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From the editor

Sentinel awarded COVID-19 journalism grant by Facebook

TucsonSentinel.com is among 400 local news organizations across the United States to be awarded special grants for reporting on the coronavirus outbreak, Facebook announced Tuesday.

The social media giant is awarding $5,000 to Tucson's independent nonprofit news outlet "to cover unexpected costs associated with reporting on the crisis."

That's very welcome support, and it'll help us keep doing what our newsroom team has been doing 12-16 or more hours daily for the past six weeks — bring Tucson the latest in solid, factual, useful information about COVID-19, and its impact on our community.

But it's not enough, frankly. There are more stories out there not being reported — not told well enough, not reported with context and discernment. And with so many of our local small business sponsors pressured, the local revenues that our nonprofit newsroom depends on are flagging. Some of our sponsors have had to close, others have dialed back their business (and thus their sponsorship/marketing dollars).

We've had dozens of new individual donors — ordinary Tucsonans concerned about their community and our shrinking sources of information — sign up to contribute monthly over the past month, and dozens more give generous one-time gifts. We're very grateful for that, more than we can even say.

That's allowed us to, thus far, maintain our newsroom. Unlike massive hedge-fund-controlled newspaper chains, we're not cutting pay or forcing journalists to take unpaid time off. But we do need your help, dear reader.

If just 10 percent of those who depend on us to fill in the holes on important stories like this viral outbreak would sign up to support us, we could bring on another reporter. If 20 percent of you did so, we could put two journalists to work digging into stories that we all need to know.

And despite the outside grants we receive from Facebook and groups like the Fund for Investigative Journalism, we ultimately depend on the support of this community to help us do our work.

You've sustained us for a decade. Now that real reporting is needed as it's never been needed before, please invest in an informed community and donate to us today.

Join the Watchdog Club!

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Or give a secure one-time gift with PayPal or your credit card:

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Among the many Tucsonans who recently decided to invest in making Tucson a smarter place by supporting TucsonSentinel.com are Jeanne Pickering, Tamara Prime, Tony Davis, David Schaller, Arthur Evans, Julie McGee, Nancy Bailey, Laura Cirrincione, Rosemary Hooper, Meghan Donegan, Michael Caccamise, Elizabeth Cherry, William Schmidt, Tom Collier, Tim Hagyard, Michele Manos, Richard Underwood, Derek Rickard, Lori Kindler, Kristi Chapman, Krisanne LoGalbo, Karen Pollins, Thomas Rapine, Robin Blackwood, Judith Wood, Terry Filipowicz, Linus Kafka,  Diane Shifflett, Kristina Lewis, Carolyn Leigh, Richard Kaiser, Rui Wang, Raquel Baranow, Camilla Strausfeld, Rachel Cheeseman, Madeleine Wachter, Bernadette Ruiz, Pamela Parry, John Laitner and so many more. Please join with them in supporting Tucson's only locally run nonprofit independent news organization.

The Facebook Journalism Project announced the entire round of "Community Network" grant recipients Tuesday, including five other Arizona news outlets: the Casa Grande Dispatch, Sierra Vista Herald/Review, Lake Powell Chronicle, Today's News-Herald (Lake Havasu City), and the Yuma Sun.

The grantees were selected by Facebook, the Local Media Association, and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

We're honored to be chosen. TucsonSentinel.com has built a national reputation for fearless, hard-hitting investigative reporting and solid breaking news.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we quickly began tracking data on a daily basis. Last month, we set up the Tucson Coronavirus Updates group on Facebook to facilitate a community conversation — it now has about 4,300 members.

We broke the national story that the military is calling on retired medics to return to fight the coronavirus outbreak. We were the first to report that Arizona's state prison system is clearing out a storage building to use as a COVID-19 ward. We spent a week digging into why testing was so delayed here. And we've shared the stories of ordinary Tucson residents as they live through the outbreak.

Senior reporter Paul Ingram and I joined the CovidTracking.com team, an independent group of professional journalists and data experts who banded together at the beginning of March to track COVID-19 testing and track cases across the country. That project has been cited by government and journalism sources as an invaluable resource.

We've provided an constant stream of updates about the latest local and state government responses, with hundreds of reports on the coronavirus outbreak in Arizona, dating back to January.

Support TucsonSentinel.com today, because a smarter Tucson is a better Tucson!

And we're dedicated to keeping our work going, with your help.

An alert watchdog

Journalism is a vital public service in a democracy. Investigative reporting uncovers injustice, exposes corruption and holds officials accountable. Community reporting celebrates the unique nature of Tucson's people, reflecting our sense of place through a knowing lens.

We aim to provide both: to point out the things we all love about Southern Arizona, and point to possible solutions for what needs changing. We believe that just as an unexamined life is not worth living, an unexamined city is not worth living in. A smarter Tucson is a better Tucson.

But insightful reporting doesn't come free. Make your donation today as a member of the TucsonSentinel.com WATCHDOG CLUB — you may make a one-time contribution, or sign up for a monthly subscription that supports nonpartisan reporting year-round.

And just one more thing: Do us a huge favor and help spread the word about TucsonSentinel.com by telling your friends and family about us, and why you believe truly independent local news is so vital. Please share this now.

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