Celeste Fremon's Witness L.A. blog has given well-deserved coverage to the efforts of USC journos investigating a Highland Park double murder. The shooting deaths of two high school students, Alejandro Garcia and Carlos Hernandez, occurred in broad daylight last month on heavily trafficked Figueroa Street. Gang members are suspected of accosting the two shortly after Franklin High School let out, even though the unarmed Garcia and Hernandez were not gangbangers. (Garcia was even a member of Franklin's ROTC program.)
Under the guidance of Annenberg J-School instructor Alan Mittelstaedt (a former L.A. Weekly news editor), nine student-journalists dug into the story and found, among other things, a sincere disinterest among the mainstream media toward the killings. (The same media, ironically, that would later report around the clock on the equally tragic hit-and-run accident that killed one USC student and injured another just off campus.) The first stories to come out of the investigation went onto Annenberg's news blog, Neon Tommy, this week.
The next day, the L.A. City Council approved Councilman Ed Reyes'
motion that a $75,000 reward be offered for information that would help
solve the case. Authorization of the money came 25 days after the
murders. By contrast, the council approved the same amount three days
after the USC hit-and-run accident to track down the driver
responsible for that crime. The journalism students' stories covered not only the
murders but also explored the gang presence that is part of the daily reality of the neighborhood in which Garcia and Hernandez lived and died. The
young reporters, in other words, did what their professional counterparts are
supposed to do but, in this case, didn't.