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Happy Birthday To Us. Here's What We've Learned Now That We're One Year Older And Wiser

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It's our birthday, and we'll celebrate if we want to. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Today is our birthday. And boy, do we have a lot to celebrate.

1) We're still alive and kicking.

2) We've learned A LOT in the past year.

3) We've got some exciting news to share with you.

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One year ago today, we relaunched LAist.

But before I say more, let's take a quick trip in the wayback machine.

LAist had been abruptly shuttered the previous November. The move by billionaire owner Joe Ricketts came a week after the newsrooms of LAist, Gothamist, DCist and the family of "ists" had voted to unionize. The work of hundreds of writers, dating back to the 2004 start of the site, was initially erased from the web.

The site's shutdown came at a time when local news in L.A. seemed increasingly under peril. We knew what was lost when they pulled the plug on LAist. We lost a smart guide to living here. We lost a friend who knew where to go, what to eat, who to know. We lost an important connection to each other and to this place.

Our bosses jumped at the chance to bring it back.

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THE REVIVAL AND WHAT WE'VE LEARNED

Bringing LAist back meant some hard work and some hard questions.

What would it look like under new ownership? What kinds of stories would we publish? Would we be able to stay the reliable friend you've come to rely on to tell you what's happening in our city? Would LAist's readers understand and embrace our nonprofit business model? Would our newsroom embrace the chance to talk to a new audience, eager for news to be delivered in fresh, irreverent ways?

From day one, we tried to set the tone of what we hoped the new LAist would be, from hard-hitting original investigative journalism to exclusive breaking news to CBD cocktails, museums you might not have heard of and yes, we did it, cute mountain kittens.

And over the following months, we learned a lot.

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You had a big appetite for food stories that brought you back to cherished memories or helped you find (almost) every late-night spot to appease your hunger.

You wanted to know more about the issues on the ballot and the factors that led up to the LAUSD teacher's strike.

You care about the high-rate of infant mortality for black babies in L.A. County and sexual harassment among L.A. County's massive workforce.

We also learned that when we listened to you, we got to stories faster than other media outlets and answered questions you couldn't just easily Google.

We learned you were willing to support us with your hard-earned cash, in our first-ever LAist member drive.

WHAT'S NEXT

That gets us to where we're going next and why.

We've spent the last year getting older and wiser. And today, we wanted to share what we've got to show for it.

A promise. To you. Our readers.

Here at LAist, we promise to:

  • Always seek the truth -- no matter how difficult it may be. And we'll help you understand it.
  • Be transparent. We'll tell you how we do our jobs, where we got the information and why you can trust it.
  • Stay independent. We don't answer to big politicians or corporations. We answer to you.
  • Encourage your curiosity. We welcome your questions and will take our time to answer them.
  • Commit to diversity in our stories and our staff. We will always do our best to be both for and about communities.
  • Be part of the communities we cover. We will connect you with your neighbors, so we can all understand each other better. And maybe even laugh together. We know we don't have to always be serious to be serious journalists.

OUR MISSIONS

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Reporters missions on display in our newsroom. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

So how do we make good on that promise?

Our reporters and editors have been hard at work thinking about what they cover and why. They've thought a lot about how to serve you better and bring you stories you won't find anywhere else.

And, just as we promised, we want to share those missions with you. It's one of the key first steps we are taking to make sure our values are reflected in our stories.

You'll be seeing these missions again as you read more on LAist -- they will be at the bottom of our articles -- along with really easy ways to ask questions or give us story tips [we do love birthday gifts]. And for those of you who listen to us on the radio at 89.3 FM KPCC, you'll also be hearing about them.

We are excited about what we will build together.

And with that, here's our newsroom mission:

You deserve great local news - and we need your help to find those stories. We listen to what you're curious about, what keeps you up at night, and who you want held accountable. We're inviting you to be part of the conversation.

