Periódicos de la Comunidad Iluminan las Injusticias Que Otros Ignoran

February 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Tenía solo 22 años cuando comencé mi carrera periodística en Eastern Group Publications y me siento afortunada de que EGP me haya dado la oportunidad de convertirme en una voz para la comunidad a una edad tan temprana.

En los próximos años, informaría sobre una gran cantidad de historias y temas, desde presupuestos de la ciudad hasta recortes de maestros, programas escolares innovadores, elecciones y retiros, limpieza de parques y comunidades, desarrollos en Montebello Hills, buenas reformas gubernamentales en Vernon y el asesinato de un alcalde de Bell Gardens, que frecuentemente fue polémico, por su esposa.

Hubo historias sobre el crimen, el juego amistoso de lotería en el centro de ancianos en Bell Gardens, una banda de mariachis de heavy metal, y la ira de los residentes en el este de Los Ángeles que temían que otro proyecto de transporte destrozara su comunidad.

Pero reportando sobre la planta de Exide, que ahora está cerrada en Vernon, que había contaminado las comunidades cercanas con productos químicos tóxicos que realmente marco una diferencia en la forma en que veía las noticias de la comunidad.

EGP ya había estado informando sobre este tema durante años antes de que yo llegara a la escena. Ya se había establecido como una voz para los sin voz, destacando un desastre ambiental que aún no había sido reconocido por los funcionarios del estado.

Mi cobertura de los problemas continuos causados por la planta de reciclaje de baterías de plomo ácido es lo que más me enorgullece. El artículo que más me ha significado, y que ha tenido el mayor impacto en mi carrera, es el que comparó las disparidades en la respuesta del estado a la contaminación de Exide en las comunidades de obreros en el lado este y su respuesta a la fuga de gas de Aliso Canyon en el área más afluente de Porter Ranch.

El articuló sirvió como una poderosa yuxtaposición de las dos catástrofes, llamando la atención de los funcionarios electos de la zona que, en general, habían hecho poco para responder al desastre de Exide, diciéndoles a los residentes que no tienen el poder o que el gobernador no hablaría con ellos.

Enfrentados con la realidad del terrible doble estándar cuando se trataba de proteger a los latinos de la clase trabajadora, sus electores, finalmente se vieron obligados a hacer algo para responder al creciente enojo por la disparidad detallada en blanco y negro.

Después de cuatro años de informar sobre Exide, me había convertido en algo de una experta en el tema, lo que me permitió crear esta narrativa. Al principio dudaba en llamarme una experta de Exide, pero mi editora, Gloria Álvarez, me recordó repetidamente que mis años de cobertura me habían dado una perspectiva y conocimientos únicas sobre el tema.

A diferencia de los principales medios de comunicación, había hablado con innumerables residentes a lo largo de los años, asistí a docenas de reuniones comunitarias y audiencias públicas, y reporté las historias que sólo podrían ser contadas por alguien que estaba realmente en contacto con la comunidad.

Estoy agradecida de que mi editora me haya alentado a hacer las preguntas críticas que elevaron mis informes.

Fue este estímulo lo que me llevó a pedir a los funcionarios elegidos locales, estatales y congresuales reunidos en Resurrection Church en Boyle Heights que celebraban el plan de limpieza del estado con la comunidad, por qué no se habían unido como lo habían hecho ese día antes para exigir una solución en nombre de sus electores. La respuesta insatisfactoria: alguien más había dejado caer la pelota.

Para cuando cumplí 26 años, había entrevistado a una larga lista de poderosos funcionarios electos que se vieron obligados a responder por Exide. Fui invitada a brindar comentarios en estaciones de radio, sobre la base de mis informes, y me desempeñé como panelista junto con uno de esos funcionarios en cuestión para analizar los problemas de calidad del aire.

Sé que la cobertura de EGP sobre la planta Exide marcó una diferencia en la batalla continua sobre esta injusticia ambiental. Me di cuenta de esto cuando un grupo activista local me reconoció por servir como una voz para la comunidad. Una coalición estatal de medios de comunicación étnicos pronto siguió con su propio reconocimiento, otorgando a EGP el primer lugar para una excelente cobertura del medio ambiente para nuestra cobertura del desastre ambiental de Exide.

EGP siempre ha sido una voz para el este de Los Ángeles y las comunidades del sureste del condado de Los Ángeles. Estoy orgullosa de haber tenido mi nombre en las páginas de sus periódicos.

 

Nancy Martínez es una Oficial de Comunicaciones Interactivas con la Ciudad de Torrance, donde está encargada del envío de información urgente al público. Reporto para EGP entre 2012-2017. Su amplia cobertura de Exide obtuvo el reconocimiento de su comunidad y un premio por la excelente cobertura del medio ambiente por parte de New America Media.

