In 1992, after Rodney King was brutally beaten by police officers in Los Angeles, California, who were subsequently acquitted of the beating, local communities were set on fire by mobs of people who were angry about the injustice and felt as though the verdict represented a long history of racism in L.A. that would no doubt continue as a result of the verdict. It saddened me to see my beautiful city burning.and to see it racially and ethnically divided. I felt I had to do something to help bring our city together.
One way I felt we could begin racial healing was to combat the media narrative that suggested L.A. was a criminal haven full of racial rioters and civil unrest. So I created Good News Magazine – an English and Spanish-language publication that highlighted the many examples of people working together across racial and ethnic lines, with a mission of bridging racial and cultural gaps.
I had never published a magazine before, and while the idea was exciting, initially my friends discouraged me from pursuing the project, suggesting that "good news" wouldn't sell. I knew that in order to make Good News a reality, I had to not only identify people and stories that readers would gravitate towards, I also had to figure out how to finance such an ambitious venture. In order to get funding, I queried more than 100 companies to advertise in the paper and many of them said, "no," agreeing with my friends that positive news wasn't a seller. I tried to find a distributor for the paper, but with no track record of success, my publication was not top priority for distributors.
But my persistence paid off; finally, I received my first “yes” from Toyota to advertise in Good News. Then, I received a “yes” from the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper to distribute it as an insert in their weekly newspaper. Nearly a dozen journalists agreed to write stories, and my former editorial boss when I was an intern at the Herald Examiner newspaper, Don Frederick, (who then worked as an editor for the Los Angeles Times), agreed to help me with editing. My 16-year-old son Jonathan came on board as my editorial assistant and Good News Magazine became a reality!
Among the first publications in the country to push for positive news, our stories focused on how former at-risk youth grew into adults who gave back to their communities and youth programs in the area that were making an impact ‘and initiatives among Hispanic, Asian and African American business owners that were making a difference.Within a few months, the magazine’s circulation grew from 15,000 to 45,000 copies, with additional major corporations lending their advertising support. The publication was distributed throughout Southern California by 7-Eleven convenience stores, and at the Los Angeles International Airport concession stands. Good News seemed to fill a void, and in 1993, I parlayed the magazine into a Good News television news segment on the KCOP-TV (UPN) nightly newscast that I produced and hosted myself.
Although it was a rough start and took some time for me to land that first “yes” for funding of my idea and distribution, I never wavered from believing that Good News Magazine was going to come to fruition. I believed it was possible for me to achieve what some called the impossible, and it came to pass!
Julia’s Fearless Living Tips:
1) Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Ask for funding. Ask for resources. The worst someone can say is, “no,” and that just brings you one step closer to the one who will say “yes”,
2) Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. If there are tried and trusted ways of doing something, copy it and expand on it with a new concept.
3) Write ideas down on paper. Ideas take form and become more concrete when they’re written down.
4) Become a finisher. Believe in yourself, and don’t quit because the going gets rough. Hang tough, and don’t let other people discourage you. Encourage yourself when no one else will, and keep pushing until you finish what you started.
5) Deliver for the people counting on you. Say what you’ll do, and Do what you say.
6) Expand your thinking. Always consider ways to take your initial ideas to the next level, and the next.
Until next time:
“May the curiosity of life keep you aware,
The power of love push you forward,
And may the love of life,
Keep you living in the Spirit of "Fearless Living!” – Julia