And here are the missions of our reporters:

INVESTIGATIVE TEAM

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From left: Aaron Mendlson, Mike Kessler, Rina Palta, Annie Gilbertson and Dana Amihere (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Annie Gilbertson, Aaron Mendelson and Rina Palta, investigations

How does who you are and where you live affect what kind of justice you get in Southern California?

Twitter: @AnnieGilbertson | @A_Mendelson | @kpccrina911

Email: agilbertson@scpr.org | amendelson@scpr.org | rpalta@scpr.org

ASIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

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(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Josie Huang, covering Asian American communities

More Asian Americans live in L.A. County than any other county in the U.S. The communities are varied and complex and often invisible in the mainstream media. I tell the stories of recent immigrants and families who have been here for generations to answer the question: How do you navigate the intersection of being Asian and American and what impact does that have on L.A.'s future?

Twitter: @josie_huang | Email: jhuang@scpr.org

JOBS & THE ECONOMY

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

David Wagner, covering jobs and the economy

The Southern California economy is strong, so why are so many people living paycheck to paycheck? I tell the stories of these Angelenos, their struggles and the many creative ways they make a living. I share information on strategies that can put people on the path to greater prosperity.

Twitter: @radiowagner | Email: dwagner@scpr.org

EDUCATION

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Adolfo Guzman Lopez, covering higher education

I focus stories on college students who are at a crossroads, particularly those on the first rung into higher education. Many of those students are trying to overcome academic and other challenges because they believe college will be the path to a better life. How do the people around them - in their personal lives and at the institutions they attend - help or hinder their success?

Twitter: @AGuzmanLopez | Email: aguzman@scpr.org
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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Kyle Stokes, covering K-12 schools

Is your local school any good? What does 'good' even mean? I help parents understand what defines quality education and which tools let them assess -- and sometimes even choose -- their own schools. I examine the forces that drive which students get advantages and which students get left behind, in school and beyond.

Twitter: @kystokes | Email: kstokes@scpr.org
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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Carla Javier, covering arts education

Exposure to the arts can open doors to a creative life, but not everyone has the same opportunities to be creative - even though California state law requires access to arts education. I explore what's being done to address the disparity and who does, and does not, get to learn about and make art.

Twitter: @carlamjavier | Email: cjavier@scpr.org
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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Priska Neely, covering early childhood development and education

I connect educators and caregivers of children ages 0-5 in L.A. County who live and breathe our early childhood system every day with academics, researchers, and policy makers to reveal gaps between the two and shine a light on what's working and what's not.

Twitter: @priskaneely | Email: pneely@scpr.org

ENVIRONMENT

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(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Emily Guerin, covering the environment

I'm interested in the tension between California's status as an environmental leader and the reality of our enormous fossil fuel consumption and production. I'm also examining the tension between our need for more housing and the reality of our hotter, drier, more fire-prone future.

Twitter: @guerinemily | Email: eguerin@scpr.org

DAILY NEWS

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Emily Elena Dugdale, covering daily news developments

I bring you onto the scene of the stories Angelenos are talking about today and help you understand how they'll affect you. I'm always on the lookout for news and unique stories about Los Angeles - let me know if you have one.

Twitter: @eedugdale | Email: edudgdale@scpr.org
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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Ryan Fonseca, covering L.A. solutions

I explore how Angelenos are trying to solve our city's greatest problems and what that means for you.

Twitter: @ryfons | Email: rfonseca@scpr.org

HEALTH

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Michelle Faust Raghavan, covering health care

We're living longer than ever before. What are we doing to get ready as California rapidly ages? I connect aging adults and caregivers with information, experts, and policy makers to help them understand risks and bridge the gaps in care.

Twitter: @MicheReports | Email: mfaust@scpr.org
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(Photo by Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Alyssa Jeong Perry, covering community health

It is still very hard for many people to talk about mental health. I explore how Southern Californians are trying to overcome the stigma, how that differs depending on your community, and what it will take to make help more accessible.

