The 2016 edition of New Times' Best of Phoenix is out now, making an argument for our status as a border town. Here's our list of the best media in our midst.
Best Local to Follow on Snapchat: New Darlings
While you can follow along with their adventures in the desert and abroad on a variety of social-media platforms, Robert and Christina Martinez really shine on Snapchat. Better known as New Darlings, the blogger couple documents trips to their favorite haunts (you're gonna notice a fair amount of Lux), gym angst, home-decor decisions, and the newest records they've picked up — all adorned with stickers and emojis and geofilters that make snapping more fun than, well, basically any other mode of social sharing.
Best Podcast: Spillers After Show
Brian Dunn and Robert Hoekman Jr. launched the short-fiction reading series Spillers at the Crescent Ballroom in August 2015, and since then have continued to refine the series through live readings and an insightful podcast, the Spillers After Show. Featuring readings from and long-form interviews with Spillers readers like essayist Tara Ison, novelist Patrick Michael Finn, Spilled Milk editor Leah Newsom, and poet Joel Salcido, the series features discussions and dissections of the creative process, with Dunn and Hoekman offering probing questions and thoughtful responses that bring the intimacy of the live shows to your iPhone.
Best Selfie: ASU Sorority Girls at Chase Field
After Arizona Diamondbacks commentators Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly asked the crowd at a game last October to take selfies and post them to Twitter, the two could not stop laughing about a group of Arizona State University Alpha Chi Omega sorority sisters heeding their request. Critics of the two men accused them of sexism. But the girls didn't seem to mind, posing for a group selfie that was tweeted out by the official D-backs Twitter account later that night.
Best Border Reporting: KJZZ's Fronteras Desk
Also known as the Changing America Desk, the Fronteras Desk is a collection of four public-radio stations — including Phoenix's KJZZ 91.5 FM — reporting on immigration, Native American, economic, and environmental news in the Southwest, reaching from Southern California to central Texas, i.e., the border of the United States and Mexico. This multimedia collaboration started in 2010 as a joint project between KBPS San Diego and KJZZ Phoenix. Listen up. You might learn something.
Best TV Newscaster: Brahm Resnik
Go to any political event, protest, or important public meeting, and there's 12 News reporter and anchor Brahm Resnik holding a microphone, ready to talk about the situation at hand. To us, Resnik's talent as a reporter goes much deeper than his ability to cover a wide variety of topics and break news — we think it actually stems from his determination to hold local politicians and government agencies accountable.
Best News Radio Station: KJZZ (91.5 FM)
Sure, KJZZ is home to fantastic syndicated programs from NPR — we're big fans of Jesse Thorn's weekly pop-culture talk show, Bullseye, and the Moth Radio Hour — but the station really makes its bones as Phoenix's go-to audio news source. In order to bring us thoughtful reporting and insightful commentary, the station's reporters dig into economic trends, cutting-edge ASU research, and of course, our always-turbulent political frays.
Best Local to Follow on Instagram: @donjay
Thousands of worthy Instagrammers out there document the amazing desert landscape we have in Arizona. Between the fascinating plant life that manages to thrive in our harsh environment and the breathtaking sunsets that make the sweltering summer heat worth it, there's plenty of beauty to capture. But Donjay, who aptly posts under the Instagram handle @donjay, shows the wonder of the desert and this city that has grown within it through his own eye, and we can't look away.
Best Multimedia Journalist: Pita Juarez
As a Phoenix-based multimedia journalist, Pita Juarez has covered a range of social issues that concern the local Latino community. She is a regular contributor for both Spanish- and English-language publications across the Valley and has worked with grassroots radio stations like Radio Phoenix and KWSS as a host. Regardless of the medium, Juarez has consistently produced content that engages a wide-ranging audience to bring to light issues important to the immigrant community.
Best Conservative Blog: Shane Wikfors' Sonoran Alliance
Gone are the days when Republican political operative Shane Wikfors' Sonoran Alliance blog was the center of ex-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' world, spewing endless streams of pro-Thomas screeds written by anonymous writers many believed to be Thomas' henchmen. Wikfors himself is a gentleman of the highest order, and unlike many of his peers, can talk to Democrats and journalists without foaming at the mouth. In other words, he's one of the potty-trained Republicans, and despite this, his site remains a must-read for local political junkies, providing a mix of news, opinion, and press releases.
Best Liberal Blog: Donna Gratehouse's Democratic Diva
Local lefty firebrand Donna Gratehouse is an unrepentant Democrat and feminist in a state dominated by Republicans hellbent on doing everything they can to restrict women's reproductive rights as well as pissing on the poor every chance they get. No wonder Gratehouse is ticked off all the time. And she takes all of that righteous anger, wads it up, pours gasoline on it, sets it afire, and sends it hurling like a flaming bocce ball into the Republican night. Rock on, Gratehouse. Rock on.
Best Blog About Phoenix By Someone Who Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Jon Talton’s Rogue Columnist
Former Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton now lives in Washington state and writes about economics for the Seattle Times, but the Grand Canyon State remains very much on his mind. His David Mapstone mysteries are set in Arizona, and he maintains a regular blog on all things Phoenix, entitled Rogue Columnist, wherein he opines on everything from Phoenix's lost (or about-to-be-lost) architectural gems to the unsolved and unresolved Don Bolles case to the Republican's misplaced faith in tax cuts, and so on. We hope Talton never grows tired of writing about Arizona, because we know we'll never grow tired of reading him.
Best "Lost in America" Blog: Tom and Judy Nichols' New American Nomads
Tom and Judy Nichols know a thing or two about writing, and they certainly know the road — their journalism careers have taken them many places. So when they announced that they'd quit their jobs, sold most of their earthly possessions, purchased a Roadtrek (lovingly nicknamed The Epic Van), and were blowing this Popsicle stand, we considered stowing away. Then we heard they planned to document the trip, so we decided to stay home and follow along from afar. We have not been disappointed.
Best Arizona Travel Blog: Peter Corbett's On the Road Arizona
Peter Corbett has been hitting the Arizona trails forever — both by foot and on wheels — and has compiled a wonderful guide to places far and wide, but all within the Grand Canyon State's boundaries. We come for the pictures and stay for the stories. You will, too.
Best Citizen Journalism: Leonard Clark
In the age of cellphone cameras, you should probably always assume that if you say something offensive, even in private, it will come back to bite you. Such was the case when a video surfaced showing Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski making homophobic and anti-LGBT remarks despite having publicly stated he supported same-sex marriage and equality in the past. It remains unclear who filmed the speech, but it was sent to local activist Leonard Clark, who posted it to YouTube (see video clip above). Within hours, the local LGBT community called for Nowakowski's resignation, and the mayor and other public officials condemned his remarks.
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