Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Healthy Partnerships Strengthen Us All

East Palo Alto Today will be nine years old in January 2015. This year, especially, it has worked in collaboration with other ethnic media organizations to expand and enhance the news coverage it has provided to its readers.

The partnerships the paper has formed have only added to the collective strength that collaborating media organizations bring to the individual communities they serve.

As 2014 comes to a close, EPA Today, on behalf of its founding organization, the East Palo Alto Center for Community Media, would like to thank all of its followers for the opportunity to be of service. We know that with their support and your support, EPA Today will be able to continue to fulfill its commitment to bring relevant news and information to its reading public. It will also be able to continue to strengthen its partnerships with other media organizations.

As the new year unfolds, we have one request of you. As EPA Today and the East Palo Alto Center for Community Media partners with others, a key goal is to continue our collaboration with you - our reading public.

So, as you read these words, please consider how you can partner with us in 2015 to enable us to fulfill our commitments to you. For ideas, see

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Role of Ethnic Media: Increasing in Influence

With California's growing multi-cultural population, one can expect that various ethnic groups will develop and support media outlets that focus on their individual issues. Félix Gutiérrez, a professor of journalism and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, supported this idea when he said, “In a multicultural society, people pay attention to media that pay attention to them.”

A 2013 Pew Research Center survey showed that the mainstream media in the U.S. is declining dramatically.
Nearly one-third of the survey's respondents (31%) said that they had deserted their regular news outlets because they no longer provided them with the in-depth news and information to which they had grown accustomed.

A poll taken several years ago by the firm Bendixen & Associates, showed that ethnic media in the U.S. is thriving. According to the poll, one quarter of the U.S. population regularly turns to ethnic media for information and 13% of U.S. adults said that they preferred ethnic media over mainstream media as a source of their information.

As mainstream media outlets shrink and undergo various transformations, ethnic media outlets are continuing to assume responsibility for getting critical news and information to their individual communities.

While some might debate the extent of the growing power of ethnic media, their influence is evident in many communities throughout the U.S.

One of the nation's most prominent ethnic media organizations is New America Media, also known as NAM. In future posts, I'll say more about New America Media and describe how East Palo Alto Today and my show, Talking with Henrietta, are working with NAM to get information to the public on several important issues.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Personal Tribute: Remembering Former State Assembly member Ira Ruskin

Since the inception of the Talking with Henrietta television show, which started in 2002,  I have interviewed hundreds of interesting and engaging people.

Photo courtesy of the Ruskin family
Ira Ruskin
It is an honor for me to be able to list former State Assembly member Ira Ruskin among them. It is with sadness that I read over the July 4th weekend that Ruskin died on July 3rd from a brain tumor.

I will remember the interview that I did with Ruskin and Steve Poizner in 2004, when they were running against each other to be elected to the California State Assembly, representing the 21st Assembly District. It was a hard fought election that Ruskin won. 

In the ensuing years, Ruskin was a frequent guest on my show. In October 2009, he appeared with East Palo Alto’s former police chief, Ron Davis, to discuss the topic, The Fight Against Crime - Is It Working? On the show, we examined whether local and state crime initiatives lead to a reduction in crime. See a show excerpt at
A photo taken in 2010 showing State Assemblyman Ira Ruskin,
Henrietta J. Burroughs and Senator Joe Simitian on the Talking
with Henrietta television show.
In February 2010 – Ruskin was a guest along with former State Senator Joe Simitian for a discussion of the challenges facing California’s public and higher education systems.  The show was called, The Race to the Top - Why Should We Try to Get There? A show excerpt can be seen at

Later in November 2010, Ruskin joined Paula Sandas, the former president and CEO of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and the then Vice Mayor of East Palo Alto, Carlos Romero, on the show for a discussion of Election Results: What Do They Mean? – You can see an excerpt from that show at

State Assemblyman Ira Ruskin is shown
in 2010 handing a piece of his birthday cake 
to East Palo Alto City Councilman Carlos
Romero after their show discussion on
Talking with Henrietta.

