Thornton: Independent Newsmedia pursues public record initiative

There are some truths that continue to be self-evident and in the 21st Century there is one I hold dear: Journalism is the practice of publishing the things oftentimes those in power would not like to have published.

Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton (File photo)

And, everything else ought to be considered public relations.

The age of the attractive truth is over — what is emerging is an unbridled passion for understanding what exactly the truth is and oftentimes that is both a contentious and glorious proposition.

But the pursuit of the truth — just like the pursuit of happiness — doesn’t have to be a malicious proposition, it can also be a way for publishers, journalists and editors to explain the world to their respective readership.

It is this guiding principal that is fueling one of our reporting initiatives here at Independent Newsmedia where throughout the Valley we are seeking to do 52 public record requests to generate unique stories for our readers.

That’s right, we are trying to accomplish 52 original pieces of journalism focused solely on public records, which I believe can offer an unparalleled understanding of the ins and outs of Arizona government and those who fuel it.

It’s a difficult, stressful and sometimes a battle to get the records but it matters that much to us here because we believe most of the good things we do with our lives is not easy. It’s difficult.

What you may not know is beyond our Scottsdale Independent newspaper, Independent Newsmedia also publishes the Daily News-Sun, five weekly newspapers, five monthlies, one magazine and five community websites, including Your-Valley.net, throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The company also owns and operates a commercial printing plant — Valley Newspapers — at 23043 N. 16th Lane in Phoenix.

We believe in the public’s “right to know” and that faith fuels many of our internal operations. Through the use of our newsroom guidelines we will continue to be the watchdog for our communities.

We believe most citizens don’t have the time to personally observe their public officials at work, or to determine how well public institutions are carrying out their public mission. We can help by including previews of upcoming meetings, meeting agendas, and — following meetings — how elected representatives voted.

As my duty as Arizona managing editor, we are spearheading a public records initiative spanning corner to corner of the Valley.

We’re pulling records and explaining the world to our readers in the communities we serve — Apache Junction/ Gold Canyon, Glendale, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Scottsdale, the Sun Cities, Surprise and the Town of Paradise Valley.

We pledge to operate each of our newspapers as a public trust. We believe journalists are the guardians of every citizen’s constitutional right to a free press. Therefore, we have no authority to compromise, bargain away, or dishonor the principles underlying the First Amendment.

And, much of the tenets of the First Amendment speak to saying — and reporting things — some would believe are better left unsaid.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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