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Teen newspaper L.A. Youth to cease printing after 25-year run

January 14, 2013 |  6:04 pm

The issue of L.A. Youth intended to mark 25 years of the newspaper produced for teens by teens will also be the end of its run.

The newspaper -- printed six times a year and distributed in schools across Los Angeles County -- was centered on first-person accounts of young people writing about themselves, their culture and their community. The students explored such subjects as life as an undocumented immigrant, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and budget cuts in the schools -- as well as such lighter fare as music reviews and school lunch options.

But L.A. Youth has struggled financially in recent years, reeling from the loss of foundation grants and corporate donations that were a primary source of funding, its leaders said.

And in a letter appearing in the January-February edition -- which is being printed this week -- founder and Executive Director Donna Myrow wrote that the difficult situation has "overburdened our budget and placed an undue amount of financial strain on the L.A. Youth family."

The organization's board of directors voted Thursday to cease publishing and close by the end of February.

"It's over," Myrow said in an interview. "We couldn't raise any more money. We absolutely could not raise any more money."

L.A. Youth operated on a budget of $500,000 a year, with a circulation of about 70,000 and an estimated readership of 400,000, according to Myrow. The newspaper was distributed to the classrooms of more than 1,200 teachers.

The staff included two editors who worked with the student writers through the writing process, from conceiving ideas at Saturday editorial meetings at the newspaper's Fairfax district headquarters to the nuts and bolts of crafting the stories.

"We put the emphasis on personal journalism, meaning lots of stories starting with the word 'I,'" Myrow wrote in the letter. "We filled our pages with pieces that were heartbreaking or uplifting or funny, but always painfully honest. Our writers were encouraged to express their feelings; we wanted their voices to shine through."

The anniversary issue -- now, its finale -- includes contributions from alums who discussed the impact of having such an outlet. Myrow said the end of L.A. Youth will leave a sizable void for students.

"No one's going to be carrying on the work we did," she said. "We're unique. You look at the paper. No one else is publishing this."


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