As the disposable income of U.S. teen-agers has increased, so has the number of youth-oriented magazines. Most are product-driven publications designed to promote fashion, cosmetics, sports or motor vehicles. Others are written and edited by adults, whose interests may not always coincide with those of their readers.
L.A. Youth is different, both in concept and structure. The 24-page tabloid, whose inaugural edition appears today, is written and produced by teen-age journalists in Los Angeles. The intended audience: people like themselves, ages 13 to 18.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday March 11, 1988 Home Edition View Part 5 Page 9 Column 1 View Desk 2 inches; 48 words Type of Material: Correction
Due to an editing error in Thursday's View story about L.A. Youth, former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart was identified as author of a proposal to require students to stay in school, get satisfactory grades and maintain good behavior in order to qualify to obtain driver's licenses. State Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara) authored the proposal.
"The most important feature of L.A. Youth is that it's written by teens," said Cindy Price, a 17-year-old senior at Narbonne High in Harbor City and the paper's layout and production editor. "It has a perception of how to relate to teen-agers."
Based on the first issue, Los Angeles teen-agers are interested in race relations on campus, teen-age pregnancy, pollution in Santa Monica Bay and the recent Supreme Court decision denying First Amendment protection to student newspapers.
Other features explore the anxiety that accompanies Scholastic Aptitude testing, tougher police enforcement of local street gangs, voter registration drives organized by the sons and daughters of celebrities and new Los Angeles Police Department regulations concerning curfews and truancy.
"There's a lot of high school newspapers in Los Angeles, but they don't always let you print the truth," said Joy Shioshita, 16, Los Angeles bureau chief of Youth News Service, a national, nonprofit wire service. With a budget of $1 million and offices in eight cities, the wire service feeds teen-oriented features on a monthly basis to more than 500 schools and corporate clients.
Eight Issues a Year
Published eight times a year by the Los Angeles bureau of Youth News Service, L.A. Youth will have an initial press run of 18,000 copies. Once it attracts enough corporate sponsors to underwrite the $80,000 annual budget, the paper hopes to print 70,000 copies, according to Donna Myrow, executive director. If an average of three students reads each copy, L.A. Youth could have a potential readership surpassing 200,000, she said.
Five other cities--Chicago, New York, Toronto, Portland and Wilmington, Del.--have similar monthly newspapers. All are reported by local Youth News Service staffers and distributed through schools, libraries and teen centers.
Because of conditions unique to Los Angeles, L.A. Youth will have a different distribution pattern. In addition to the 47 schools that have expressed interest in receiving complimentary copies, the paper will be given away free at shopping malls and record stores.
L.A. Youth is produced by a core group of 15 students, drawn largely from West Los Angeles, and funded by 15 corporate sponsors including Times Mirror, Gannett and Liberty Hill foundations.
Myrow hopes the paper's city-wide distribution will encourage teens from South-Central Los Angeles, where some high school newspapers appear only sporadically, to contribute stories and think seriously about careers in journalism.
Staffers plan their own stories and already are investigating apathy among 18-year-old voters, and former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart's proposal to cancel the drivers licenses of teens whose grade fall below a minimum level.
"These are the kinds of stories kids want to read," production manager Price said.
Editorial director Evan Lorenzetti from Mira Costa High School agreed. "This paper was created to report stories, not to sell products."