Shining the Light On Injustices Others Ignore

February 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

I was just 22 when I started my journalism career with Eastern Group Publications and I feel fortunate that EGP gave me the opportunity to become a voice for the community at such a young age.

Former EGP reporter Nancy Martinez, (pictured) was recognized by New America Media for Outstanding Coverage of the Environment.

Over the next several years I would report on a myriad of stories and issues, from city budgets to teacher cuts, innovative school programs, elections and recalls, community and park cleanups, developments in the Montebello Hills, good government reforms in Vernon and the slaying of an often controversial Bell Gardens mayor by his wife.

There were stories about crime, the friendly game of loteria at the Bell Gardens Senior Center, a heavy metal mariachi band, and the anger of residents in East Los Angeles who feared another transportation project would tear apart their community.

But it was reporting on the now-shuttered Exide plant in Vernon that had contaminated nearby communities with toxic chemicals that truly made a difference in how I viewed community news.

EGP had already been reporting on this issue for years before I arrived on the scene. It had already established itself as a voice for the voiceless, highlighting an environmental disaster that had yet to be recognized by state officials.

My coverage of the ongoing issues caused by the acid-lead battery recycling plant is what I am most proud of. The article that has meant the most to me, and made the biggest impact on my career, is one that compared the disparities in the state’s response to the Exide contamination in the mostly blue-collared communities on the eastside and its response to the Aliso Canyon gas leak in the more affluent Porter Ranch.

The article served as a powerful juxtaposition of the two catastrophes, catching the attention of the area’s elected officials who had for the most part done little to respond to the Exide disaster, instead telling residents they didn’t have the power or the governor would not talk to them. Faced with the reality of the terrible double standard when it came to protecting working class Latinos, their constituents, they were at long last compelled to do something to respond to the growing anger over the disparity painfully detailed in black and white.

Eventually, the major media outlets did pick up the story, never crediting EGP, which had been reporting on the issue for more than a decade. But the community knew EGP was there from the beginning, long before the cameras showed up.

After four years of reporting on Exide, I had become somewhat of an expert on the issue, which allowed me to create this narrative. I was at first hesitant to call myself an Exide expert, but my editor, Gloria Alvarez, repeatedly reminded me that my years of coverage had given me a unique perspective and insight into the issue. Unlike major media outlets, I had spoken to countless residents over the years, attended dozens of community meetings and public hearings, and reported the stories that could only be told by someone who was truly in touch with the community.

I am thankful that my editor encouraged me to ask the critical questions that elevated my reporting.

It was this encouragement that led me to ask camera-ready local, state and congressional elected officials— gathered at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights to celebrate the state’s long overdue clean up plan with the community — why they had not come together sooner like they had that day to demand action on behalf of their constituents. The unsatisfactory response: someone else had dropped the ball.

By the time I turned 26, I had interviewed a long list of powerful elected officials who were forced to answer for Exide. I was invited to provide commentary on radio stations, based on my reporting, and served as a panelist alongside one of those officials in question to discuss air quality issues.

I know EGP’s coverage of Exide made a difference in the ongoing battle of this environmental injustice. I realized this when a local activist group recognized me for serving as a voice for the community. A statewide coalition of ethnic media outlets soon followed with their own recognition, awarding EGP first place for outstanding coverage of the environment for our coverage of the Exide environmental disaster.

EGP has always been a voice for east, northeast and southeast Los Angeles County communities. I’m proud to have had my name on the pages of its newspapers.

Nancy Martinez is an Interactive Communications Officer with the City of Torrance, where she is charged with sending time-sensitive information to the public. She reported for EGP between 2012-2017. Her extensive coverage on Exide garnered her community recognition and an award for outstanding coverage of the environment by New America Media. 

EGP Wins Award for Reporting on Exide

October 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Eastern Group Publication (EGP) was presented an award for outstanding reporting by New America Media, an organization that represents ethnic media outlets and journalist from across the country.

More than 200 people turned out Sept. 19 for the 2017 NAM California Ethnic Media Awards in downtown San Francisco.

Former EGP reporter Nancy Martinez, (pictured) was recognized Sept. 19 by New America Media for Outstanding Coverage of the Environment.

Former EGP reporter Nancy Martinez, (pictured) was recognized Sept. 19 by New America Media for Outstanding Coverage of the Environment.

The event was a celebration of California’s ethnic media sector, the “bridge,” said NAM Executive Director Sandy Close, “that connects the diverse communities of the state to the wider civic realm and to each other.”

Judges selected 12 winners in 11 categories, including Politics and the 2016 Election, Health Care, Immigration, Education, Sports, Youth Voice and Cross Cultural Reporting. Awardees were chosen from a pool of 140 entries in four languages across California.

There are hundreds of ethnic media outlets across the state, serving communities both large and small. Whether they are large broadcasters, daily broadsheets or weekly and monthly magazines, hundreds of thousands of California residents regularly turn to ethnic media for news and information.

