Features & Profiles

L.A. influencers, businesses live or die on TikTok's algorithm. Now they fear for the future

Brandon Hurst is known as Brandon the Plant Guy on TikTok.

Brandon Hurst has built a loyal social media following and a growing business selling plants on TikTok, where a mysterious algorithm combined with the right content can let users amass thousands of followers.

Hurst, who’s based in the San Fernando Valley, sold 20,000 plants in three years while running his business on Instagram. After expanding the business he launched in 2020 to TikTok Shop, an e-commerce platform integrated into the

L.A. sees a surge of billboards for personal injury lawyers. You'll never guess why

Among the myriad side effects of the pandemic: a surge in billboards and bus ads for personal injury law firms.

They seem to have sprouted all over Los Angeles.

Morgan & Morgan’s blue-and-yellow billboards proudly declare “Size Matters,” Jacob Emrani’s ads with red cursive writing direct readers to CallJacob.com, and Pirnia Law’s silhouette designs say, “We didn’t meet by accident.” Billboards and bus ads for personal injury law firms have become a bigger part of the landscape.

Along with the

'Scammed on the worst day of my life': Pet owners say cremation service took their money, ghosted them

Robert Balog holds an image of his late cat, Stewie, in his home in Van Nuys.

On a Monday night in early March, Robert Balog and a friend made the hour-and-a-half drive from Van Nuys to Oxnard to meet an elusive man in a Best Buy parking lot.

The man, 35-year-old Anthony Nuñez Jr. of Oxnard, emerged from an old-model red Ford Ranger and handed Balog a thick black bag. Inside were the decaying remains of Balog’s beloved pet, a short-hair American tabby cat named Stewie.

Balog drove Stewie home

Iris Apfel, beloved style icon whose fame peaked in her 90s, dies at 102

Iris Apfel, the beloved fashion icon and interior designer whose eccentric style inspired individuality, creativity and joy, has died, according to a post on her official Instagram account. She was 102.

Known for her bold accessories, oversize round glasses and “totally mad” outfits, Apfel never let age slow her down. She was 84 when the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art launched an exhibition showcasing her extensive collection of garments and costume jewelry, earning her glo

An algae bloom devastated sea mammals last year. L.A. wants to improve its rescue efforts

Marine mammals are penned in as they recuperate at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro in 2023.

A nightmarish scene unfolded in the summer of 2023 across Los Angeles County beaches as hundreds of sick marine mammals washed ashore and became stranded in the sand. Beachgoers witnessed animals seizing, foaming at the mouth and dying due to a toxic algae bloom.

City leaders and residents scrambled to help as the nonprofit in San Pedro worked to rescue and rehabilitate ill seals, sea lions a

A Tampa Bay retirement community’s unwelcome guest: wild, destructive hogs

When Pete Pullen stumbled across three baby wild hogs on a patch of land near his home, he knew he had to back away immediately. The piglets were harmless, but he was sure their mother was nearby.

“If you get between a mother and her babies, you get attacked,” Pullen, 77, said. “And I can’t run as fast as I used to.”

Pullen was used to seeing wild hogs outside his home in Sun City Center, an expansive retirement community in Hillsborough County covering about eight square miles. The hogs hang

One man’s mission to curb violence in Hillsborough County

Freddy Barton held a sugar-free Red Bull in one hand and a stack of small plastic mirrors in the other. He handed the mirrors to about 20 energetic kids — some as young as 12, others as old as 17 — seated at round tables in the Carey Family Boys & Girls Club in Brandon.

“Look at yourself, take your time,” Barton said. “Fix your hair and all that.”

Backpacks and lunch boxes hung from the wall, some decorated with Disney princesses or Marvel superheroes. Shelves of hula hoops, basketballs and bo

Where are 3 missing Tampa Bay women? The answer may rest with ‘the devil.’

The families sat in lawn chairs, watching big yellow machines claw through the earth.

The summer sun bore down on the empty lot in Largo nestled between a Baptist church and the Pinellas Trail. Drivers and pedestrians stopped, curious, as about a dozen forensic investigators continued their rhythm of digging: shovel, sift, discard.

They were searching for the remains of Retha Hiers.

In the 39 years since Hiers went missing, the Berlin Wall fell, the internet was born and America elected its f