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Our Newsroom’s Mission: Uncovering LA (With Your Help)

I started as an editor in this newsroom a little more than a year ago, and it's been inspiring to work alongside journalists committed to public service.

That mission is at the core of everything we do. It permeates how we talk about stories. It's why our reporters, producers, hosts and editors chose to work here. But we know that deepening our connection to our existing audience and finding new listeners and readers are critical to sustaining our newsroom.

That's why over the last few months we've spent quite a bit of time thinking about how we are finding and telling stories, and how we can do an even better job of delivering reporting you won't find anywhere else.

I want to tell you why we decided this was so important, and talk to you about the role we believe our fellow Southern Californians can play in creating a more informed community.

You’ve probably noticed it’s been a tough time for our industry. We have politicians calling reporters the “enemy of the people,” and dismissing stories they don’t like as “fake news.” There's an endless stream of newsroom layoffs.

But we know what we do matters, that the Founding Fathers had it right when they guaranteed a free press in the First Amendment of our Constitution.

So here’s our mission and promise to you:

KPCC's mission statements.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC
KPCC's mission statements.
Of course, it's one thing to write that down and it's another thing to make it happen. We know we have to earn and keep your trust by delivering fair and accurate reporting. We know we need to make important stories interesting. And we also know we need to be more transparent in our process and better explain how we report stories.

It's a big change from when I first started in journalism, and showing your work was largely frowned upon. But I've come to believe that what a lot of traditional journalists thought was self-serving is actually valuable. How would you know it took months of hard work to deliver that one crucial takeaway in an investigation, if we don't tell you?  We shouldn't shy away from taking you along on the reporting journey when it makes sense, instead of just waiting to deliver a final story.

We also know the news can feel overwhelmingly negative at times. We talk a lot about how to bring you stories that also inspire you, make you laugh and explain something you always wondered about – even if it isn’t breaking news.

OK. So how do we deliver? I asked our reporters and producers to really think about the communities and crucial issues they cover, and to write their own individual mission statements.

The goal?  Spend as much of their time as possible on original stories (and not get stuck echoing information that everyone else is reporting.)

They enthusiastically embraced the assignment. Here are the topics and questions we plan to spend most of our time on in the coming months. Let us know what you think:

INVESTIGATIVE TEAM

Annie GilbertsonAaron Mendelson and Rina Palta, Investigations:

Twitter: @AnnieGilbertson | @A_Mendelson | @kpccrina911

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

ASIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Josie Huang, covering Asian American communities:

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

JOBS & THE ECONOMY

David Wagner, covering the economy

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

EDUCATION

Adolfo Guzman Lopez, covering higher education

Twitter: @AGuzmanLopez | Email: aguzman@scpr.org

Kyle Stokes, covering K-12 schools

Twitter: @kystokes | Email: kstokes@scpr.org

Carla Javier, covering arts education

Twitter: @carlamjavier | Email: cjavier@scpr.org

Priska Neely, covering early childhood development and education

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

ENVIRONMENT

Emily Guerin, covering the environment

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

DAILY NEWS

Emily Elena Dugdale, covering daily news developments

Twitter: @eedugdale | Email: edudgdale@scpr.org

HEALTH

Michelle Faust Raghavan, covering health care

Twitter: @MicheReports | Email: mfaust@scpr.org

Alyssa Jeong Perry, covering community health

Twitter @alyssajperry | Email: aperry@scpr.org

HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS 

Matt Tinoco, covering housing and homelessness

Twitter @onthatbombshell | Email: mtinoco@scpr.org

EMERGING COMMUNITIES

Leslie Berestein Rojas, covering immigration and emerging communities

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

ENTERTAINMENT

Mike Roe, covering entertainment

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

FOOD & DINING

Elina Shatkin, covering food 

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

INFRASTRUCTURE

Sharon McNary, covering infrastructure:

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

ORANGE COUNTY

Jill Replogle, covering Orange County

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

POLITICS

Mary Plummer, covering politics:

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

PUBLIC SAFETY

Frank Stoltze, covering public safety

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

RELIGION & DIASPORA

Aaron Schrank, covering religion and diaspora

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

SCIENCE

Jacob Margolis, covering science

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

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

Libby Denkmann, covering veterans and military affairs

Twitter @libdenk| Email: ldenkmann@scpr.org

WHY IT MATTERS AND WHAT YOU CAN DO

You'll be hearing more about these missions on air at 89.3 FM, and you'll find easy ways to ask questions or give us story tips on the stories we publish on LAist.com, the website we acquired last year.

For many of us, becoming journalists was a calling. It's not always easy to talk to strangers or ask tough questions. I got my start in the fourth grade. I wanted to create a newspaper so I assigned myself a story and dragged my friend Linda Gonzales through a hole in the fence at the shabby public golf course near my home. We tracked down a couple of confused golfers and questioned them about their life goals.

My mom ran it all off on a mimeograph (this was pre-copy machine days), and I went door-to-door to deliver the news. (I really hope Linda’s memory that we called it the “Daily Hamburger” is correct!)

What made me do it? Curiosity. A chance to learn about the world. A desire to share someone else’s story.

Today, I’m fortunate to have a much bigger platform. It’s one I take very seriously, and the support we feel from our KPCC + LAist members drives us and motivates us all every day.

You’ll never be required to pay to listen to us on the radio or stream us from our app. You’ll never hit a paywall on our website.

So we have to prove that our journalism is worth paying for, and worth your donations. It's pretty remarkable, what your support has built. Next year is the 20th anniversary of the founding of Southern California Public Radio. In that time, support from our members has taken a low-performing public radio station and turned it into one the region's biggest newsrooms, and one of the most powerful NPR affiliates in the country.

We're excited to see what we can build together next.