PHOENIX — Arizona State University’s journalism school is getting a gift.
Former Phoenix New Times owners Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin have given ASU $2 million to establish a new journalism program that will focus on more coverage of border issues.
“Students will work under the direction of a bilingual, high level journalist who will lead them in a reporting program on all kinds of issues related to Latino communities in Arizona, on the border and in Mexico,” said Kristin Gilger, the associate dean at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
The program is being funded by money that Lacey and Larkin received after they sued Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
They filed the lawsuit after they were arrested in 2007 after the New Times published a story that gave details of a subpoena that demanded the names of everyone who had read the paper’s online addition and information about what other websites they had browsed before and after reading the New Times.
Arpaio’s chief deputy at the time, David Hendershott, later claimed in an affidavit that he had ordered the arrests. Lacey and Larkin had been at odds with the sheriff’s office since 2004, when the New Times included Arpaio’s home address in a story about his real estate holdings.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas dropped the charges five days after Lacey and Larkin were arrested.
Lacey hopes that the program that the money is being used for will change things in Arizona.
“We are living under a lawman (Arpaio) who has been convicted of racially profiling Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in this community, and who is currently facing contempt charges.
“We are living in a state where the head of education has cancelled Chicano studies in the city of Tucson. We are living in a state where the governor (Jan Brewer) thinks that the appropriate thing to do is deny driver’s licenses to young kids because they were brought across the border by their parents at some point,” Lacey said.
“This (the donation and the new journalism program) is a small counterweight to that level of bigotry and stupidity. It is our hope that the students at ASU, if we get them young enough, can counteract some of the bigotry that’s running loose out there.”