New Kid on the Block: Antelope Valley Times keeping area up to date

City-data.com map of Lancaster and Palmdale

Map of where Lancaster and Palmdale are located Map: City-data.com

A fresh news outlet in the Antelope Valley area has shown the small cities of the area that there is more to what can be read in the weekly paper.

The Antelope Valley Times started in 2011, giving the Antelope Valley a daily perspective of what goes on in the nearby cities. The Antelope Valley now has two news outlets. The Antelope Valley Press is the weekly newspaper that also provides news to the area but requires a subscription. If a resident is not subscribed to the paper, then they can miss out on the daily activities in the area. It is also weekly and may not cover everything that has happened or is currently happening.

The Antelope Valley consists of multiple cities and is located off the 14 freeway. Main cities include Palmdale, Lancaster, Acton, Littlerock and Victorville. These cities are separated by desert. According to the Census, in 2013 Lancaster had an estimated population of 159,523 and Palmdale estimated 157,161. Businesses included 10,904 in Palmdale in 2007 and 10,459 in Lancaster in 2007.

The Antelope Valley also holds a few widely known events. The poppy field is known to be around

Lancaster City Park

Lancaster City Park Photo: Dadrienne Thompson

that area and Lancaster City Park in Lancaster hosts the Poppy Festival every year during the spring season. Another known event is Gracefest AV, held in Palmdale at Marie Ker Park, where famous Christian bands such as Barlow Girl and Hawk Nelson hold concerts in the fall.

Even though this area is considered to be small, many things occur that others may not realize. According to city-data.com, both Lancaster and Palmdale were over the U.S Average for violent crimes in 2012 but were under the average in property crime.

“I don’t think the crime is different than any other local place,” said Makeda Dilworth, editor and copublisher of the Antelope Valley Times.

When the Antelope Valley Times began, they seemed to cover crime more than any other subject in the area, or so it appeared. As time went by, people still showed interest in the articles but they decided to pulled back on the crime reporting and only reported specific types of crime, such as shot and hit, serious injuries or events ending in deaths or major reinforcement. By doing this, crime became more local and relatable to residents in the area without making it seem like crime was constant.

Just recently, Dilworth made a Los Angeles County story a more local reality to the Antelope Valley residents.

One of the main cities of the Antelope Valley

One of the main cities of the Antelope Valley Photo: Dadrienne Thompson

In March of this year, an LAPD officer was suspected of being apart of a murder. As a result, he contacted his father and they fled to Texas first, then to Mexico. Dilworth saw the story while looking through a news wire service called City News Service.

City News Service is a site where news organization may subscribe to receive news in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. The news is received around the clock and covers a variety of subjects, ranging from celebrities to economy.

“When I came across the article I saw it pertained to the Antelope Valley,” said Dilworth. “I started to research and saw that the father was from Lancaster.”

After researching, Dilworth had to call the LA regional media department to get the affidavit forwarded to her. She said one of the hardest things about being a smaller news outlet is having people answer you back. She explained that at times she would call every half hour just to get the information needed to complete her story and that was the case with this article. When the affidavit was finally sent, she mentioned she had to follow up on the paperwork to make sure it came to the destination.

Whether a small or big news outlet, helpful information about a subject can be requested. The Freedom of Information Act helped in receiving the necessary information to complete this article. The FOIA is “a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government,” according to their website.

Because of this act, the Antelope Valley Times was given access to the affidavit that was linked in their article from another source who also used it and the surveillance photo used in their follow up article about the father assisting the his son.

When the information was gathered, Dilworth explained it was easier once the affidavit was received and the idea to localize the article was already thought up.

The article gave weight to the father’s contribute to the officers story. After the shooting, the LAPD

Lancaster Residential Street

Lancaster Residential Street Photo: Dadrienne Thompson

officer, Henry Solis, called his father, Victor Solis. After the phone call, his father was reported to have left his house in a hurry. He then proceeded to help his son flee to Texas and eventually Mexico.

According to the Antelope Valley Times, Victor Solis had told the FBI that he drove his son to a bus station in El, Paso, Texas and that was all. After viewing a surveillance video in the area, the story was confirmed false. He and his son were seen walking to Juarez, Mexico.

Solis was then arrested at his home in Lancaster and appeared in an LA federal court an hour later. He was charged with false statement to law enforcement.

The turn on this article to focus on the father made it local and of more interest for people to read the article in the AV area. Most residents did not even know of the shooting, according to Dilworth, since it took place in downtown Pomona, according to an article done by the Los Angeles Times. But when it was brought an hour or two up the freeway, it became more of a reality and concern.

Local Lancaster resident Joseph Aguiar says this about crime in the Antelope Valley,

“If we could only live in our homes what we want to see in society than maybe we can return to see less crime.”

Despite the Antelope Valley Times pulling back on some of the crimes that occur in the area, there are still daily crimes that happen and are updated. Some crimes are even forgotten and brought back to life when a trial or plead is updated.

Los Angeles Superior Court

Los Angeles Superior Court Photo: Dadrienne Thompson

There are four main stages where updates on crime in a court setting take place. First is when someone receives a charge. In the article by the Antelope Valley Times, the charge on the father was mentioned toward the end of the article. The second is entering the plea. This stage can be hard because there are instances where dates are postponed for multiple reasons. The third is the preliminary hearing, where the details come out of the court and are reported. Lastly is the opening day of the trial. The opening day is covered because sometimes trials can take up to two years. Reporters will cover the verdict and the sentencing.

Articles are also updated when people are identified or mistakes have been made. In a recent article about a shooting, the age of the victim reported was wrong and updated as soon as the actual age was corrected.

“We only watch out for our home and the term ‘neighbor’ is becoming a thing of the past,” explains Aguiar. “Friendliness is followed with a question mark.”

Dilworth explains that these stories are shared and updated every week to every day. Stories about crashes, shootings and hearings gives people the opportunity to respond to what is going on in their neighborhood. Their page has a section at the bottom of each story to give comments. These comments show mourning, concern and are sometimes just a place to vent.

The Antelope Valley Times has given a new perspective to the Antelope Valley area about their news in a timelier manner. The online page makes it easier to share stories and their updates on social media sites such as Facebook makes reading the news more accessible. Their localization of news gives residents more of a connection to what is going on, not only in their cities, but their county as well.

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