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From the editor

NY Times publisher: Support local journalism like TucsonSentinel.com

In observing World Press Freedom Day — Sunday, May 3 — the publisher of the New York Times is urging people to donate and subscribe to local news organizations in their communities — including TucsonSentinel.com.

"Local journalism is in crisis and at risk of disappearing," the Times said. "These vital resources are critical to the safety, security and knowledge of our communities, never more so than in these difficult times. On World Press Freedom Day and every day, we encourage you to find a local news organization you trust and support it."

The Times created a database of trusted local news outlets, vetted by organizations like Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) — a group I served as the founding national chairman — and the Institute for Nonprofit News, to which the Sentinel belongs. That resource was published Friday, with the announcement that "News organizations near you are at risk. Support them today."

You can do just that right here:

Subscribe and stretch your donation over time:

$10/mo. Cub Reporter
$15/mo. Printer's Devil
$20/mo. Stringer
$40/mo. Correspondent
$50/mo. Senior Correspondent
Enter your own monthly amount (number only)

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

$5,000 Newshound
$2,500 Trusted Source
$1,000 Copy Desk Chief
$500 Correspondent
$250 Stringer
$100 Printer's Devil
$50 Cub reporter
$25 Informed Source
$10 Dear Reader
Enter your own amount (below)

"I wanted to reach out to you to say how much we appreciate the important, difficult work you're doing right now," Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger wrote in a letter to local news publishers sent Friday. "My colleagues and I stand with you in your commitment to providing information that is critical to the safety, security, and knowledge of our communities. As the coronavirus pandemic presents unprecedented reporting challenges and growing financial pressures, it's also underscored the value of great journalism."

Calling World Press Freedom Day a "a day dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of an independent press," Sulzberger wrote that the Times is launching "a campaign encouraging readers find a local news organization they trust, and to support it through a subscription or donation."

The Times database includes hundreds of nonprofit news organizations like TucsonSentinel.com, as well as hundreds of entrepreneurial independent news outlets like ours.

Like what you're reading? Support high-quality local journalism and help underwrite independent news without the spin.

"Like many of my colleagues at The Times, I spent years working in local news," Sulzberger wrote. "We know firsthand the essential role original, quality news organizations play in communities across the nation. And we've been distressed to watch as the pressure on local news continues to rise through the pandemic, leading to an estimated 36,000 journalists being laid off or furloughed in a matter of months. We hope we can help by raising awareness of the importance of supporting local news organizations.... Thanks for all you do."

"I'm so thrilled that the Times has decided to spotlight our members," said Chris Krewson, LION's executive director, in an interview with Poynter.

"This is a wonderful gesture by the New York Times in support of local news," Sue Cross, executive director of INN, told Poynter. "We hope it helps national news readers connect with local journalists. And it's a great reminder on World Press Freedom Day that it is local journalists who connect us to our communities, as well as to the world."

Last month, TucsonSentinel.com was among 400 local news organizations across the United States to be awarded special grants for reporting on the coronavirus outbreak by Facebook.

The social media giant awarded $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 two months, 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 our reporters 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.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors for their support of local independent reporting. Join Heidi Harley , Jennalyn Tellman, and Sandra Whitehouse and contribute today!

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!

Subscribe and stretch your donation over time:

$10/mo. Cub Reporter
$15/mo. Printer's Devil
$20/mo. Stringer
$40/mo. Correspondent
$50/mo. Senior Correspondent
Enter your own monthly amount (number only)

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

$5,000 Newshound
$2,500 Trusted Source
$1,000 Copy Desk Chief
$500 Correspondent
$250 Stringer
$100 Printer's Devil
$50 Cub reporter
$25 Informed Source
$10 Dear Reader
Enter your own amount (below)

Among the many Tucsonans who recently decided to invest in making Tucson a smarter place by supporting TucsonSentinel.com are Jeanne Pickering, Tamara Prime, Leslie Tolbert, Tony Davis, David Schaller, Andrew Laurenzi, 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, Gretchen Wagenseller, Thomas Rapine, Michael Harwin, Robin Blackwood, Judith Wood, Terry Filipowicz, Linus Kafka, Diane Shifflett, Kristina Lewis, Carolyn Leigh, Richard Kaiser, Vasanta Weiss, Frank Sotomayor, 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.

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 more than 4,600 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.

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.

Thank you so much. Be well.

Dylan Smith

Editor & Publisher, TucsonSentinel.com

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

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have your say   

1 comment on this story

1
24 comments
May 4, 2020, 2:19 pm
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I’m sorry, but I disagree with the way this was received.  An endorsement by The New York Times is “the kiss of death” in American Journalism.  It is right up there with an endorsement by CNN in network broadcasting.  This greatly increases my reluctance to contribute; so, MonksCave signing-out…..for now, if you are Lucky !

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