Alt-weeklies used to be a reliable staple. When I lived in L.A., the LA Weekly was my social bible. From the news to cultural events to movie listings, the LA Weekly was informative, stimulating, educational, and most of all, wrote compelling articles highlighting misdeeds, the voiceless, injustice and corruption.
Since those halcyon days, most alt-weeklies have either folded, been absorbed by larger media conglomerates or are mere shells of their former selves. Alt-weeklies used to be exactly what their name implied – the alternative, independent voice to the bigger corporate (and oftentimes, toothless) publications like the L.A. Times or the San Francisco Chronicle. Like most print publications, alt-weeklies (and the reporters whose work fuels the interest) have been thinned out by a lack of advertisement dollars and funding.
That doesn’t mean they’re all dead. In our hometown of San Francisco, the SF Weekly has turned out some of the best San Francisco reporters – bylines by the likes of Rachel Swan, Chris Roberts, Joe Eskenazi and Julia Carrie Wong (with the exception of Roberts, all have moved on to bigger outlets) have played a big hand in spotlighting issues that San Franciscans should care about. Along with the SF Weekly, there’s another alt-weekly across the Bay that has consistently turned out excellent journalism.
The East Bay Express has always been a powerful voice but their work in the past two weeks investigating and exposing the beleaguered Oakland Police Department and their exploitation of a teenage sex worker has been on another level. The scandal itself is stomach-turning and not only involves abuse of power but a cover-up of a possible murder disguised as suicide. No one’s hands are clean, not even the wife of a former police chief. The whole thing is despicable and encapsulates everything that is wrong with not only the OPD itself, but the infrastructure and power dynamics of police departments in general, a narrative that we’ve all been seeing play out on a national level.
The investigative reporting of East Bay Express reporters Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston has even led to the OPD spokesperson inadvertently outing one of the police officers previously unnamed in the scandal. They’ve made the entire department that flustered. It’s investigative journalism at it’s absolute finest.
If you can swallow your disgust at the abuses committed by these men (and a few women) in power, read the entire series that EBX has published. Their work deserves to be read, and changes demanded.
Go here: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/badge-of-dishonor-top-oakland-police-department-officials-looked-away-as-east-bay-cops-sexually-exploited-and-trafficked-a-teenagerdepartmen/Content?oid=4832543
By Katy L.