Who Wrote Santa Ana Better This Week: LA Times, or NY Times?

No mention of loncheras? Minus one point for each
No mention of loncheras? Minus one point for each
Photo by Julie Leopo

In a complete coincidence, both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times published long, in-depth pieces on SanTana, both on its Latino super-reality, both by accomplished Latina reporters who have reported on SanTana in the past, both shared widely on Facebook, but not as much as news about the laughable "award" the city's downtown received earlier this month by Brave New Urbanists because the last thing developers in the city want the world to know about SanTana is that Mexicans live here. Wait...is this thing on?

Anyways, the pieces by LA's Cindy Carcamo and New York's Jennifer Medina (with an assist from Adam Nagourney) are both worth a read—but who wrote it better? Roll the tape!

REPORTER: Cindy Carcamo has covered SanTana for over a decade, first as a reporter for the Orange County Register, and for the past couple of years as an immigration reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Medina is a national correspondent for the New York Times, covering California. Both are past recipients of scholarships from the California Chicano News Media Association; both are chingonas. VERDICT: Tie. Good reporters, both of them.

NEWSPAPER: I have written for both Times in the past, and LA Times editor-publisher Davan Maharaj is an OC resident. But we're pissed at the Times for their recent over-the-top retelling of the Kent and Jill Easter saga, a story our Matt Coker reported in real time. And the New York Times just published a story about Donald Trump allegedly groping women. VERDICT: New York Times. Oh, and #fucktrump

ANGLE: Medina's piece used SanTana as a microcosm as the Reconquista of California. As a result, the majority of the piece focuses on politics across the state, with cameos by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and others. Unfortunately, that means Medina (and co-author Adam Nagourney) give way too much time to SanTana politicos who fib about how raza they actually are: councilmembers Michele Martinez and Vince Sarmiento, and Mayor-for-Life Don Papi Pulido, who makes a cameo to whine about being "sensitive to non-Latino voters"—because they are the last people who support him.

Throngs of people on Calle Cuatro at Noche de Altares
Throngs of people on Calle Cuatro at Noche de Altares
Photo by Josue Rivas

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Carcamo, on the other hand, focused on Latino merchants on Fourth Street who say they're adapting to the downtown's gentrification to survive. It was fine, if done before and far too cheery about what gentrification has wrought on the area. Frankly, there was more focus put on details in quinceañera shops ("organza ruffles," "subdued hues of mauve, lilac and sea green," "velvet-tufted sofa") than the city-sponsored machinations that emptied out la Cuatro of Latino merchants—just a quote tossed out to Cal State Fullerton professor Erualdo González that seemed out of place in Carcamo's rah-rah report. VERDICT: New York Times. Sorry, Cindy; I owe you a drink at Mercado.

GENTRIFICATION: Carcamo's piece was all about its aftermath, even if I didn't agree with the angle. Medina's piece, on the other hand, didn't mention it. Once. Sure, she did a great piece devoted to downtown SanTana's gentrification years ago, and there was a photo of American Barber Shop in the most recent piece, but to talk about SanTana without mentioning the issue is like talking about Curt Pringle and not mentioning his poll guard incident. VERDICT: Los Angeles Times. Sorry, Jenny; I owe you a drink at Mercado.

SANTA ANA SUBTLETIES: Medina and Nagourney aren't based in Orange County, so their editors missed a couple of things. The opening photo of the mural in SanTana's Logan Barrio isn't just the "faces of local men who served in the armed forces"; it's WWII vets. And the Times missed how coucilmember Vince Sarmiento has only recently gone by "Vicente"—before that, he was Vince or—when he wanted to sound like a fancy paisa—Vincent (the Times could've also noted he's the only non-Mexican on the council, as a Bolivian). Carcamo, of course, knows the city—no contest. VERDICT: Los Angeles Times

IMPORTANCE OF STORY TO PAPER: Both were big endeavors, given prominent placement in each dead-tree edition, online, and in newsletters. Good! Verdict: Tie. I owe Cindy and Jenny a michelada apiece.

FINAL VERDICT: Tie. Both of the pieces have their pluses and minuses, and frankly, both of them are light-years behind the Weekly in covering SanTana. But they are both worth a read, and both put SanTana on the national map anew. On the other hand, neither worked in "SanTana" or #santaanalookslikethis, so there's that...HA!

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