The Alhambra Source, a community news site affiliated with USC Annenberg, recently won the Community Advocate Award given by New America Media (NAM). “This is tremendously powerful,” said Daniela Gerson, Alhambra Source editor. “It’s very meaningful, particularly for the community. It shows our efforts are paying off.” NAM’s Community Advocate Award is given to ethnic media organizations that highlight its public advocacy on a specific issue impacting its own community and/or California, said NAM Chair Odette Keeley. “Advocacy could include consistent reporting on an untold or controversial topic/issue; raising public awareness through organizing or sponsoring events; promoting policy change through editorials; and public speaking,” Keeley said. The Alhambra Source won for Jesse Chang’s article "Why is Alhambra stopping churches from housing homeless families?" “I think the (Alhambra) Source didn’t want to be just information, they help bring issues to light,” Chang said. “This is an issue for me, and the Source was able to be a platform for that.” Sandy Close, executive director and executive editor of New America Media, presented The Alhambra Source with the award at the 2013 NAM Ethnic Media Awards Gala Ceremonies on March 7.
Ethnic media have a long tradition of being the frontline defenders of their communities, exposing wrongdoings and speaking out against injustices. Tonight we are honoring a publication that exemplifies what it means to be an advocate for their community. When the City of Alhambra decided to stop churches from housing homeless families, Alhambra Source published an article questioning the move. The story led to a local outcry and resulted in the City Council reconsidering its ban on sheltering homeless families at churches.
Chang is a community contributor to the Alhambra Source. As someone involved in the faith community, Gerson asked him to come write for The Alhambra Source. “I became an advocate,” Chang said. “I work trying to organize churches to be more involved in the community… and they need to know this stuff is happening. Even if they don’t want to do something themselves, they can support them.” NAM selected Alhambra Source after evaluating essay submissions and also the nominees' story entries that highlight their news outlets' goals, which was the case of Alhambra Source, said Keeley. Over 150 entries were submitted to NAM for consideration in print and broadcast journalism, but only 25 entries were selected as winners, with a few others cited as runners-up and honorable mention awardees. The Alhambra Source is the result of a research project directed by Communication Professor Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Journalism Professor Michael Parks, investigating how local news can better reflect community information needs, cross linguistic and ethnic barriers, and increase civic engagement. The site launched in September 2010, and since then more than 50 Alhambra residents have contributed a story and attended meetings.