Alhambra Source is a local, online community news site serving the City of Alhambra in Southern California. The site is a collaborative effort of professional journalists and web developers, University of Southern California researchers and students, and Alhambra residents and organizations. This post also appears on Alhambra Source.
Former Alhambra Source Youth Feed participant Johnny Huynh inspects a flip camera.
Alexa: How did the Alhambra Source begin? How did the site’s Youth Feed begin?
Daniela: Alhambra Source came out of a joint communication research and journalism project at the University of Southern California. Michael Parks contributed to the journalism component by looking at all ways in which news could be done well. At the time, there was very little news coverage in Alhambra. On the research side, Sandra Ball-Rokeach contributed to designing a news site that leveraged the capacity that journalism has to increase civic engagement. As part of the project, we are measuring the effect news has on community.
Anthony: In terms of the Youth Feed, Daniela did outreach at the local high schools and she found a lot of youth journalists who were interested in writing about Alhambra. We started by working on a collective journalism project about the local parks. Then, each of us had our own local stories.
Daniela: Anthony came up with the name Youth Feed. From the beginning, Alhambra Source wanted to connect with the youth and see what their concerns were in the community. That’s why working with youth was so important.
Alexa: Why do you do journalism work with Alhambra Source?
Victoria: I joined because I was on the newspaper staff at my high school. That newspaper is mostly about our school and for our school, although we also distribute it to local businesses and the police. I thought that being part of the Alhambra Source — since it’s on line, is so up to date and always has new stories coming out — would be fun. Daniela came and talked to our newspaper staff at the high school and it felt like a cool way to get exposed to more media and journalism. It’s different from the high school paper because we do more with video, and more work outside of the high school. Our school paper does articles that connect back to the student body, while Alhambra Source is more focused on material that connects back to the whole community.
James: Working at Alhambra Source is an opportunity to learn about aspects of my city that I didn’t know about. We use videos, photography and writing, which is more dynamic.
Libby: I joined during summer. I had no idea what to expect because the program was just beginning, but overall I feel that I got true exposure to journalism. I got exposure to articles from a completely different angle — as the creator of a story rather than the one just reading it. Working with Alhambra Source has taught me a lot about the place I in which I live, and about journalism in general. One of the perks is going through the city and taking pictures. I learned how to cut a movie and write a story.
Anthony: I started last year as well, in the fall. I joined because I was interested in journalism and it was exciting to be part of a new project starting from scratch. I really thought it would be nice to become more engaged in the community, and to write something that more than just my student body was reading. I wanted to write for a bigger audience.
Alan: I originally joined last year, as a high school junior. That was also when I became full-time news editor for my school paper, though, so I didn’t have much time. I joined Alhambra Source again this year because news in Alhambra is really compartmentalized – people read three different papers: the LA Times, La Opinion, and Sing Tao. People often read a certain news source based on what language they speak, so different communities in Alhambra go to different news sources. It’s hard to get all the info in one place. The city doesn’t have that much community spirit, and I wanted to change that.
Yvonne: Being part of Alhambra Source broadened my perspective. It’s not just about living in my community, it’s about doing things, and being engaged. It’s not just about looking at what’s happening today. It’s also about reporting on things that people don’t know about, like in the piece about visiting Mrs. Lin, Alhambra’s psychic.
Alexa: What is your process, from start to finish, for making an article?
Libby: I will use the Main Street project as an example. First we (the student journalists) paired off and interviewed each other. We asked each other how we came to Alhambra, and how we’ve experienced Main Street over our whole lives or since we’ve lived here. Then, Daniela handed us some video cameras and sent us out in pairs to our three favorite places on Main Street. We interviewed our partners on why these were our favorite places, and we took pictures. A common theme among all the places we picked was that they had sentimental value. One of my favorite places is the market next to my school because I go there every day. It seems a little weird to have a market as your favorite place, but I have so many memories there.
The second part of the project was going to local businesses and asking how they’ve seen Main Street change over the years. That led to the story of how the festivals have gone away. So the story about Main Street morphed into a story about the summer jubilee — things that used to be in Alhambra but aren’t anymore because of the budget.
Daniela: We are still developing a model, but a key component to our work is to first flesh out an issue from a personal perspective. These aren’t solely personal stories; we take a young person’s perspective and figure out how it fits in to a larger context. When we were beginning the youth program we looked at a lot of different models, such as Radio Rookies. Sara Harris, who was the head of Youth Radio in Los Angeles, and now produced a radio show called Hear in the City, worked with us too.
The Alhambra Source Youth Feed presents a dynamic model for communities seeking youth perspectives on the future of their places. CoLab Radio will periodically feature stories from the Alhambra Source Youth Feed on this site. For this article, CoLab’s Alexa Mills spoke to Daniela Gerson, managing editor of the Alhambra Source, and reporters Yvonne Lee, Alan Tam, Victoria Gavia, Anthony Perez, Natalia Bogolasky, and Libby Gutierrez.