American Journalism Review Features Arizona Guardian, Local News Site, in Statehouse Article


Far fewer reporters are covering their state capitols, but at least Arizona has the Guardian.

That seems to be one of the themes in an article by the American Journalism Review about statehouse coverage by the news media. A survey by the renowned publication shows far fewer traditional reporters covering their state capitols, but that all-online alternatives like the Arizona Guardian are springing up to fill the gaps.

Patti Epler, (image from AJR article above), one of five Guardian staffers, is portrayed prominently in a photo that helps illustrate the piece. Epler previously worked for the East Valley Tribune as city editor before being booted along with nearly half the newspaper's staff in January's mega-layoff. The AJR picked a good time to profile Epler and the Guardian: She was part of a team that brought home a Pulitzer Prize for the Tribune, as was Guardian reporter Paul Giblin.

The article does a good job of explaining the importance to society of robust news coverage of statehouse issues, but can't answer the ultimate question: Will the Guardian or its online brethren ever make enough money to support a stable of reporters and editors?

In the article, Epler states that the staff is working hard, often putting in overtime. But in recent interviews about the Pulitzer win, Epler admits "we're not making any money..." (Epler tells New Times the Guardian staffers are, in fact, making a little money).

We figured they'd make it this far -- the Tribune's generous severance packages helped the Guardian staffers through the recent months. The fact that the Legislature has been in session for the start-up hasn't hurt, either. The Guardian is subsidized by Bob Grossfeld, a local political consultant, and also charges for subscriptions.

If the Guardian can make it through the summer, it just might be around for the next AJR statehouse survey.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.