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LA Times Receipt of $1 Million Grant Draws Mixed Reactions

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Yesterday, the battered-but-still-standing Los Angeles Times announced that it's receiving a $1 million grant from the Ford Foundation.

The grant is good for two years, and with the money, the Times says that it plans to "expand its coverage of key beats, including immigration and ethnic communities in Southern California." Specifically, they'll be adding five new reporters dedicated to writing about state prisons, Brazil, immigrant communities like the local Vietnamese and Korean populations, and the border area.

The news is bringing in mixed reactions from fellow journalists, though. In a post entitled "Los Angeles Times Gets $1 Million Grant to Cover ... L.A.," Dennis Romero of LA Weekly writes:

Frankly, we find it bizarre that the publication would have to turn to nonprofit help to cover its own communities.
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It's certainly not the first time the paper has been accused of neglecting its own territory. In a 2006 interview we did with former Times reporter Daniel Hernandez, he told us:

The Times has a very clear, very rigid tradition on how to report the news. I saw how the people and places the paper chose to cover were automatically political decisions because for every thing you chose to cover there is something you chose to not cover. I started realizing that the mainstream style on reporting the news that most papers employ is not really concerned with depicting the truth, but concerned primarily with balancing lots of competing agendas and offending the least amount of interests as possible.

I saw how so much was looked at from certain assumptions and subtexts, and a very narrow cultural view. When I raised questions about such things, I was told we were writing for a "mainstream reader," which I quickly figured out is basically a euphemism for a middle-aged, middle-class white registered Democrat homeowner in the Valley.

Meanwhile, in what could be read as a (very mildly) positive spin, Andrew Beaujon of Poynter. writes:
The Times will use the money to hire — hire! — journalists to: “focus on the Vietnamese, Korean and other immigrant communities, the California prison system, the border region and Brazil,” Rainey writes.

So, interesting. Should be even more interesting to see how this all plays out.

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