Howe Gelb, Bajo Turbato and Cadillac Steakhouse headline the Press Box Bash at Club Congress this Friday, March 26. It's an introduction event/fundraiser for TucsonSentinel.com, even though the local online news outlet has been up and running for several months now.
TucsonSentinel.com is the brainchild of some former employees of the Tucson Citizen, and as a result, it boasts a reporting contingent with decades of journalism experience.
"There's a need in Tucson for reporters hitting the streets, and finding out things for people. We need more voices. It's too big of a town to have just one daily newspaper as the primary news source," said editor/publisher Dylan Smith, who used to be the online editor at the Tucson Citizen. "As an organization, we don't have an editorial stance beyond a need to report the truth. We're not a liberal Web site. We're not a conservative Web site. We want to provide the truth. ... Our only agenda is giving people the straight dope."
TucsonSentinel.com's founders set up the site as a nonprofit—and working in an unpaid, volunteer capacity is the norm for freelance contributors at the moment. Like numerous media managers these days, the founders are attempting to unearth ways to keep the site financially afloat.
"We didn't want to put all this work in without being around for awhile," Smith said. "If people want to have another source of news and have another voice out there, they're going to have to help us out. We're going to be selling ads, sponsorships, and we're going to need some contributions from the community."
Smith says readership continues to increase on the site, which provides breaking news as well as more in-depth reporting.
"We're trying to have a constant, steady flow of material, but we also want to take the opportunity for people to step back and delve into and explain things, and not just hit the surface level," Smith said. "If you're chasing after every ambulance and fire truck, sometimes you won't get to the real meat of the story, because you're too busy eating every little thing that happens all day long.
"We're not doing this to get rich. We're not a for-profit company that's skimming 30 percent off the top and running out of town with it," continued Smith, in a not-very-veiled dig at Gannett, which shut down the print operation of the Tucson Citizen last year, but still manages to reap financial benefits through its partnership with Lee Enterprises, which owns and operates the Arizona Daily Star. "We're here; we're local; we all live here and know this town. ... We really want the community to become involved and be a part of this, obviously helping us as a business, but also taking advantage of the fact we've worked really hard to program and design a forum for people to come and discuss things."