Many of the nation’s most difficult social problems are writ larger in Los Angeles than anywhere else. Yet all too often those problems go woefully under reported.
The LA JUSTICE REPORT aims to change all that.
LA is the gang capital of the nation. We have more homeless here than anywhere else in the U.S. And LA County has more parolees released back into its communities than any other place in the country. Our school system is among the nation’s largest, most complicated---and most troubled. America’s biggest mental health hospital is the Los Angeles County jail system. LA has the biggest foster care system. And LA is central to the nation’s the immigration conversation. And….
You get the picture.
However with the ongoing transformation in the world of legacy media, many of the most important stories in the arena of social justice are under-covered at best. Often they are not reported at all.
To help fill that gap, Spot.Us and WitnessLA.com have formed a partnership we are calling the LA Justice Report.
In this section, you’ll find pitches for stories we believe absolutely must be investigated.
Through your support and your interest, we will accomplish these crucial investigations.
WitnessLA started in March of 2007 with a grant from the Justice and Journalism Fund, with the intention of covering the social justice issues in Los Angeles that were increasingly being overlooked or ignored.
Spot.Us launched in 2008, pioneering community-funded reporting through important editorial partnerships like this. Our first network in the Bay Area garnered a committed following, with voices across Northern California speaking up and speaking out about what needs more local coverage. We now also focus on LA.
Given our individual purposes, a joint effort between Spot.Us and WitnessLA that would merge our strengths in the social justice arena seemed to be a natural.
The assignment below ---FOLLOW THE GANG MONEY: HOW IS LA USING OUR $25 MILLION? --- is the LA JUSTICE REPORT’s first investigation.
There will soon be other investigations in such arenas as education, prison policy, enviromental justice and more.
We will detail all of these as assignments attached to this pitch. You can join the team of the LA Justice Report by applying to tackle an assignment. Once you apply, Witness LA, the editorial power behind this project, will be notified.
In this season of budget meltdown and city layoffs, the City of Los Angeles has more than $25 million allocated for gang violence prevention and intervention---all of which comes directly out of the city’s general fund.
But how exactly are those multi-millions being spent?
LA has a gang problem that still blows unbearable holes in our communities, so gang intervention and prevention is essential--AND our city is in a state of fiscal crisis. Thus, we believe it is time that we found out exactly what we are getting for that $25 million.
The FOLLOW THE GANG MONEY series will rigorously investigate the use of LA’s gang money---the good, the bad, and the hidden issues---and bring back a comprehensive report.
CELESTE FREMON is WitnessLA’s creator and editor. She is also an award winning freelance journalist specializing in gangs, law enforcement, criminal justice and education policy. She’s the author of G-Dog and the Homeboys, and is working on a new book, An American Family, about the life of a parolee, his wife and kids, during his first four years out of prison (based on her LA Weekly series of the same name). She’s a senior fellow for social justice and new media at the Institute for Justice and Journalism, a Visiting Lecturer at UC Irvine where she teaches literary journalism as it relates to social justice, an adjunct professor at the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California, and a regular commenter on NBC's The Filter. (She is also a river rafter, critter patter, rose wrangler, and the outrageously proud mom of Will Mason, who keeps the technical side of WitnessLA up and running.)
MATTHEW FLEISCHER is a member the LA JUSTICE PROJECT reporting team. He is also a veteran LA-based journalist and editor who has been a staff writer with the LA Weekly and senior editor of the LA City Beat. He is currently a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, editor for Fishbowl LA, and he writes for several other outlets both print and online. Matt has been honored by the Association for Alternative Newsweeklies and by the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) for his story “Navahoax.” His story “Children of the Revolutionary” was honored by the The LA Press Club and First Amendment Funding Inc. Matt is a recipient of a Village Voice Media Fellowship. When Matt is not writing he wanders, usually by foot.
Government functions best when its actions are examined under a bright light by the press.
Yet, for the past few years, local LA media outlets have been unwilling or unable to shine that light on the city’s gang programs. Thus, although questions and complaints have been voiced privately, the programs remain unexamined in the public eye.
The LA JUSTICE PROJECT’S Follow the Gang Money series will change all that.