Newspaper by teens, for teens in peril

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LA Youth, which has published for 24 years, says if it doesn’t soon raise its half-million dollar annual operating budget (which IRS documents show pays mostly for the salaries of 4 adult staff members and consultants,) it’ll have to cease operations.

The paper, ironically, is printed for free by the struggling LA Times; 600 or so teens contribute to each year’s 6 issues, which are distributed across 450 area schools. There’s rent to pay, along with utilities, and insurance. Founder Donna Myrow says foundations aren’t ponying up money like they used to.

The idea of LA Youth is to give kids an outlet that’s more open than their school newspapers (that is, if they even have one) and to cross geographic boundaries–thus the paper’s brightly lit, centrally located office on Third Street in mid-Wilshire. That makes it easier for kids from all neighborhoods to reach.

Myrow says that’s exactly what has kept her from being able to sell ads in the paper in the past; she says advertisers have wanted only to reach kids in more affluent demographics.

I paid a visit to the office on Saturday, where about ten teens from places like Covina, Walnut, and Glendale worked on what could be the paper’s last issue. They talked about their dismay at the potential loss of this outlet for their ideas and their writing. And Myrow addressed the question of: Why not publish online?

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