By Emily Anne Espinosa |Staff Writer|
Los Angeles Times journalists and editors arrived on campus oct. 20 to discuss the recently published controversial articles about the San Bernardino community by the LA Times.
Last year, the LA Times covered the urban living conditions of the city in the seven part series, “San Bernardino: Broken City”, as well as the coverage of the Dec. 2 shootings.
The coverage of the Dec. 2 shootings lead the LA Times to receive a Pulitzer Prize, with a $10,000 cash award.
“San Bernardino: A Quest for Understanding” Symposium, addressed the criticism about their recent piece released during the summer 2015 “A Broken City” series written by reporter Joe Mozingo.
Event attendees included President Tomas Morales, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Davan Maharaj of the LA Times, Dean Terry Ballman of College of Arts & Letters, Dr. Michael Salvador, the Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, as well as other faculty members, students, and officials.
“I was aware of the reaction of the San Bernardino community to their series, the San Bernardino: Broken City series, but also their wonderful coverage of the tragic Dec. 2 attacks said Ballman. “I thought that it might be difficult because these topics are not easy, but that’s precisely what the University should do, to provide venues so that we can have difficult conversations,” continued Ballman.
Maharaj expressed his concern and respect for the community, offering a moment of silence for the Dec. 2 shooting victims.
“They wanted to reach our community and I think that statement was made very clearly with their Editor-in-Chief and with his remarks, they were very heartfelt too, especially regardng the December 2nd victims and that their intent is to communicate that they really care about this community,” said Ballman.
Serving on the panel were LA Times Journalists Mozingo, Paloma Esoquivel, and Dr. Rodd Metts, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, and Dr. Mary Texiera, Professor of Sociology.
Specialist, Sunday, and Enterprise editor of the LA Times, Bob Sipchen, moderated the discussion.
Mozingo’s visit combined with photographer Francine Orr and videographer Liz Baylen, resulted in the creation of his Broken City series.
“It changed my perspectives of all cities in some way, said Mozingo. “I’d like to say that the story is a distillation of the woes of cities across America. San Bernardino got hit a little worse, but there are cities that are very close to here that have always had these same problems,” continued Mozingo.
Others argued that the reporting of the city focused too much on one narrative, and did not accommodate other aspects of the community. What was the reporting supposed to do? Expose both or just one side?
“There’s the argument that the coverage turned people away from San Bernardino, it made it harder to attract business to San Bernardino and that impedes the ability of the city to the make things better,” said Salvador. “On the other hand, there’s the argument that bringing attention to real, serious problems will force government officials and other people to take it seriously; they can’t sweep it under the rug and ignore it,” continued Salvador.
Last May, Tanya Erlach, the LA Times Director of Editorial Events, had visited campus and proposed to have the symposium
“I will give a lot of credit to the LA times, it was really their idea,” said Salvador. “They reached out to us and I think when they received the Pulitzer prize for the coverage of a very tragic event in our community, I think they felt an ethical responsibility to be connected with that community, and to give something back to that community.”