Patrick Range McDonald has won the “Best Activism Journalism” award from the Los Angeles Press Club. In previous years, he received the “Journalist of the Year” award from the L.A. Press Club and the national “Public Service” award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, among other honors. McDonald is currently working as the advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right, a housing justice organization based in Los Angeles.
McDonald earned the “Best Activism Journalism” award for his 2019 investigative report on Los Angeles’ gentrification crisis, titled “The Garcetti-fication of Los Angeles: A Gentrification Cautionary Tale.”
In the report, he wrote: “At the end of his inauguration speech, as the sky grew dark, Mayor Eric Garcetti boasted that Los Angeles is a ‘paradise.’ In truth, the nation’s second largest city had become a high-profile cautionary tale about modern-day gentrification in California and throughout the United States—and how politicians vigorously push it through. It’s a story that took place over years and often behind closed doors, but can no longer be ignored. Too many lives—in L.A. and across the country—hang in the balance.”
Recently, Fordham Magazine interviewed McDonald, an alumnus of Fordham University in the Bronx, about winning the award, his journalism work, and his start at the paper, the school’s alternative newspaper. Fordham was founded by Jesuits in 1841.
“In my senior year at Fordham, the first Gulf War broke out under President George H.W. Bush in 1991,” McDonald told the magazine. “I was opposed to the war, and I was reading a lot of war coverage in the mainstream media and the alternative press. For me, the mainstream media was getting it totally wrong … so I pitched an idea to the paper about covering an anti-war rally, and they said go for it.”
“It set me on my career path,” McDonald added, describing his work as a kind of “spiritual calling” and a way to use his skills as a journalist “to be of service by making the world a better place. … Now that I think about it, it’s a very Jesuit approach to life, isn’t it?”
Asked if his journalism has created change, McDonald explained, “It’s a more subtle change that can inspire or fuel big change. The work does make a difference, one way or another—if only to hold powerful people accountable and shine the spotlight on them, which they don’t like at all.”
McDonald is currently working on the Yes on Prop 21 campaign in California. Proposition 21 aims to urgently address the state’s housing affordability crisis by setting limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases and reining in corporate landlord greed. Battling many of the largest corporate landlords in California and the U.S., the Yes on Prop 21 team is undertaking the ultimate underdog campaign.