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LAist Interview: Daniel Hernandez

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Meet Daniel Hernandez, one of this LAist Interviewer's most elusive targets.

He's only 25, but he's already an important voice in the Los Angeles media. Always on the go, we've been chasing him for an interview for the past year. We're glad our persistence paid off because Daniel has a keen sense about what's really interesting about this city.

We first noticed Daniel's writing when he wrote a piece about the endangered graffiti art at the Belmont Tunnel for the Los Angeles Times. His stories about the destruction of LA's art murals influenced subsequent press about the issue. Indeed, his work predated the June fracas involving the city's destruction of Kent Twitchell's six-story mural, "Ed Ruscha Monument."

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If you see a newspaper article about something cool in Los Angeles or hear someone screaming about how the media has portrayed a volatile issue, it's highly likely that Daniel wrote it.

Now he is a staff writer at LA Weekly, where he has covered the immigrant rights movement and the 2006 presidential election in Mexico. In fact, the paper published his first cover story, "Down and Delirious in Mexico City," in its August 11, 2006 issue.

Prior to joining the LA Weekly, he was on the staff of the Metro section at the Los Angeles Times, where he wrote cultural stories for the front-page such as his profile of OC Weekly columnist, Gustavo Arrellano.

Others are beginning to celebrate Daniel's accomplishments, as well. Daniel is the 2006 recipient of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' "Emerging Journalist of the Year" award and was a 2006 fellow of the Getty/USC Annenberg Arts Journalism Program.

Below are his responses to a few questions posed outside of our regular Q&A format. For this interview, Daniel put links into some responses, as he wanted to "respond creatively to the format."

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Why did you become a journalist?

Let's take it way back. I wanted to be an architect, but I couldn't deal with trigonometry. When my older brother Surge was in the ninth grade and I was in the seventh, my parents made him take Journalism. He wasn't into it; I read his textbook on my own and became enamored with the concepts, the ideas, the traditions, the practices. I've been doing journalism in one way or another since I was 14. It lets you constantly nurture your curiosity, your sense of justice, your sense of humor. I love the element of surprise that is the primary appeal behind a good news story. You're always learning. You also can't deny the appeal of deadline pressure, the adrenaline.

Why do you live in Los Angeles?
Initially, a job brought me. My first year in L.A. was miserable. I was living in a plain apartment on Rowena in Silver Lake with almost no furniture and just a few contacts. I started exploring, and things changed. L.A. messes with your depth perception, among other things. There is no city like it in the world, and because it's so impenetrable, dabblers tend to stay away. It's constantly shifting, constantly surprising you. And it's still trying to figure itself out. For journalism, it can't get any better than that.

What's the most overused phrase used to describe our city?
Plastic. It's overused and inaccurate. To me, most of L.A. is crumbling.