrote on the subject, so just check out the Daily Titan tag to get the gist of it if you’re behind.
For our purposes here, know that I was essentially the project lead on our Milo coverage since I broke the news that he would be appearing initially. That’s the magic of having connections with the club that was inviting him.
Because of the extensive work behind our Milo coverage, Bonnie got us a slot on the ACP convention schedule to talk about everything that went into it. Not only was that an awesome opportunity, but I had the honor of essentially leading the talk because I led most of our efforts!
That included everything, from the creation of a PowerPoint:
Of course I wasn’t the only one talking, if the pictures above didn’t make it obvious enough. I was joined by current Sports assistant Kathryne Padilla (left), Opinion editor Sophia Acevedo (middle) and News assistant Breanna Belken (right).
Our talk was pretty popular too, I’d say:
… I know it sort of looks like a half-empty room in this picture, but I took it toward the end of the session. There were more people there early on and a few trickled out throughout.
But there’s no need to try and overcompensate or whatever, as just the fact that we got to speak to anybody like an expert in the subject was an absolute joy!
Probably my favorite part of it was the fact that people stuck around after the talk ended to ask extra questions. Specifically from me! Seriously, they staked out the room and hit my up after I left to find out a bit more about how I was able to stay objective with my reporting on the guy.
It’s a pretty significant confidence booster to see people want your advice on how to handle something.
I may be wrong about this, but I believe it was UC Santa Barbara students that stayed around to talk with me after the talk. So shout out to them.
But if I’m wrong and you just so happen to be those guys and you’re reading this, just let me know and I’ll correct it. I feel bad about not being 100 percent sure, there was just a lot that happened after we talked.
The Ending Keynote: Dirty John
The Los Angeles Times took a chance in late 2017 by publishing one of their larger investigative stories in tandem with a series of podcast episodes. That podcast, called Dirty John, has been downloaded 10 million times since it was put out in October.
Christopher Goffard was the reporter and narrator for the print story and the podcast respectively. He was also the keynote speaker for the last day of the convention.
I was already pretty hyped up for his talk after Steve Padilla, an LA Times editor, advocated for the keynote and encouraged me to go see what he had to say. Luckily, I was not disappointed.
Goffard ran through the ten lessons he learned from working on a podcast:
The story always comes first.
You will eventually grapple with some kind of ethical issues.In his case, deciding whether or not to include certain sound clips to enhance the emotional connection of the story.
In a hyper competitive podcasting space, experience with prior reporting will offer an advantage.
Having the right equipment is important.
You will never know what words you have been mispronouncing your entire life until you have to say it in a professional space.
Even if your podcast can reach more people, use it to draw attention to print.
Always think about the cat (or whatever other noise obstructions there might be).
Your work shouldn’t be about you, as interesting as you may be.
Stop saying ‘uh huh’ during your interviews on tape. Learn to nod your head.
You will not be murdered if you fail. Only staying in your comfort zone will kill you.
After getting through his points in speed running fashion, he spent a long time just answering questions from anyone and everyone in the audience who wanted his advice. It was super cool and useful, and after it ended I was excited to start listening to the podcast on my daily drives to-and-from Fullerton.
Pardon my dumb late-night repetition of ‘excited’ too many times.
The rest of my time at the conference was spent at two different awards functions.
The first bled right into Goffard’s talk. A part of the ACP convention is a ‘Best of Show’ competition, where schools in attendance had the opportunity to enter what they considered to be their greatest work in various categories.
The Daily Titan entered one of the Homeless in OC-centric papers for ‘Best Daily Newspaper,’ the special Milo Yiannopoulos coverage reprint for ‘Best Special Issue’ and the Milo multimedia accompaniment for ‘Best Multimedia.’
We won first place, third place and fourth place respectively.
The banquet was pretty great for a number of reasons.
First and foremost: The food.
It was all as delicious as it looks.
Dinner was almost comically on-point by offering us the opportunity to have both the meat AND the fish course, alongside some salad, mashed potatoes and cauliflower.
Then there were a number of desserts served throughout the night, and I was able to get my hands on a tiny tiramisu and a small thing of custard with gold-colored chocolate shavings and a coffee-ground base.
Though the food was delicious, putting it as my ‘first and foremost’ choice is honestly a bit of a joke.
Really, the coolest thing about the banquet was getting to see a bunch of old friends from the Titan who swung around to get awards!
Namely, my ex-co-editors Sarah Wolstoncroft (Twitter not included) and Megan Maxey, Ashlyn Ramirez and Kaleb Stewart came back into the fold to pick up various accolades. Bryant Freese was also supposed to be there to pick up his first place award for the sports story that got a coach at CSUF fired, but unfortunately he blew a tire on the way over (poor guy…)
Our ads department also won a couple of awards alongside the writers who were in attendance, with the most striking award featuring an amazing typo.
I don’t think anyone got a picture of it, but essentially they gave the Daily Titan Ads Department staff an award for their advertising package, which was a “The Daily Californian” production from 2016.
So we technically got credit for something that UC Berkeley did I guess? I don’t know, either way it was pretty hilarious.
What’s most important for my purposes, however, is the award I received.
Megan, Ashlyn, Sarah, Bryant (who as I mentioned was not there) and I won third place in the News Series category for our work on the “Homeless in OC” stories that were produced as a part of Bonnie’s Investigative Journalism class last year. It’s a super huge honor, and I’m so proud that we were able to get that important work recognized!
Gotta give credit where it’s due, to all my hardworking peeps on the Daily Titan staff, past and present.
After the awards ended, we all stood around and took photos together, then made our way home.
After three days of fun and learning in Long Beach, the convention was over. By 11:00 p.m. when I got back to Redondo, I was ready to pass out.
And I did.
That’s why this is coming out so late into Sunday instead of Saturday night. Because I fell asleep, then had to get up early to take beach photos again (this time more successfully) and have been doing my Daily Titan shift for our weeklong issue before half of our staff goes to New York for yet another conference.
Still kinda wish I had the opportunity to go to New York with them, but after my experiences in Long Beach I suppose I really can’t complain. I had an amazing time with some of my friends, got to share my expertise with a national audience, learn from a number of professionals and won some awards.