Specialized Publishing LLC, the parent company of Prescott eNews wishes our readers, contributors and advertisers a Merry Christmas filled with the peace, joy and wonder of this very special time of year.
For Prescott eNews, the past year has been one of many blessings. Since I took over as both owner and publisher in May, our readership has more than doubled. We have redesigned our website, doubled the number of daily articles, and added new features and contributors. We also have expanded our podcasting capabilities.
In January we expect to hit our goal of producing and posting to our website and social media accounts an original podcast each day focused on local news, politics, and community events. Our digital news platform remains free to the general public and accessible 24 hours a day—always free, all the time.
In anticipation of future growth, on December 1st, we acquired the Courtyard Building in downtown Prescott. This landmark building at 115 E. Goodwin Street is ideally located next to Prescott City Hall and half a block from the historic Courthouse Plaza.
This space will provide room to grow as we expand our reach into internet broadcasting and look at other media properties for future acquisition.
I recently sat down with Anita Cohen, Editor of Prescott eNews to reflect on my new role as publisher of a digital news service in Prescott and the way forward for local journalism.
Anita: Well, David, let’s start with the elephant in the room. Most people know you as a lawyer and a politician. Are you giving up politics and your law work for journalism and publishing?
David: OK. That’s a good place to start. The answer is that there is a common thread to everything I’ve tried to do — law, politics and now journalism. And that common thread is civic engagement. As a lawyer I sought justice for my clients. As an elected official I tried to influence the laws we live under in the direction of personal freedom.
And now as a publisher my goal is to provide a platform for news and commentary that reflects the conservative values of our community. I want eNews to be a truth teller that lets readers know what’s going on in the community and holds government officials accountable.
So it all knits together. I’m still a lawyer, I’m still interested in politics. I have no idea what the future holds in that regard. But my new role as a local publisher of the news is just another facet, another extension, if you will, of my civic engagement.
Anita: So, just to be clear. Are you saying you are giving up politics or not? I’ve heard people say you might use eNews to promote your political ambitions.
David: Well, whether or not I give up politics is not completely up to me. The voters have something to say about that. If you’re asking if eNews reflects my conservative political values, the answer is yes. I’m a political activist with conservative views. That’s who I am. So whatever I do is going to reflect that. But eNews and my political work are separate. Enews has never endorsed candidates. And that includes me. Free speech is foundational to political freedom. We make the platform available to everyone. We invite candidates of all persuasions for interviews and podcasts. And that includes people who disagree with me. I love the debate.
Anita: Is eNews going to be conservative or Republican? Is it going to have a political orientation?
David: Enews is going to report the news as fairly and accurately as humanly possible. Right now we don’t see much of that in the mainstream media. For most of my life, the Washington Post was my local paper. Over the years it moved from liberal to openly leftist. Now I read the Arizona Republic and the Capitol Times. I see a lot of the same kind of bias, particularly in the Republic. I think that’s one of the reasons President Trump’s mantra of “Fake News” resonates with so many people. The press has become one of the most distrusted institutions in our society.
Since I took over eNews, I get a daily news feed from the Associated Press, Cronkite News, and many other outlets. I see just about every major news story from several different perspectives. It’s very difficult to get unbiased reporting from the mainstream media. Of course, there is a deeper question to be asked – is there such a thing as unbiased news? Doesn’t everyone write from a point of view or set of values? That’s a philosophical question that really doesn’t have an easy answer. I do think an honest reporter can recognize their own biases and correct for them. I make no secret about being a conservative. I personally write only a small part of what gets published in eNews. Readers will make up their own minds about whether we are fair and balanced.
Anita: OK, David, you’ve taken us into some deep waters. Let’s get back to terra firma and talk about the way forward for eNews. What’s the big picture? Where is all this going?
David: That’s easy. There is a disconnect between our traditional news sources and the cultural and political values of a big part of our community. I’ve lost count of the number of times in recent months people have thanked me for the articles we’ve carried on issues of importance to conservatives — immigration, election fraud, building a new jail in Prescott. The “establishment” news sources are beholden to establishment interests and won’t touch these things. Enews will.
In terms of the “big picture” our business plan calls for doubling our readership every year. I’m making a bet that if I build a conservative news platform focused on local issues, readers will come. If we do our job right, in a couple of years eNews will be the largest digital news platform in northern Arizona. And we are starting to move into internet broadcasting. That’s really the future of journalism.
Journalism is fragmenting into niche markets. That reflects the fragmentation of our larger society. We are in a fast moving and unstable situation where we have lost a sense of social unity and cohesion. Demographic change has turned the United States into a collection of minority groups in competition with each another for power and resources. Prescott is still a very traditional community, but Arizona as a whole is following the national trend. That is increasingly reflected in our politics. And our journalism.
People may not articulate this development in the plain spoken way I do. But they sense the ground is shifting. They are starting to wake up to the loss of their country. Having the right message is rewarded in the marketplace. Having the wrong message is punished. That explains why FOX news has lost 30% of its audience since the election.
Another important cultural trend is that many people don’t read anymore. Blame the public schools, blame the internet and video games. I don’t know. But it’s a fact. Many people in our society don’t read unless they have to. They want to watch and listen. They want things condensed and simplified. Not everyone of course. Books are still being sold and newspapers are still being read. But the trend in literacy is down. The market is contracting. The dumbing down of our society, especially in popular culture, is accelerating. Visual material appeals more to the emotions than print. And now we have millions of immigrants who do not speak English and feel no need to learn. In many border communities in Arizona Spanish is the linga franca.
Prescott eNews is a small, locally owned, digital publication marketing to a rural, white community in Northern Arizona. My job as publisher is to make sure we reflect the values of the community we serve. We can’t change the broader, dystopian trends in our culture as a whole. But we can refuse to be part of the problem. What’s the future of eNews? More. Much more and on a much bigger scale as we move forward.