Twitter @alyssajperry | Email: aperry@scpr.org

HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Matt Tinoco, covering housing and homelessness

It's not just you. Southern California's sky-high housing costs are changing how we live and who can afford to keep a roof over their head. I will help you understand the factors that got us here, what's being done to help those struggling, and new pressures around the corner.

Twitter @onthatbombshell | Email: mtinoco@scpr.org

EMERGING COMMUNITIES

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Leslie Berestein Rojas, covering immigration and emerging communities

Southern California is home to many new immigrants - about a third of L.A. County residents are foreign born. Immigrants are creating an evolving definition of 'American.' I will deepen the understanding of how immigrants are changing the region and how L.A. changes immigrants.

Twitter: @Multi_American | Email: lberesteinrojas@scpr.org

ENTERTAINMENT

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Mike Roe, covering entertainment

Los Angeles is the home of arts and entertainment. My job is to help you figure out what is worth your time, and introduce you to other talented Angelenos who make it happen. This is a space for the creative work you care about - or don't know about yet.

Twitter: @MikeRoe | Email: mroe@scpr.org

FOOD & DINING

Elina Shatkin, covering food

Los Angeles is the most diverse and interesting food city in the United States. It's a place where street tacos are as revered as any 12-course omakase dinner - and rightly so. My job is to connect hungry Angelenos - through food - to the culture, history, people, and neighborhoods that make up our city.

Twitter: @elinashatkin | Email: eshatkin@scpr.org

INFRASTRUCTURE

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Sharon McNary, covering infrastructure:

Infrastructure is what we build together to make life better (and the things that break). My role is to reveal the often-surprising and important systems that make life possible in and around L.A.

Twitter: @KPCCSharon | Email: smcnary@scpr.org

ORANGE COUNTY

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Jill Replogle, covering Orange County

Orange County is changing -- too fast for some; not nearly fast enough for others. As the county shifts demographically and politically, my goal is to illuminate accompanying challenges, such as homelessness, and help people understand what's at stake.

Twitter: @JillRep | Email: jreplogle@scpr.org

POLITICS

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Mary Plummer, covering politics:

Democracy can be messy. In Southern California, the political system is changing in front of us, from how we vote to who is running for office. Many voices are shouting to be heard. I examine who gets listened to, and why, and provide a guide to anyone who wants to more fully participate in civic life.

Twitter: @maryplummer | Email: mplummer@scpr.org

PUBLIC SAFETY

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Frank Stoltze, covering public safety

Southern California has a long and troubled history when it comes to policing. I explore a continuing disconnect between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, look at when reforms have worked and where and why tensions remain. I'm always examining whether justice is being served.

Twitter: @StoltzeFrankly | Email: fstoltze@scpr.org

RELIGION & DIASPORA

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Aaron Schrank, covering religion and diaspora

I help Angelenos understand the role religion plays in their daily lives and the lives of their neighbors, in a region that has long been a safe haven for oppressed religious and ethnic communities worldwide.

Twitter: @aaronschrank | Email: aschrank@scpr.org

SCIENCE

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Jacob Margolis, covering science

From the consequences of climate change to the next Big One, the threat of another natural disaster is never far away. I help Southern Californians understand the science shaping our imperfect paradise and get them prepared for what's next.

Twitter: @JacobMargolis | Email: jmargolis@scpr.org

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Libby Denkmann, covering veterans and military affairs

More military veterans live in Southern California than anywhere else in the nation. I tell their stories - from those who excel after discharge to those who falter. How is America supporting its commitment to veterans and their families? How are we falling short?

Twitter @libdenk | Email: ldenkmann@scpr.org

YOUR QUESTIONS

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(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Jessica Ogilvie, answering your questions

I'm digging deep into L.A.'s hidden corners to uncover answers to your questions about our city.

Twitter: @jessicapauline | Email: jogilvie@scpr.org