We even had the chance, thanks to his press secretary, Karen Zamel, to celebrate his 66th birthday right after our show discussion, since he had come to the taping on his birthday.

It was several months later in May 2011, as he was preparing to run for the California State Senate that Ruskin announced that he had a malignant brain tumor that could be contained, but not cured.

I last spoke with Ruskin during a chance encounter earlier this year at the entrance to Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City. I was leaving the hospital after a routine appointment. He was arriving for a doctor’s appointment to continue the treatment he was receiving for his brain tumor. In introducing me to his wife, Cheryl, he was as gracious off the set as he was on the set.

 Resolution from the California
Legislature for the East Palo Alto
Center for Community Media
There were other occasions involving Ruskin that will be treasured. For example, it was a personally, gratifying moment to receive, on behalf of the East Palo Alto Center for Community Media, a Resolution from the California Legislature that Ruskin co-signed with Senator Simitian in December 2005 recognizing the center’s founding and the future launch of the East Palo Alto Today newspaper.

It is, indeed, a memorable experience to have had the opportunity, since his 2004 election, to talk with Ruskin about his work in the California State Legislature,  about the issues affecting California and the nation and to share this information with my show’s viewers.

Ruskin has already been described as a well-respected legislator in the accolades now being made following his death. I would also add that, during my encounters with him, I found him to be conscientious, genuinely concerned about those around him and prepared to give his best to the constituents he served.

I am fortunate, as a journalist, to have on-going opportunities to discuss the issues of the day with local and national leaders. I will sincerely miss, as will many others, having the opportunity to talk with Ira Ruskin, again.

See Ruskin family announcements regarding his funeral service on July 9th at

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Death of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter Brings Back Memories

          The death of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was front page news in many newspapers on Easter Sunday and it was headline news all over the Internet.  As you will recall, Carter was the African-American boxer who was in prison for 19 years for a murder that he said he did not commit. 
          His story generated sympathy around the world in the 1970’s. It inspired singer Bob Dylan to compose his popular protest song, Hurricane, and it led to the 1999 hit movie, The Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington. 
          The reports about Carter’s death this past Sunday gave me an opportunity to connect with my own past as a reporter in New York City, because they reminded me of the review that I wrote of Carter’s autobiography, The Sixteenth Round. My book review appeared in The New York Times Sunday Book Review Section. You can read it below.
        As a youth, Carter joined a gang and had some major encounters with the criminal justice system. After waging the fight of his life outside of the ring, he finally got through his convictions and imprisonments and gained his freedom.    
     Later in his life, Carter professed his faith in the system that had put him behind bars. He believed that he was proof that justice could be obtained under our legal system. He said that if you tell the truth, the truth will eventually win out.
      Our penal institutions are full of prisoners who hope Carter was right.
Review of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's book, The Sixteenth Round

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bringing You Up-To-Date

Over the past few months on my show Talking with Henrietta, I have discussed a number of important issues that affect us as individuals, as citizens of our country and as members of a global community. I have produced ten shows since my last posting on this blog.

You can see excerpts from three of these new shows on Youtube, shows such as:

1) How Far Have We Come Since the March on Washington  Taped in October 2013, it can be seen at

2) The Affordable Care Act: Where Is It Working?  Taped in November 2013, this show can be viewed at

3) Immigration: A Need for Change  Taped in November 2013, an excerpt from this show can be viewed at

However, there are other shows that I taped, which do not yet have video excerpts that you can see. But you can view information about these shows on the East Palo Alto Today website. Here are some of them, which have their specific links listed opposite their titles:

Youth Empowerment: Making It Happen  -
Top News Stories of 2013 -
Is the Economic Boom Trickling Down? -
New Resources for Homeowners and Tenants -
Creative and Affordable Housing Solutions -
Educating Children to Succeed in a Global Economy -
Preventing Inhumane Events from Occurring -

All of these shows are certainly worth watching. Do check them out if you've missed any of them. In the meantime, I'll post more video excerpts some.