The Boulevard Sentinel is pleased to announce the NELA Neighborhood Reporting Partnership (NELA NRP), a professional collaboration between the Sentinel and the Community News section of The Occidental, the campus newspaper of Occidental College.
NELA NRP represents an investment both in student journalists and in reliable journalism for the communities of NELA.
“The Neighborhood Reporting Partnership will provide opportunities for The Occidental’s journalists while helping the Boulevard Sentinel to continue providing high quality local coverage,” said Teresa Tritch-Hendrickson, owner and editor of the Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of The New York Times (2004-2017). “Our joint effort could also be a model for other papers and communities to follow to help ensure the viability of a local press.”
Barbara Thomas, staff advisor of The Occidental and a former executive news editor at the Los Angeles Times, also sees a key role for students in providing local coverage. “I believe that student journalists can be part of the solution to disappearing hyperlocal news in this country,” said Thomas. “Our partnership can lead the way for collaboration with local news sites and trained student journalists.”
Under the terms of the partnership, The Occidental will hire a dedicated Community News team to cover the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Mount Washington and Elysian Valley. The student journalists will have opportunities to publish their work and be paid by both the Boulevard Sentinel and The Occidental.
In addition to co-publishing, participants in the NELA NRP will have access to a network of ‘Industry Guides:’ local, professional journalists who can provide writing feedback, industry insights and general advice to the early-career journalists at Occidental College.
The co-editors of the The Occidental’s Community News section, Matthew Reagan (senior) and Kathy Ou (junior), will oversee the partnership in the current school year. Reagan is a former editor-in-chief of The Occidental.
In hiring for the NELA NRP, The Occidental’s Community News section will be intentional about selecting students from communities that are underrepresented in newsrooms. The hiring of staff who are Black, Latino, Indigenous, queer and from under-resourced backgrounds is a required step to adequately cover the campus and surrounding community and to rectify hiring imbalances in journalism and media fields more broadly.
The partnership comes at a crucial time for local newspapers and student journalists, Tritch-Hendrickson said.
“The loss of so many local and regional news outlets means that student journalists face limited opportunities,” Tritch-Hendrickson said. “By teaming up with the Boulevard Sentinel, The Occidental journalists are taking advantage of the fact that their coverage area — Northeast L.A. — is still served by a local paper that can use and develop their skills.”
In advance of formalizing the NELA NRP, the Boulevard Sentinel and The Occidental have co-published articles on some of the area’s biggest news stories, including Scholl Canyon, local COVID-19 resources and mail operations in advance of the election. More articles are currently in the works to be published before semester’s end.
The Boulevard Sentinel has been covering NELA for 24 years. The Community News section of The Occidental launched in the Spring of 2017 with one-part time editor and has grown quickly. By the 2019-2020 academic year, the section had two full-time editors and published more articles than any other department at the paper.
The NELA NRP will combine experience and energy to keep local journalism alive and well in Northeast Los Angeles.
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. Hendrickson is committed to local news reporting and to finding a way forward for local news outlets in today's challenging media markets.