[OPINION] The little people make a ‘Newspaper of the Year’

By Phil Riske

Managing Editor, Rose Law Group Reporter

A few weeks after being fired by a weekly political newspaper in 2009, I went to work for Rose Law Group Reporter. Today, I commend several of my former colleagues at Arizona Capitol Times — a 2012 “Newspaper of the Year” as selected Friday by the Arizona Newspapers Association (AzNA).

You’re probably familiar with the fact newspapers have seen a steep decline in advertising revenue, and among the results have been newsroom layoffs, low salaries and a noticeable decline in investigative reporting. We’ve been left with “corporate newsrooms,” hardly the goal of what journalism pioneers sought.

This is why three little people at Arizona Capitol Times deserve a bouquet of orchids.

Luige Del Puerto

In 2008, a young reporter who left the Philippines to come to America, where he could make more money to support his mom and wife, applied for a job with Cap Times. Then-managing editor Karen Fullenwider and I interviewed Luige and felt he had the drive and the smarts to benefit the newspaper. There was corporate hesitation based on to Luige’s nationality, but Karen and I won out.

Jim Small

Helping make his employer a Newspaper of the Year, Luige grabbed first and second places for stories on “Stealth Spending” and “Birth Controlled,” plus another five awards.

Jim Small

For many sessions, Jim Small covered the Arizona House of Representatives. During a timeof turnovers at the newspaper, Jim served as managing editor, editor of the Yellow Sheet Report, and author of the Legislative Report — enough responsibility to kill a lesser journalist. Jim stabilized the newspaper, which was in a stage of uncertainty. Jim continues to appear on “Journalists Roundtable” on KAET and other TV coverage of state government.

Christian Palmer

Christian Palmer

Christian Palmer perhaps was most constrained by a corporate newsroom. It limited his investigative and editorial instincts. Despite that, Christian won an AzNA first place for an analytical piece on recall politics and shared the Freedom of Information Act award. Noticing his talent, the Goldwater Institute recently hired Christian, and last week he broke an in-depth investigative piece on the Arizona Students Association.

Other awards

We also salute Maricopa Monitor’s Brian Wright for his story, “Mormons in Politics,” Mike Sunnucks of Phoenix Business Journal for coverage of the Phoenix Coyotes, and David Wallace, The Arizona Republic, for “Solar on the Navajo Nation.”





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September 2012