In the sixth installment of this year's "How I Got That Story" series, OC Weekly staffer and ¡Ask a Mexican! columnist Gustavo Arellano discusses his column, which for the second time in three years won a first-place AltWeekly Award. He also talks to Elena Brown about getting hate mail, the immigration debate, and what he likes about writing for alt-weeklies. "At a daily newspaper, they ask you to do one thing and one thing only. I'd get so bored so fast I'd quit my job," Arellano says. "Here, I could write about anything, so long as it's good. That freedom is so intoxicating I can't see why anybody would not want a job like mine."

Continue ReadingHow I Got That Story: Gustavo Arellano

OC Weekly staff writer and ¡Ask a Mexican! columnist Gustavo Arellano's second book is due to be released on Sept. 16. Orange County: A Personal History is a memoir that examines the history of Orange County as seen through four generations of his family moving back and forth between Mexico and Anaheim. Ed Zotti, longtime editor of the syndicated Straight Dope column, also has a new memoir, which was released this week. His The Barn House: Confessions of an Urban Rehabber is a "memoir about fixing up an old house in the city and pursuing the urban version of the American Dream." Check out an excerpt on the Chicago Reader's site. Another memoir on the horizon is Prince Joe Henry's Princoirs. Henry is the longtime author of the "Ask a Negro Leaguer" column in the Riverfront Times, and the book is an extension of the column. If you're not into memoirs, some of Seattle Weekly cartoonist Scott Meyer's "Basic Instructions" comic strips have been collected in the new Help Is on the Way: A Collection of Basic Instructions, which was released this week.

Continue ReadingFour New Alt-Weekly-Related Books Hit the Shelves

Two AAN members placed in the overall General Excellence categories: Louisiana's Independent Weekly finished second in the Class I division and OC Weekly finished third in the Class III division. In addition, both Riverfront Times (Special Sections and Arts and Entertainment) and Westword (Consumer Affairs and Food and Nutrition) were finalists in two story-topic categories. More than 1,100 entries were submitted to the annual contest administered by the Missouri School of Journalism, which calls it "the oldest and best-known feature writing and editing competition in American newspapering."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Honored in Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards

A little before noon yesterday, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake hit Southern California, with an epicenter 29 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, according to the US Geological Survey. The quake, which was the largest in SoCal in more than a decade but apparently caused no major damage, was felt in AAN-member offices from San Diego to Santa Barbara, judging by a quick perusal of blogs. "[It] felt like I was standing on a rocking waterbed for at least 12 seconds. The building swayed back and forth. A large corkboard fell off my office wall," the OC Weekly's R. Scott Moxley reports. "An energy drink can stupidly placed (by me) on top of a file cabinet flew three feet in the air. The staff quickly evacuated the building and found phone lines dead." Up in Culver City at LA Weekly's offices, Mark Mauer notes: "The new LA Weekly building shakes like a leaf (at least around my desk) every time a car enters or leaves our garage, so it took a few extra seconds to figure out this was an actual earthquake and not just an SUV trying to find a parking space." The Santa Barbara Independent's Matt Kettman reports feeling a "long, rolling sensation," while San Diego CityBeat's Kinsee Morgan wins the award for brevity, simply noting the quake was the "biggest one I've felt yet."

Continue ReadingEarthquake Hits Southern California, Alt-Weekly Offices Feel It

Dave Segal, who resigned as The Stranger's music editor in 2006 after secretly allowing an employee from ad sales to write pseudonymously for the paper's Line Out blog and music section, has been hired as a music writer. "Whatever Segal's missteps as an editor, he remains an impeccable music writer -- passionate, knowledgeable, diverse in his tastes -- and so, after several rounds of musical chairs, we're bringing him back as a staff writer," writes current music editor Eric Grandy. "He'll have no managerial responsibilities -- to the point, he won't be hiring any freelancers -- but he'll get to do what he's best at, which is writing about music." Segal was most recently music editor at OC Weekly.

Continue ReadingFormer Music Editor of The Stranger Returns as Staff Writer

The "Commie Girl" columnist and former OC Weekly staffer was named editor of Los Angeles CityBeat this Spring amidst a relaunch of the paper. She says she's already receiving hate mail. One person wrote in to ask: "'Who's this inane, vulgar, rambling, trite girl who's a terrible writer and has a potty mouth'," she tells the Guardian. "And I was like, 'You live in Los Angeles, are you really that sheltered?'" Schoenkopf also says that she's now realized she willing blinded herself about notoriously conservative Orange County while she was there. "It's not the conservatism that bothers me: it's the nastiness," she says The nattering classes I'd thought were fringey were in fact the decision makers."

Continue ReadingRebecca Schoenkopf on Taking Over at CityBeat and Leaving the OC

When the Los Angeles Press Club announced the 50th annual Southern California Journalism Awards on Saturday night, five AAN papers and an Associate Member were honored. LA Weekly took home 16 awards, including first place in Editorial Cartoon, Entertainment Feature, Online Entertainment, News/Feature/Commentary and Signed Commentary. OC Weekly won a total of five awards, including first place for Entertainment Reviews/Criticism/Column, Group Blog, and Sports. Ventura County Reporter received a first-place prize for News Feature, while Los Angeles CityBeat won three awards and Pasadena Weekly won two. Associate Member Amy Alkon, aka the Advice Goddess, won four awards, including first place for Column.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Well-Represented in LA Press Club Awards

On Monday, the OC Weekly staffer and ¡Ask a Mexican! author received a Latino Spirit Award from the caucus. The award honors Latinos who have made a positive contribution to the state. "Why did I receive the award? Blame Hector de la Torre," Arellano says of the assemblyman who nominated him for the honor. At the ceremony, de la Torre "read some questions to and answers from The Mexican," according to Sacramento News & Review editor Matt Coker's report. "In an attempt to show the column is not frivilous [sic], de la Torre gave an example of the historial research that goes into Arellano's answers," using a column on "gringos vs. gabachos" as an example.

Continue ReadingGustavo Arellano Honored by California’s Latino Legislative Caucus

Kill the Messenger will tell the story of Webb, the San Jose Mercury News reporter who "committed suicide after being the target of a smear campaign when he linked the CIA to a scheme to arm Contra rebels in Nicaragua and import cocaine into California," Variety reports. The Universal film will be based on two books: Webb's own Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, and Weekly staff writer Nick Schou's Kill the Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb. The screenplay is being written by former New York Times Magazine correspondent Peter Landesman.

Continue ReadingOC Weekly Scribe’s Book is the Basis for Upcoming Gary Webb Film