More than 50 parents, students and stakeholders attended Cafe de Olla with the Boyle Heights Beat Reporting Team, a quarterly forum held at the Boyle Heights City Hall.
The meeting was aimed at giving residents a direct opportunity to become involved by sharing story ideas.
Youth reporter and moderator Brizette Castellanos expressed the value of having the public participate in regular community forums hosted by the BHB.
“As a newspaper that is por y para la comunidad, (for and by the community) we truly value your support. Many of our story ideas come from you–the community– at our regular forums like this one, where you tell us what issues affect you and what are the stories not being told.”
Two of the reporters who have been with the program since its beginning, Melissa Martinez and Yazmin Nuñez, spoke about what they have learned– experiences they say will help them when they enter college in the fall.
“I’ve always been shy,“ Martinez explained, “and have lived a sheltered life.” She said, the program “helped me as a person, as a student, and as a community member.” Martinez said being a Boyle Heights Beat reporter has helped her become involved in her neighborhood.
Nuñez spoke about her latest story on the California drought and explained why she choose to write on the topic. She said, during her four years at Boyle Heights Beat, she’s realized the importance of reporting on issues affecting the community and the need to give information to the public.
Boyle Heights Beat community contributor Maria Arredondo also shared how she became involved in writing for the online version of BHB. She described how fulfilling it was to be able to tell stories about her community. Although she’s not a writer, she said, “anyone can do it. They have great mentors who can help.”
The public applauded Boyle Heights Beat youth reporters for their coverage on health care, pollution and immigration.
Carlos Montes, an activist and current president of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council congratulated reporters. “I really like the newspaper,” he said. “There’s great coverage on important issues.”
Other community members offered story suggestions on problems facing seniors and the disabled, empty lots, organizations in the Wellness Center, LGBT issues and more stories on Hispanic youth.
Boyle Heights Beat has produced 11 print editions and distributes 28,000 to homes, business and organizations in the neighborhood.