A ROSE WHO REPORTED GOOD NEWS WITH AN AWESOME SMILE
By Joe Ortiz
I’m writing something different from my normal focus on OUR DAILY BREAD and instead would like to pay tribute and honor a dear, dear friend of mine who passed away (unexpectedly) last night, September 4, 2009.
This wonderful lady is a fellow journalist and blogger who has put pen to the pedal for over 35 years, as a news reporter and columnist for Eastern Group Publications (a syndicated newspaper chain in East Los Angeles, California), and most recently on her own blog, Coast 2 Coast. (http://coast2coast.typepad.com/)
There is no one person, group, organization nor community and civic leader in the in the greater Los Angeles area who is not aware of Rose Soto’s commitment to the Latino community. If it even remotely was worth publishing, she would write the story in a highly professional manner, presenting the subject matter in a classy, honorable and integrity-filled style. Rose Soto could have been a reporter for any major newspaper in the country, but we’re proud and glad she stayed in East Los Angeles.
Rose Soto could always be seen at numerous events, banquets, grand openings and any community gathering, with notebook and pen, ready to jot down the details, and get back to her office to meet her deadline.
Joe Ortiz provided publicity for 3 Academy Awards viewing parties at Le Mondrian Hotel held by Beverly Hills entrepreneur and promoter Michael Bass. He invites many friends and clients to attend and network the event, including designer Alycia Enciso, Miller Brewing Co.'s Victor Franco, Giselle Acevedo; PR guru Bob Alaniz; KTLA reporter Minerva Perez, LBA President Ana Barbosa, writer Rose Soto (right front) of Eastern Group Publications and its publisher, Dolores Sanchez.
They say that the conquerors of nations are the ones who write their own history and, the Latino community, until the last three decades or so, never really had anyone one to chronicle the day to day happenings of the predominately Hispanic community of East Los Angeles, until Rose Soto. We praise folks like Ruben Salazar, Pete Moraga Sr, and Frank del Olmo for their journalistic contributions to issues Latino, but Rose wrote the stories that probably would never get past the gatekeepers of the Los Angeles Times or any of the major electronic media in the City; but Rose Soto made sure the local community was informed.
But yet, publicists, press deputies and information officers of various elected officials, community organizations and corporate America knew that if they wanted to reach the Hispanic community, they would have to pitch their information to the folks at Eastern Group Publications and Rose would write the stories.
We (public relations folks) were always tugging at her sleeve about a story we were selling, and she would look you in the eye with that awesome smile of hers and tell us to send her the info. If you were lucky, she would do the story; but not because she was your friend, but because the story had merit. Rose was the consummate journalist; if it was newsworthy, she would write it. Even if she disagreed with the content, she was fair and did the story, knowing her readers would make up their own minds. She never skewed her stories to the left or the right, she just made sure the information was factual. What a rarity in the journalism community. I was proud to be her colleague and most of all her friend.
The thing I will always remember about Rose Soto was the unique commitment to our Latino family, one that bespeaks the need to chronicle our history, our achievements, our hopes, dreams and inspirations with dignity. We both felt that it (the recognition of our contributions to American society) was not about gaining fame and fortune, or even climbing up the stairways and landing in a lofty place among the hallowed halls in the castles of our country’s elite. Our goals have always been about being treated with dignity and respect. Rose Soto did that in everything she wrote.
I left the Los Angeles community in 2000 after a 35 year career as a broadcasting journalist and public relations practitioner, to focus on writing my books and live a slower lifestyle. I stayed in touch with about a dozen friends, and Rose Soto was one that I missed the most. I remember back in July 2006, Rose sent me an email to say she googled me and found my web site and wanted to know what I was doing these days. She also said she missed getting her annual birthday (June 10th) salutations which she said she always enjoyed and appreciated. We were both over-joyed to reconnect, and discussed the good old days and shared stories about many of our mutual friends and the media trends in both Los Angeles and the much slower pace of the Inland Empire.
About two weeks later, Rose sent me the link to her Coast 2 Coast Blog and I was stunned she had written an article about my new endeavors. I say stunned because I didn’t lobby her for any story.
About six or seven months ago I was chatting with another dear friend, Victor Franco, Vice President of Community Affairs and Media Relations for the Telemundo Network. Victor used to be the Community Relations Director for the Miller Brewing Company and I was proud to be his publicist for close to ten years. Both of us decided it was about time we got together and that we should invite a few friends to join us and, obviously, Rose Soto would be included.
Six of us met at Las Fuentes restaurant in Redlands, California last February, including Victor; entrepreneur and former media guru Pete Moraga, Jr., space planner extraordinaire Alycia Enciso, actress and singer Liz Navar, and yours truly. And of course, Rose Soto!
We spent about three to four hours together and reminisced about the good old days, and decided we should do this more often and include more of our friends in future gatherings. That was the last time I saw Rose Soto, other than we would email each other almost daily, sharing information and those silly Internet jokes as well.
Someday in the future, all of us will be reunited again, some sooner than others, because Rose’s sudden death reminds us how vulnerable (and short-lived) life truly is! When we do meet, I hope there will be a special wing in Heaven reserved for Latino writers, journalists, authors, broadcasters, columnists, public relations practitioners, and others in the communications business. I know that when we get there, many of us will be thrilled to know that Rose Soto will probably be sitting at the head table, welcoming us with open arms, wearing that beautiful and awesome smile.
And she would probably say, “Hey guys! Give me your story. What’s new in our community? Come on! Let's have it! I have a deadline!”
(Left to right, Pete Moraga, Jr. entrepreneur and former media guru; Victor Franco, Vice President of Community Affairs and Media Relations;Liz Navar, actress and singer; Joe Ortiz, writer; journalist and commentator; Rose Soto, Journalist, and Alycia Enciso, space planner extraordinaire ~Meeting at Las Fuentes Restaurant in Redlands, California in February 2009)