Attorneys Needed for Student Press Info Center

Are you an attorney interested in protecting student press freedoms? Our SPJ chapter is helping form a coalition to provide information and resources (but not direct legal representation) to student journalists, advisers and news organizations.

If you are interested in being part of a “resource outlet” for information on what the law says, please contact us. We expect this informational base could be a highly useful source of support for those in student news organizations.

If you’re an attorney who is interested – or can recommend someone to us – contact Chapter President Tim Eigo at

SAVE THE DATE: Book Signings

The House of Broadcasting (HOBI) invites members of the media to join them at Changing Hands-Phoenix, 300 W. Camelback Road, as they host a book signing 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, for “Images of America: Phoenix Television” ($21.99, Arcadia Publishing), written by John Craft and Lisa Honebrink.

Craft is a member of the faculty at the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Honebrink has been a radio producer and spent time as a public information officer for the city of Phoenix, including a stint in the mayor’s office. She continues to work in Public Relations.

Craft and Honebrink said they wanted to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at past and present on-air personalities, programs and other significant moments that have shaped society and, specifically, the lifestyles of Phoenicians since TV burst onto the scene here in the late 1940s.

To view a short segment Craft and Honebrink had on KAZ-TV with Pat McMahon to talk about the book, click the link below:

Then on Tuesday, May 21, come back to Changing Hands in Phoenix for the much-anticipated launch of Jana Bommersbach’s latest true-crime book, “A Stolen Life: The Debra Milke Story” ($20, paperback). Her presentation begins at 7 p.m.

Arizona said Debra Milke was a baby killer. Phoenix Homicide Detective Armando Saldate testified she “confessed” to having her 4-year-old son killed when he though he was going to see Santa. On his word alone, she was convicted in 1990 and became the only woman on Arizona’s death row. So how did she go free in 2015—only the second woman in American history to walk off death row? How did both a federal court and Arizona’s Court of Appeals lambast Arizona for imprisoning her in the first place—the state court saying it was “ashamed” of what happened to her, seeing it as “a severe stain on the Arizona justice system.”

This non-fiction, investigative book probes deep inside this fascinating criminal case … inside the prison, inside the evidence, inside the breakdown of justice, inside the legal tenacity, inside the heart and mind of Debra Milke. To pre-order your book, click here.

Jana Bommersbach is one of Arizona’s most acclaimed journalists, authors and public speakers. This is her seventh book.

Reception to honor STAR Award Winners


Caitlin Schmidt

Members of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona (FACAZ) have chosen Caitlin Schmidt, with The Arizona Daily Star, and Craig Harris, with the Arizona Republic as the 2018 STAR Award winners. Caitlin and Craig are being honored for their efforts to protect the principles of the First Amendment and further the public’s right to know about government actions through their tenacious journalism.

A reception in their honor will take place 5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 in the First Amendment Forum at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave. Metered street parking available.

Caitlin’s work portfolio is remarkable in southern Arizona. She has uncovered corruption within the Tucson Police Department and Pima County Sheriff’s Department, and wrote dozens of stories about law enforcement officers accused of serious misconduct. In late 2017, Caitlin shifted her efforts to focus on several allegations of sexual and domestic abuse involving University of Arizona athletes and coaches. Caitlin has won a dozen awards for investigative and government reporting during her four years at the Arizona Daily Star.


Craig Harris

Craig’s work in covering the Ducey administration and charter schools is without equal. While most state employees received meager or no raises, Craig exposed large raises handed out to Gov. Ducey’s inner circle last year. His work on charter schools showed how some charter owners are making a fortune, while the public school system deals with chronic underfunding. Craig has won multiple journalism awards, including the Polk, IRE and SPJ awards, as well as being a finalist for the Pulitzer.

During the reception, the two award winners will discuss their approaches to reporting and techniques they use to cover government. Free appetizers and drinks will precede the awards presentation. The event should wrap up by 6:30, with drinks at Chambers on First Street to follow (705 N. 1st St., #100).

Casey returns to the news

Veteran Arizona journalist Mark Casey in September was named news director at ABC15 Arizona.

Maricopa County Sheriff Office Portraits. Mandatory Credit :(ALLAN HENRY/MCSO.ORG)

Mark Casey

Following a nationwide search for the position, the local media company identified the ideal candidate close to home. Casey served as News Director in Phoenix at KPNX from 1999 to 2012 before being promoted to vice president and station manager, a position he held until 2016. Most recently, Casey served as director of public information at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

“Mark is a proven leader with deep ties to our community,” said ABC15 Arizona vice-president and general manager Anita Helt. “Mark’s vision and commitment to serving the people of Arizona with the highest level of journalistic integrity on all platforms make him the perfect choice to lead our talented team.”

“Our communities are challenging us to deliver impactful reporting that both helps them understand a complex world and holds our public institutions and ourselves to the highest standards,” said Casey. “I’m excited to join the exceptional team of journalists at ABC15 who are committed to following the facts, reporting the truth and making Arizona a great place to live, work and play.”

Casey’s journalism career spans more than 40 years. Before coming to Phoenix, he worked as a reporter, photojournalist, producer, editor, executive producer and news director in New York, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. He and his newsrooms have received numerous local and national journalism awards, including the duPont-Columbia Award for Investigative Reporting and Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Casey was awarded The Phil Alvidrez Award for Excellence in Journalism by the Valley of the Sun chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The award honors an Arizona journalist who has demonstrated a continuous commitment over time to high standards of ethical professional conduct and a spirited defense of the First Amendment.

Casey has a long history of civic service in Arizona, currently serving on the board of the Association of Arizona Food Banks.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He and his wife, Lynnette, have three adult children and live in Phoenix.

