Heat City has become recognized as an independent and award-winning source for news from Phoenix since it launched at the beginning of 2009. That’s happened because of the strong and continued support from its readers. Thank you. Let’s keep it going.
Archive for the ‘Hidden’ Category
Over the past several weeks, a number of you have asked about being able to donate to Heat City. Well, today you get your wish. (Happy holidays and thanks in advance.)
It has been almost a year since this website was launched. In that time, readers have given generously to help pay for the cost of the original reporting. Quality journalism costs money, and in 2009, a few dozen readers have given an average of about $20 each to allow that to continue.
The year has been a pretty good one, too. Your generosity helped Heat City cover the gavel-to-gavel in the trials of Serial Shooter Dale Hausner and his accomplice, Sam Dieteman. You helped reveal a criminal investigation into Gilbert’s then-Mayor Steve Berman. You helped break news that two white supremacists had been arrested on suspicion of bombing Scottsdale government offices in 2004. You helped Heat City be the first to report that a California company wanted to close the Pulitzer Prize-winning East Valley Tribune, and then later that the same company had been giving its executives millions of dollars in bonuses in the process. And you helped me cover ongoing legal problems that some believe threaten the basic rule of law in Maricopa County.
Today, I’m happy to unveil an idea I’ve been brainstorming for the past couple months. It’s called Beta Journalism, and I’m hoping it becomes a new way of thinking about one of the most-basic forms of media: the written story.
The idea is simple. It’s based on something technology innovators have been doing for about 40 years, ever since engineers at IBM came up with the concept back in the 1960s.
Image by Darren Hester. Used under a Creative Commons license.
If you’re regular visitor to Heat City, you’ve undoubtedly seen an upswing over the past few weeks in the number of stories being posted here.
Back on June 25, the site was the first in the nation to break the news that two white supremacists — one with ties to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh — were arrested in Illinois on suspicion of sending a mail bomb to Scottsdale’s diversity office in 2004.
The frantic call came into 911. “My baby, she’s choked!”
Sol Xochitl, the ex-lover of boxing legend Mike Tyson, had just found their 4-year-old daughter hanging by the neck from an electrical wire inside her central Phoenix home. As Xochitl begged for emergency crews to hurry to the house, she could be heard counting out CPR pumps on little Exodus Tyson’s lifeless chest. “One, two, three, four…”
Her efforts ultimately could not revive the girl. Exodus was pronounced dead a little more than 24 hours later at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
Now, the drama of those few panicked moments Monday has emerged through police statements and a transcript of the call Xochitl made to 911. They show the young mom remained focused on trying to save her daughter as the girl quickly expired.
It has been an exciting past week here at Heat City. Serial Shooter suspect Dale Hausner has been on the witness stand for five days, and takes it again for his sixth and final day today. That means his eight-count murder trial is nearing its end. The trial has been the centerpiece of this blog since it launched it back on Jan. 5, and I’ve been able to continue covering it live from the courtroom because of reader support, both financial and moral.
As it stands today, readers have donated $475 to help me continue original reporting you generally won’t find anywhere else. That’s a little over $100 a week since I began taking donations. Along with your gifts, many of you have said you like stories about local media happenings, so I’ve been trying to post more of them.
Lastly, the work that you’ve supported has been getting some attention from media watchers. A crew from the local PBS affiliate, KAET-TV (Channel 8), came out to the Maricopa County courthouse last week and interviewed me for a segment titled “Future of Journalism” on their nightly news magazine , Horizon. The crew also talked to the folks at the online Capitol news startup, the Arizona Guardian, as well as a journalism professor at Arizona State University. The segment airs tonight at 7 p.m.
I continue to be flattered and surprised by the generous support from readers of this site. This week, less than two weeks into accepting donations, your contributions surpassed my startup costs for HEAT CITY. I originally spent $289.75 to buy a domain name, get a year of hosting, pay for a little card that lets me access the Internet from anywhere, and park for one week near the downtown Phoenix courthouse where Dale Hausner is on trial.
Well, this week, a few generous donations brought the total giving to $300, essentially reimbursing me for those costs. So I owe you all a big thanks. This website has been a labor of love from the beginning. Readers deserve quality information and news, and I’m trying to deliver it, hopefully with some success.
I wouldn’t be able to do it without reader support. Even if you can’t give a dollar or two, your e-mails, links, comments and story tips help immensely.
The kind folks over at ABC 15 are having me back again tomorrow morning for their show, Daybreak, to talk about the Serial Shooter trial. Samuel Dieteman, the alleged accomplice in the killing spree, wrapped up his final day of testimony today against his former roommate, Dale Hausner, the Mesa man accused of inciting the violence.
I’m not sure yet what I’ll be talking about, but it will probably include some of the final statements he made this morning while answering questions from the jury. Tune in to KNXV-TV (Channel 15) at about 6:45 a.m. to watch. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a surprise tidbit for you. I’ll try to think of one.
After I spent days running into a roadblocks with the comment system built into Movable Type, a friend of mine suggested I use Disqus to power the discussion on HEAT CITY. It was good advice. The service was easy to install, allowed readers to create profiles and will hopefully lead to solid, substantive discussions on the site.
Use the space to talk about the subjects, add to the stories and correct my mistakes. I want to hear from you, and others do, too. I won’t make any rules, really, but use your common sense. Look at it this way: The HEAT CITY community helped me find the tool to power the discussion, and hopefully the same community will put it to use.
It has been just four days since I launched HEAT CITY, and already the response has been overwhelming. Many of you have sent e-mails, tweets and Facebook messages with your well wishes. Some of you have offered your support in other ways, like passing along story tips and leads. The ABC affiliate in Phoenix, KNXV-TV (Channel 15) is bringing me on its Daybreak show tomorrow morning for the third-straight day to talk about the Serial Shooter trial, which represents the main thrust of my coverage so far.
Early this morning, shortly after wrapping up things on television and before heading to the trial, I added a little button to the right-hand column of the site. It asks you to help support my work in another way: financially.
The idea behind it is that quality, in-depth reporting takes time and money. The broadband card I use to access the internet in the courtroom, for instance, costs $40 a month. Government agencies in Arizona charge as much as 50 cents a page for public records. And sometimes, you just have to buy a source lunch to get the inside track on a big story. (Some of the biggest stories of my career have been spilled over burgers or beers.)