Courtesy of L.A. Youth
L.A. Youth co-managing editor Amanda Riddle, right, works with Charles Watkins, a teen in foster care, on his story about being grateful that he was adopted. The newspaper written by teens for teens will cease publishing next week.
L.A. Youth - the newspaper in Los Angeles written for teens by teens - will close next month after 25 years.
L.A. Youth publisher Donna Myrow said the newspaper's landlord hasn't renewed the lease for its office space, and the grant money she relies on to operate the paper - about $500,000 each year - hasn’t come through.
“I’m very upset and I’m very sad, I have an extraordinary staff [and] the teens are sad about this, too,” she said. “There is no other project like this in Los Angeles.”
Teen writers at L.A. Youth are assisted by paid editors to write in their own voice about foster care, adoption mental health and other issues important to teens. The latest online issue includes a first-person story by a teen struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a story about hiking spots in Los Angeles, and a story by a community college student trying to get the classes she needs while she works to pay for school.
Six times a year, the paper reaches about 400,000 readers at L.A. County high schools and libraries.
L.A. Youth made a fundraising push last year to avoid a shutdown, but raised just enough to get by.
“There was an extraordinary angel who heard me on KPCC last May and gave us $150,000, and smaller donations came in. But I realize with all these small donations and calls coming in now, people respond to crisis,” Myrow said. “But this isn’t a fundraising crisis. This is the final blow.”
Myrow said most of the money raised for L.A. Youth over the past 25 years has come from foundations outside of Los Angeles. She said she thinks there is a lot to learn from what happened to L.A. Youth.
“I think people need to think about why they respond to a crisis instead of sustaining all along and stepping up saying ‘I’ll join your board’ or I’ll do this or that for you,” she said. “I don’t think I saw that and I think L.A. is a city that’s really lacking in that. I know in other cities, it’s not the same thing because I talk to colleagues around the country.”
The final issue of L.A. Youth is out next week. You can view the issue online, too.
Myrow said she wants to thank supporters for keeping the paper going as long as it did.
"The biggest thank you goes to the Los Angeles Times - 25 years of printing our paper for free, we couldn't have done it without them," she said.
All are invited to L.A. Youth's “farewell party" on Feb. 2. It will be held at the paper’s office from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.