Laban joins Hopi tribal newspaper

RI Laban-smThe Hopi Tutuveni, the official tribal newspaper for the Hopi Tribe in Northern Arizona, has hired Romalita Rl Laban to serve as the new managing editor. She replaces Louella Nahsonhoya, who served in that role for six years. Laban started work at the twice-monthly publication on April 16. She can be reached at

The newspaper is overseen by an editorial board comprised of members Dr. Angela Gonzales, Candace Hamana and Curtis Honanie. For more information, visit

Rick Barrs joins the E.V. Tribune

Times Media Group (TMG), the fast-growing publisher of the East Valley Tribune and 16 other Valley publications, announced that Rick Barrs, a veteran Phoenix-area journalist and columnist and the winner of many editorial awards, has been appointed Managing Editor of the Tribune.

Rick-Barrs-e1505188214245-150x150Barrs comes to the Tribune after working as the Editor-In-Chief at Phoenix New Times and Los Angeles New Times, positions he held for more than 20 years. During Barrs’ tenure, the Phoenix weekly enjoyed a journalistic reputation that far surpassed its size, winning editorial awards locally and nationally.

Prior to joining New Times in 2002, Barrs worked for the Los Angeles Times, serving as the daily’s assistant metro editor and city editor for 10 years. During his decade at the Times, Barrs was a member of two news teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of breaking news.

“We’re serious about covering news at the East Valley Tribune and adding Rick Barrs to lead the Trib news team makes that statement loud and clear,” said Steve Strickbine, Times Media Group founder and president. “Rick knows the Valley, he knows how to lead a newsroom and he knows how to make good news stories great. For me, he represents exactly the leader the Tribune needs at this stage in our growth.”

Barrs, a University of Georgia graduate who attended the Michigan State University Graduate School of Journalism, said he relishes the chance to lead the Tribune. “There’s tremendous potential to grow our newspapers through stellar storytelling, the bedrock of great journalism,” Barrs said.

A digital and print media company operating in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, TMG publishes the East Valley Tribune (, the Ahwatukee Foothills News (, the West Valley View, Nearby News publications, the San Tan Sun News, the Scottsdale Airpark News, the Gilbert Sun News, the College Times, Lovin’ Life After 50, The Entertainer! Magazine, North Valley Magazine, 85086 Magazine, 85085 Magazine and the travel and information website TMG also owns and operates AZ Integrated Media, a media distribution and custom publishing company.

UA libraries provide free resources, guide to spotting ‘fake news,’ telling if news sources are reliable

From the University of Arizona School of Journalism in a March 9 post on Facebook: “Need help in spotting ‘fake news’ and judging sources? Check out this new guide put together by Mary Feeney and University of Arizona Libraries.”

The UA libraries have created an online guide to spotting fake news, or hoax news. Several reliable, helpful resources for news consumers are provided, including a helpful 3 minute, 22 second video from called “How to Spot Fake News.”

Here’s the information on the libraries’ website.



Don’t chain Arizona’s watchdogs

Like any good joke, timing is everything.

House Speaker David Gowan demonstrated peculiar timing this week.

Days after affirming that representatives can carry concealed weapons while the House does its work, he banned reporters from the House floor unless they consented to an ill-defined and arbitrary criminal background check. Gowan said his action was necessary to ensure the security of potentially armed members from people who carry pens and laptops.

So that’s the punchline? Gowan believes the pen is mightier than the sword?

No one can believe that the members of the capitol press corps pose any threat to legislators’ security. If you have any doubts, turn on KAET’s Arizona Horizon on any Friday during the session, when capitol reporters talk about the week’s news. They’re policy wonks, not gangsters.

The only “threat” capitol reporters pose is in digging up news Gowan and his cohorts prefer to keep secret: large amounts of money spent on remodeling while the state was cutting key services; a plan to install showers and a “multipurpose room” in the House basement; and, most recently, the Arizona Capitol Times’ expose of Gowan’s use of state vehicles to travel across the 1st Congressional District, where he is a candidate. He paid back $12,000 for inappropriate travel expenses.

That story was reported by Hank Stephenson, who has a minor blemish on his record for trespassing. That misdemeanor, under Gowan’s rules, would be enough to keep him from ever stepping on the House floor.

It is hard to believe this is coincidental.

For decades, reporters have had access to the House floor with absolutely no incident. They just do their job, providing the public an eye to the proceedings of their elected representatives — for good or for ill.

Reporters don’t expect to be popular. Nor should they be punished for asking tough questions. Legislators should not be able to pick and choose who writes their stories. They should not try to silence journalists by making an example of those who do stellar work. The public can’t let Gowan have the last laugh.

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Valley of the Sun chapter urges Gowan to rescind this arbitrary and unnecessary change in journalists’ access to the House floor. Reporters pose no security threat — unless truth hurts.

Amanda Ventura is president of the Valley of the Sun chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Contact her at Follow the chapter’s Twitter feed at @spjphx.

Members elect 2015-2016 Valley of the Sun SPJ officers

Amanda Ventura, associate editor at AZ Big Media in Phoenix, was elected president of

Amanda Ventura, 2015-2016 president, Valley of the Sun pro chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

Amanda Ventura, 2015-2016 president, Valley of the Sun pro chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

the Valley of the Sun chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists by fellow chapter members in elections held June 24.

Ventura, who had served the previous year as vice president, officially takes office July 1 along with three other officers.

Like Ventura, the three other officers were elected by acclamation at the chapter’s annual meeting at SunUp Brewing Co. & Brewhouse in uptown Phoenix:

  • The new vice president is Perri Collins, content producer, W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Collins is winding up three terms as chapter president.
  • Secretary Debra Krol, senior communications manager, Heard Museum, was re-elected.
  • Teri Carnicelli, editor, North Central News and a former chapter president as well as former SPJ Region 11 director, was re-elected as chapter treasurer.