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Leonard Novarro’s writing as a journalist has stirred hope, promise, and change. As an editor, his leadership produced two thought-proving, visually exciting feature sections in San Diego, California, and Memphis, Tennessee. San Diego Tribune editor Neil Morgan has said, “As a ‘Lifestyle’ section writer, he was one of our best. As an editor, he brought prizewinning performance from his staff.” That included three acclaimed series on change in the Golden State: California Dreams, Paradise Lost, and Faces of San Diego, a fourteen-part series on ethnic diversity. Faces was honored twice by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and was instrumental in earning the Tribune the National Institute of Human Relations Award by the American Jewish Committee in 1990.

Mr. Novarro joined the Tribune as a writer in 1984 and, according to Tribune Managing Editor George Dissinger, “quickly established himself as the most readable, exciting writer in the ‘Scene’ section.” He was promoted to editor two years later. While reporting for the Memphis Press-Scimitar in 1979 and 1980, he produced more than seventy stories on the environment, including abuses by the chemical industry and efforts by local and state health officials to cover up the problem. As a result, then Congressman Al Gore launched congressional hearings that led to Environmental Protection Agency-funded health studies. For his efforts, Mr. Novarro received the distinguished John J. Finney Award for Public Service as well as the UPITAN (United Press International Tennessee Association of Newspapers) award for investigative reporting.

This last series of events is covered in “WORDSLINGER: The Life and Times of a Newspaper Junkie,” written by  Mr. Novarro, which Kirkus Review called “an often gripping account of the power of reporting.” (For more on the book, go to wordslingerbook.com)

Mr. Novarro began his newspaper career with the Staten Island Advance as a police reporter and joined the Orlando Sentinel in 1973 as a bureau chief supervising twelve reporters in daily news gathering. He also wrote features and investigative pieces and served as assistant national-foreign news editor. As an assistant news editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph in 1978, he oversaw production of the morning edition. As features editor for the Memphis Press-Scimitar, he produced a daily feature section, weekly food sections, and seasonal fashion sections.

From 1984 to 1986, Mr. Novarro’s writing for the San Diego Tribune captured numerous facets of the San Diego lifestyle and ranged from detailed profiles to in-depth reporting on issues and trends that affected San Diegans. As “Scene” editor for the next six years, he supervised seventeen editors and reporters in producing a daily feature section, a weekly food section, and periodic fashion sections. Upon leaving the San Diego Tribune in 1992, Mr. Novarro embarked on a freelance career, writing for dozens of publications as diverse as Westways and Alaska Airlines magazines, Asia Inc., and the Asia Times. He also served as Reuters correspondent covering San Diego and northern Mexico.

In 2002, recognizing the emergence and rapidly growing strength of the Asian and Pacific Islander community, Mr. Novarro, with partner Rosalynn Carmen, designed and produced the first newspaper of its kind serving the Asian American community of Southern California in English. Mr. Novarro and Ms. Carmen began publishing ASIA as a community newspaper every two weeks in June 2002. In less than two years, the newspaper grew from 2,000 to 20,000 in circulation and by 2007 was producing a second edition of 40,000 copies twice a month exclusively for Los Angeles. Writing about the achievements of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans led Mr. Novarro and Ms. Carmen to create the annual Asian Heritage Awards and the Asian Heritage Society BOOSTEM educational program for high school students. Both have been honored for their public service by the San Diego Press Club and the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission.
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