Jim Newton, left, and Mayor Eric Garcetti at the Blueprint launch. LA Observed
UCLA Blueprint officially launched its first issue last night at the chancellor's residence on campus, with a conversation between Mayor Eric Garcetti and Jim Newton. The former LA Times reporter and editor has shifted to Westwood to teach in the Department of Communication Studies and serve as editor in chief of Blueprint, which bills itself as "journalism with purpose. It’s a magazine about ideas for improving Los Angeles and California — and about the people and institutions charged with doing that."
From Newton's editor note in the first issue:
I spent more than two decades watching sausage being made in city, county and state government (and occasionally the school board), often baffled by the basis for decisions. Why doesn’t the subway go to the airport? Why does the region capture so little rainwater? Why do some drug offenders spend more time in prison than those convicted of violent crimes? The poison in each case is politics. The antidote is research.
Blueprint hopes to address that. We’ll publish two issues this year, with an eye toward ramping up to a quarterly once we have our bearings. Each issue will be built around a theme and will seek to present groundbreaking research — much of it from this university. We’ll also feature profiles and interviews, and take stock of the interesting people and ideas at the center of this region’s civic life. And we’ll grow, too, making changes and adding features as we do.
This is a magazine, not an academic journal. It features the work of journalists — indeed, this issue contains the bylines of some of Southern California’s most highly regarded reporters, as well as the work of a talented and creative design team and the brilliant illustrations of Noma Bar. Blueprint’s job is to explain academic work, suggest ideas for change and engage readers and leaders in a conversation about how to tackle the most pressing problems of this region and state. It’s meant to start conversations, not finish them.
The first topic is law enforcement and policing — they're calling it "the new science of safety." Newton interviews LAPD chief Charlie Beck and state Attorney General Kamala Harris. LA Times editorial writer Robert Greene moonlights with a story about the recent changes in leadership at Los Angeles County, including the new sheriff. There are also pieces by Washington Post politics writer Matea Gold (the former City Hall reporter for the Times), UC Irvine writing professor and former Times staffer Erika Hayasaki, and former Times writers Jeffrey Rabin and Lisa Fung. Former LA Times and Los Angeles Magazine writer-editor Richard E. Meyer is a contributing editor.
At last night's launch, Beck attended along with Controller Ron Galperin, DA Jackie Lacey, City Council members Gil Cedillo, Paul Krekorian and Bernard Parks, former supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Barbara Yaroslavsky, ex-governor Gray Davis, U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Kim Wardlaw and Bill Wardlaw, KCRW general manager Jennifer Ferro, Pat Brown Institute head Raphe Sonenshein, editorial page editor Nick Goldberg and politics columnist Cathleen Decker from the LA Times, author Amy Wilentz, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (a family friend of Newton's) and her husband Brad Hall, LAPD special assistant for constitutional policing Gerald Chaleff, and LA Chamber of Commerce president Gary Toebben. Plus UCLA Chancellor Block, his wife Carol and a bevy of campus officials.
During his conversation with Garcetti for the audience of about 120 guests on a patio, Newton announced that the next issue of Blueprint will be on the topic of inequality. Newton also disclosed in his write-up of the evening that Yaroslavsky, an alumnus and big Bruins supporter, is taking some kind of position at UCLA too. Details have not been announced.
There's the start of a website for the new publication at Blueprint.UCLA.edu and a fledgling Twitter feed. The whole thing is a sort of experiment in hybrid journalism and community outreach for UCLA. When UCLA announced last October that it hired Newton, he was charged with taking on "a wide-ranging effort to deepen UCLA’s ties to the civic life of Los Angeles and the region." Newton is the only journalist listed on the staff part of the masthead; the others are UCLA marketing and communications staffers and a number of additional marketing people at UCLA are thanked in the first issue. The dean who green-lit the project, Franklin Gilliam, is leaving the university to become chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His successor, as yet unnamed, will be a player on Blueprint going forward.
Boom: A Journal of California, the magazine edited by LA Observed columnist Jon Christensen, is housed at UCLA, where he teaches and is a journalist in residence, but the journal is independent of the campus and is actually published by the University of California Press. UCLA's other main involvement in journalism thus far is the Gerald Loeb Awards for business reporting and writing, presented by UCLA's Anderson School of Management. Judea Pearl, whose Daniel Pearl Foundation hands out yearly awards in the name of his late son, is a longtime faculty member at UCLA. The Daily Bruin is run by students. And UCLA Magazine publishes quarterly and online.
Noted: UCLA Newsroom, where I am the web director, is listed as a partner on the Blueprint website. I have nothing to do with the project; just an interested observer who knows most of the participants and hopes it grows into a new LA media presence. UCLA of course has no role in LA Observed.
Big week for interesting LA launches: New future of LA initiative launches in a big way
Couple of small clarification edits after the fact.