Real estate developer and community activist Danny Bakewell talked to Michael T. Jarvis in the LAT Magazine on Sunday about his new role as publisher of the oldest black-owned newspaper in the West. Excerpts:
Why do you want to be a newspaper publisher?
I don't know that I did this because I really want to be a newspaper publisher as much as I seized an opportunity that was presented to me by [prior Sentinel owner] Jennifer Thomas, who invited me. It's an awesome responsibility to be able to influence black thought and to help people clarify and crystallize issues that are important to us. I'm certainly not the traditional publisher, but I do intend to be a good publisher and a publisher to be reckoned with...
What stories are underexposed in South-Central?
We're not the priority for the mainstream media. I want to put the pressure on. They ought to be looking at the Sentinel and asking, "Why didn't we cover that? It's a big story." We've had police brutality running rampant in our communities for decades. Let's listen to car-to-car and person-to-person [communications]. Let's go read the reports. We intend to really put a face and a feeling to the kind of hunger and pain that the black community has been enduring and in some instances are still enduring.
Will you continue to be involved with real estate development? Could that pose a potential conflict for a newspaper publisher?
I don't see it at all. I'm even surprised by the question. I don't think I'll be acting any differently than the publisher of the L.A. Times or the Daily News. We're going to be held to the same standard of being ethical, being morally correct and running a level of journalism that is professional and that has extraordinary aggression as it comes to defining the quality of life.
Bakewell's first job in L.A. was waiting tables at the Friars Club in Beverly Hills. He tells Jarvis that "one day I'm going back there for lunch."
* Update: An email to L.A. Observed says that the May 13-19 issue of the Sentinel ran 38 photos of Bakewell and/or his family. Let's hope that's not the Bakewell vision for the paper.
Previously on L.A. Observed: Danny Bakewell takes over Sentinel