Teen reporters start newspaper to give voice to their community

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LOS ANGELES — Eighteen-year-old Alejandro Rojas is tired of outsiders viewing his neighborhood of Boyle Heights as a hub of gang violence and housing projects.

So he and 13 other local teenagers aim to show the other side of Boyle Heights with a new quarterly newspaper.

Some 22,000 copies of the Boyle Heights Beat were delivered last month to homes in this heavily Hispanic neighborhood tucked in the eastern shadow of downtown Los Angeles’ skyscrapers.

The bilingual, 20-page tabloid is a project funded by The California Endowment, a health foundation. Spanish-language daily La Opinion and the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism are lending technical expertise.

The strategy behind the Beat is to portray the community as residents know it, not as how outsiders see it.