Former EGP Reporter Nancy Martinez won in the category Outstanding Coverage of the Environment for her story on the decades-long struggle to get elected officials and state regulars to address Exide Technologies’ toxic emissions and soil contamination in east and southeast Los Angeles, even as nearby Porter Ranch got immediate attention last year when a natural gas leak threatened the area’s more affluent residents.

Her article, “Exide, Porter Ranch: A Double Standard,” was “years in the making,” said Martinez, who began reporting for EGP at 22. “It really made a difference in my career because it elevated the type of reporting I was doing. It was a journey to get to that point.”

The awarded article is one of dozens of stories EGP has published over the last decade on the Exide environmental catastrophe that continues today, as residents and state regulators battle over the plan to clean up lead and other chemicals at thousands of homes, schools, daycare centers, businesses and parks.

State regulators, environmentalists and public health groups have called the fallout from Exide’s decades of polluting the largest environmental catastrophe in California history.

Martinez’ article was the first to point out the stark difference in how residents in lower-income, predominantly Latinos communities are treated compared to wealthier, predominately white residents when it comes to environmental justice issues. The article gave voice to the frustration and fear of residents long ignored.

“EGP thanks New America Media for its recognition of Nancy Martinez’ outstanding reporting on the Exide environmental catastrophe, and the double standard that still exists when it comes to environmental justice for people of color and limited means,” said EGP Publisher Dolores Sanchez.

“Martinez is well-deserving of this award.”

East Yard to Honor Leadership and Activism

June 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice will host its third annual fundraising event honoring leadership and activism June 23 at Tamayo’s Restaurant & Art Gallery in Commerce.

This year, the “Fighting For Life 2016 Celebration,” the largest in the nonprofit’s history, will honor Martha Matsouka, executive director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and Martha Dina Argüello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles for their work in environmental and social justice.

A special recognition will go to Eastern Group Publications/EGP News Staff Writer Nancy Martinez for her extensive coverage of the Exide Technologies contamination scandal. EGP publishes this newspaper.

Argüello and Matsouka, or “las Marthas” as they are known by activists, have been essential contributors to justice issues involving race, gender, health, economics, toxics, goods movement, land use, government and industry accountability, according to East Yards.

l-r Martha Matsouka, executive director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and Martha Dina Arguello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility- Los Angles will be recognized next week by East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. (Courtesy of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice)

l-r Martha Matsouka, executive director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and Martha Dina Arguello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility- Los Angles will be recognized next week by East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. (Courtesy of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice)

“They have long histories in the movement and are critical to the continuing success of EYCEJ, and many other spaces,” East Yard spokesperson Zully Juarez told EGP, citing a “platica” (conversation) on activism, organizing and personal experiences las Marthas had in May with East Yard members from Bell Gardens High School as an example of their work.

Martinez is being recognized “for highlighting Exide on Eastern Group Publications (EGPNews.com) and uplifting our communities’ voices and stories,” Juarez told EGP.

Martinez’s extensive four-year coverage of the Exide contamination fallout has led to her being a featured guest on KCRW’s Which Way, L.A.? hosted by Warren Olney, Press Play with Madeleine Brand and KPFK 90.7 FM’s Deadline L.A. with Barbara Osborn and Howard Blume.

Eastern Group Publications/EGP News Staff Writer Nancy Martinez will be recognized at East Yard’s “Fighting For Life 2016 Celebration.”

Eastern Group Publications/EGP News Staff Writer Nancy Martinez will be recognized at East Yard’s “Fighting For Life 2016 Celebration.”

“As we engage in long-fought campaigns from the ports of Long Beach to the impacts of Exide in Southeast LA and East LA and other nationwide campaigns, it is just as important for us to take time to acknowledge and celebrate our victories,” Juarez told EGP.

Proceeds from the event will help fund East Yard’s involvement in grassroots organizing and efforts to build leadership skills to enable underrepresented communities be heard. This activism influences policy makers and government agencies to institute health-protective environmental justice policies in the best interest of local, regional, and statewide residents, according to Juarez.

The environmental justice group, founded in 2001, is committed to developing a base of well-informed and well-equipped self-advocates, said Juarez, explaining that leadership development of our core group of volunteers, who lead advocacy efforts, is center to the nonprofit group’s mission.

Entertainment at the fundraising event will include performances by Jade Phoenix, a Queer, Trans Femme, Woman of Color, First Generation Filipinx-American, Parent, LA based Performance Poet and Activist/Educator. Robert Cabrales, director of Tenant Organizing at Inner City Law Center, will serve as master of ceremonies.

For sponsorship and ticket information, or to make a donation, visit http://eycej.org/calendar/fightingforlife/.

 

Update: 2:13pm, June 17, 2016. EYCEJ was founded in 2001. Print versions say 2011.

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