Saturday, March 21, 2009

Meet Laura Diaz

When I think of news reporting, I tend to think of the local reporters I see around here. You know the type -- the ones who cover the local costume contest at the Mall at Halloween, or who have to go down to the local coffee shop to ask questions like "Do you think the mayor's plan to put in cable cars is dumb?"

It always seemed kind of boring to me. I wondered who'd ever want to become a local news reporter. Then I read about Laura Diaz. Laura Diaz isn't sitting on the corner covering the St. Patrick's Day parade -- she's reporting things like the story of Billy Queen -- a federal undercover agent who broke up a tough, murderous motorcycle gang. And Laura Diaz doesn't just report on people who take on gangs -- she takes them on herself, like when she went head-to-head and confronted an upset gang member when she was reporting about hatemongering between African-American and Latinos in Los Angeles.

It's that kind of reporting that got her eight Emmy Awards, and got her the 2005 and 2006 Golden Mike Awards -- and it's reporting like getting the first in-depth interview with then-incoming mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that got her the national "Imagen" Award in 2006. She's gotten the LA Press Club's most prestigious award, the "Joseph M. Quinn Award" for excellence and distinction in journalism.

With that kind of background, she could do almost anything -- but Laura Diaz has used her background to help others. She sits on the advisorty board of "The Joyful Child Foundation," which was started to help organize neighborhood watches and keep child predators off the street-- a cause Laura has been committed to ever since she gave extensive coverage to the murder of the foundation's starter's daughter. The group recorded a fundraising album and helps fund creative writing programs and provides assistance to nonprofits helping to prevent child abuse and predation.

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