Think of The California Dream and there's a sudden rush of bubble-gum colored images. Surfers riding the crest of a golden endless summer. Pool-pocked and manicured suburbs, the tang of backyard barbecues in a bright blue sky, all connected by a free-flowing grid of ultra-modern highways. A bountiful future, fueled by a world-class university system and a population brimming with optimism and the security that their children will have better lives than theirs.
That was then. This is now. The Dream has been interrupted. The mention of the Golden State nowadays evokes a whole other set of associations: "ungovernable.. bankrupt...politically deadlocked...cutbacks, deficits, and foreclosures."
Is this merely an unfortunate but temporary parenthesis in the long, historic arc of California's glory? Or are we entering some sort of new period of history in which The Dream is destined to become but a memory?
Our Dream Interrupted project, carried by a new generation of ten reporters from the USC Annenberg News21 project, will be casting a fresh set of intrepid eyes and ears around selected communities in a quest to understand and report back on our current dilemma.
Employing the most innovative of reporting techniques while utilizing the power of new technologies and journalism methods, they will probe neighborhoods in Los Angeles, through Orange, Riverside and Ventura counties to measure and assess both our problems as well as solutions that will lead us forward. Join us for the journey. It's all about our future.
As part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative that brings together a dozen prominent universities, News21 aims to leverage the reporting power of the country's most advanced journalism students to shed light on selected issues of pressing civic importance.
The USC Annenberg News21 team, now led by veteran journalists and current faculty members Marc Cooper and Patricia Dean, has in recent years completed extensive and well-received multi-platform reporting on subjects ranging from immigration, religion, Campaign '08 and the shifting demographics of the Southwest.
About the News21/SoCal Connected Collaboration
The USC News21 partnership with SoCal Connected connects an elite group of 10 bright, budding journalists with working professionals at KCET. The Fellows will produce Web-exclusive multimedia reports in a special section of the SoCal Connected Web site. They'll work as part of the SoCal Connected team - contributing story ideas, collaborating with producers and keeping pace with the demands of a hard-hitting weekly news program.
"News21 will expand SoCal Connected's commitment to stories that traditional media has forsaken," says Bret Marcus, Executive Producer of SoCal Connected and KCET Senior Vice President of Programming and Production. "Whether for broadcast or online, our award-winning news team is renowned for its excellence, and we have complete confidence that the talented reporters on USC's News21 team will fit right in. We look forward to working with them to bring even more local coverage of the important issues of our region."
"We are delighted to work with KCET, a visionary, community-focused public media institution that shares our commitment to developing leaders in the communication revolution," says Marc Cooper, Annenberg Digital News Director and Journalism Professor. "News21 represents a step forward in reshaping the future of journalism, and SoCal Connected joins us in embracing innovative multimedia and multi-platform reporting."
Dream Interrupted: California in Crisis continues KCET's longstanding relationship with USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. KCET's award-winning productions California Connected and Life & Times, which laid the foundation for SoCal Connected, both featured broadcast reports by USC News21 graduate students. KCET's Web exclusive series, Departures, was among the finalists selected to present at USC Annenberg School's first-of-its-kind National Summit on Arts Journalism. USC Journalism Professor Judy Muller, currently an award-winning correspondent for SoCal Connected, also reported for California Connected and served as anchor of California at War, a one-hour California Connected special that looked at how World War II changed California, and how California changed the war.
USC's News21 fellows have gone on to posts at BBC, Politico, Marketplace, the Orange County Register, and NewsHour. KCET's Brian Frank, a SoCal Connected associate producer, is a former News21 fellow and a key player in the Dream Interrupted project.