Our Past and Present
The Alhambra Source is the only local news website dedicated to coverage of Alhambra, a multiethnic Los Angeles suburb of 86,000 and the gateway to the San Gabriel Valley. Launched in 2010, the site grew out of two years of sociological research that found a stark lack of civic engagement and a paucity of interethnic relations. Professional journalists, professors, researchers, and students at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School developed the hyperlocal website as a model of public service journalism that provides local news for diverse communities. Reporting in three languages (English, Mandarin, and Spanish), we at Alhambra Source publish relevant, fact-based news and human interest stories for residents of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.
Community engagement is at the core of what we do, collaborating with local organizations, businesses, and residents. The site also offers a platform for people to become engaged with others in the community. Dozens of volunteer contributors, working with staff reporters and mentored by professional journalists, have reported on local issues, and others have written opinion articles about them. Topics range from local politics to urban development, from student leadership to restaurant reviews.
Today, the Alhambra Source serves as a news resource for nearly 10,000 city residents. We have won three awards from New America Media. Staff members have published an array of academic articles and continue their research showing how the Alhambra Source is embedded in the social, political, and cultural life of the city and the San Gabriel Valley. Alhambra Source is now a project of Los Angeles-based Community Partners, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Envisioning Our Future
The Alhambra Source seeks to be a leader in the national effort to revitalize local journalism, so essential for advancing democracy. We aim to join the ranks of successful and respected hyperlocal websites. We are a proven civic resource, and we now invite community stakeholders to determine our future and assure the website’s sustainability.
In July 2017, Alhambra Source will begin a two-year transition from a USC Annenberg project to an independent, nonprofit organization. During this period, Los Angeles-based Community Partners will act as our fiscal sponsor, allowing us to solicit donations. An experienced advisory board has already been formed to guide the Alhambra Source toward independence.
During this period, we seek to expand the Alhambra Source’s base through organizational capacity building, better use of social media, increased trilingual storytelling, a website designed for mobile devices, and development of partnerships with similar community websites. We also plan to extend our reach into the San Gabriel Valley, where we already have readers. The goal is to increase our readership and to double the numbers of engaged residents. As a fiscally independent 501©3 nonprofit organization, the Alhambra Source intends to develop multiple revenue streams including memberships, commercial sponsorships, organizational partnerships, and community educational events.
The Alhambra Source is a proven hyperlocal news site that adds real, measurable value to the community. Our future holds the promise of continued success, greater reach, and a lasting example of how journalism of consequence can contribute to civic engagement in America’s diverse communities. We invite and welcome your engagement and support.
Want to get involved or have questions? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annenberg School of Journalism Director Geneva Overholser spoke in September 2012 with Alhambra Source Editor Daniela Gerson about USC Annenberg’s newly launched Civic Engagement and Journalism Initiative and how Alhambra Source plays an integral role in improving community engagement via thoughtful journalism. Watch below.
The City of Alhambra
Located approximately eight miles from the Downtown Los Angeles Civic Center, Alhambra is an independent municipality celebrated as the “Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley.” The Southern California suburb boasts of good schools, single-family bungalows, and low crime rates. Main Street has maintained its position as the historic and municipal heart of the city, while Valley Boulevard is a contrasting image with mostly Asian immigrant owned businesses stretching east.
Today, over 85,000 people call the ethnically diverse City of Alhambra home. When Alhambra became an incorporated city in the early 1900s, it had been a predominantly Caucasian suburb. However, a massive Asian influx into the area that began nearly three decades ago transformed the neighborhood into an immigrant community. During the 1990s, this residential area witnessed a 23.5% surge in the number of Asian residents, a 69.3% drop in the number of Anglo residents, and a slight growth of 4% in the number of Latinos. According to the 2010 census, Asians, mostly ethnic Chinese, constitute 53% of the neighborhood’s current population, followed by Latinos (34%) and Anglos (10%).
A half-century ago, growing up in Alhambra meant ham sandwiches at the counter at Leiberg’s Department Store, treats from the soda jerk at Fosselman’s Ice Cream Company, and lining the streets for the annual “Hi Neighbor” parade. Today, Alhambra youth are more likely to be found at late-night boba tea sessions, watching a lion dance down Valley Boulvard for Lunar New Year, or working on dance moves with a pan-ethnic hip-hop crew at JayVee Dance Studio. Fosselman’s still exists, but now taro or lychee ice cream is scooped along with vanilla. The transformation of Alhambra represents and reflects the changes to come in many more suburban neighborhoods across the country.
9.17.2012: Alhambra Source at 2
Four years ago a team of communication scholars, researchers and journalists set out to create a community news website that would increase civic engagement and cross ethnic barriers in a predominantly Asian and Latino immigrant city. Since Alhambra Source launched in 2010, it has grown to more than 60 community contributors who speak 10 languages and range in age from high school students to retirees. Their stories have helped shape local policy and contributed to a more engaged citizenry within a diverse community.
Read on for five lessons we have learned along the way about improving civic engagement through a local news site.
9.2.2011: Alhambra Source Turns 1
One year ago, I watched nervously in a loft tucked away above Lovebirds café as our webmaster made the Alhambra Source go live. I was about to find out whether an experiment based on two years of research by USC scholars was viable: Could a local news website, staffed primarily by volunteers, not only provide valuable local information, but also engage diverse residents who often do not speak the same language?…
Read the story of Alhambra Source’s first year, and what’s next.
What people are saying about Alhambra Source
- Reporting Pushes Past Language and Ethnic Divides — Nieman Reports
- The Alhambra Source offers news in three languages — English, Mandarin, and Spanish | LA Weekly
- “A new website has recently entered the online news arena, providing critical information to the residents of Alhambra, a small city located a few miles east of downtown Los Angeles. And it’s doing so in multiple languages.”
- Three cheers for hyperlocal | Hometown Pasadena
- “The most impressive hyperlocal journalism site we’ve ever seen… Dreamed up by forward-thinking folks at USC’s Annenberg School for Journalism & Communication, Alhambra Source is a full-fledged community newspaper that exists only online—and has content in three languages, English, Mandarin and Spanish. It has a strong team of writers (including restaurant reviews from respected bloggers Two Hungry Pandas), and it welcomes community contributions yet stays professional in tone, look and content.”
- Translating research theory into a multilingual local news website | Online Journalism Review
- “Beautifully edited community paper” — Jonathan Gold
- Community Advocate Award (2013) — New American Media
- Finalist in Health Reporting (2013) — New American Media
- Youth Journalism Award (2011): “Why are so few other Latino students in leadership positions?” — Los Angeles Multicultural Leadership Network and New America Media Inter-Ethnic Relations Awards
- Youth Journalism Award (2011): “Summer workshop takes on Main Street” — Los Angeles Multicultural Leadership Network and New America Media Inter-Ethnic Relations Awards