We’ve done a lot in 2 years. We have a lot more left to do.




Photo by Omer Wazir | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Bright and early on Sept. 25, 2018, we flipped the switch and Arizona Mirror went from a once-in-a-lifetime dream to a reality. All of our launch stories went live and we sent out a newsletter to about 250 people who had signed up for our promise of independent journalism aimed at demystifying Arizona’s government, telling stories that weren’t being told anywhere else and amplifying the voices that our media has for so long ignored. 

When my entire team took the leap of faith to leave jobs at legacy media giants in order to launch an outlet that we hoped would fill in the gaps created by two decades of corporate media contraction, we all expected that there would be an appetite for new and independent coverage of our community.

What we didn’t expect was just how deep that desire for what we proposed actually was. That newsletter that initially went to 250 people now goes to more than 12,000 people every day. About 40,000 people visited AZMirror.com in our first month; more than 4 times that amount have done so already this month. Already, more than 2.1 million people have seen our stories this year.

On the day we launched, I wrote about the importance of what we hoped to accomplish. Two years later, it rings just as true:

At no point in our nation’s history has an independent and free press been unimportant, but the necessity of the Fourth Estate has perhaps never been more starkly apparent at any point in the post-Nixon world. In this critical time brimming with fake news and alternative facts, where the truth is seemingly up for debate and in which the most powerful man in the world attacks the free press as “the enemy of the people,” journalistic pursuits are essential…

We live in an age in which every official action the Arizona Legislature takes is broadcast live on the internet for anyone and everyone to see, and yet, thanks to the never-ending profits-over-product inertia that exists in the state’s corporate media entities, there are fewer eyeballs than ever on the moments that truly determine what happens in the public policy arena — moments that rarely happen in … a committee, but instead happen in a quiet conversation in a hallway or a lunch on the Capitol lawn or a dinner at a nearby restaurant. A larger media contingent means more prying questions, more independent observers and more risk for both the government official and the corporate entity seeking to sway public policy.

The last six months have shown us that our mission of reporting on Arizona government and politics so citizens could make informed decisions is more important than ever.

In these uncertain times, we’ve been here for you. We’re reporting from the front lines of the fight for racial justice and police reform. We’re reporting on COVID-19 — nearly 300 stories to date — and have written about the critical data on cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and racial disparities of the pandemic. And we’re covering COVID-19’s many consequences — from unemployment and evictions to education and elections.   

As always, we’ll report with an eye toward the humanity of our sources, a commitment to public accountability — and a consideration of the inequities in our great state that the pandemic has laid bare.

I’m reminded every day that the Mirror is something special. Local journalism continues to be eroded by corporate greed and advertising-based business models that just aren’t as profitable as they used to be — and make no mistake that less local news feeds misinformation in our communities. I remain convinced that news is a public good, and that the nonprofit model truly allows for the community to invest in itself. We are all Arizonans, and we produce journalism to make Arizona better. 

So, what’s next? We’re going to continue to explore how the government affects you, your neighbors and this state’s diverse communities. We’re going to report on the Capitol by leaving the Capitol and actually hearing about the concerns of Arizonans. 

Most importantly, we want to center our reporting on the people affected — helped, hurt or otherwise — by the decisions made by leaders in Arizona, not on platitudes or political theories.

News is a vital community service, and we are supported by the generosity of those who believe an informed Arizona is a better Arizona. We have no paywalls, no subscription fees.

We also want to expand what we cover. We want journalists across the state, as well as journalists focused on under-covered topics and communities — now all we have to do is secure the resources to make that happen.

That’s where you come in. As an independent nonprofit news organization, we depend on readers to support our work. Unlike the corporate media behemoths who send the money they receive from Arizonans to an East Coast headquarters so it can be used to increase the dividends paid to shareholders, every dollar of support we get goes directly into improving the Mirror.

Quality, trusted journalism is vital for a healthy democracy. Our journalists write the stories that keep you informed and make our community a better place.

Jim Small
Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.