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The Arizona Republic: Media Bias And Factual Reporting Analysis

The Arizona Republic is a daily newspaper based in Phoenix, the capital city of Arizona state of the United States. Owned by Gannett, the daily is slightly inclined towards a left ideology. However, its news stories and editorials do not intend to promote or push the ideology rigorously. As far as factual reporting is concerned, The Arizona Republic scores high on the scale. Its articles and reports contain verified facts. Having said that, there has been an instance where the newspaper twisted the story to serve sensationalism.

It is undeniable that the workplace culture affects the quality of stories coming out from the journalists. The Arizona Republic has been accused of gender and racial disparity. At the same time, its journalists are often subjected to layoffs. We at Mediabuzz referred to several credible sources, websites, research papers, fact checking sites and blogs to ascertain the reliability and biases of The Arizona Republic. Headlines, controversies, allegations, fake news are some of the factors taken into consideration to evaluate the newspaper.

The Arizona Republic Media Bias Summary

Media Bias Result: Left Center

The Arizona Republic reports with minimum bias. Though its editorials are generally balanced, they portray slight left thoughts. The same also gets demonstrated through the articles published in the Op-Ed page. The Arizona Republic has a long history of endorsing Republican presidential candidates until 2016, after which it supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Later, in 2020, the newspaper announced to publish no endorsements at all.

left center

The Arizona Republic Factual Reporting Summary

Factual Reporting Result: Highly Reliable

The Arizona Republic has a clean fact check record. Several fact-checking websites have also given high ratings to the newspaper for factual reporting. While for local and state news, it has correspondents, for national news, The Arizona Republic depends on USA Today. In both cases, it makes sure to stick to the facts with proper sourcing. Mediabuzz found only a single instance where The Arizona Republic tweaked the facts and presented a completely false narrative.

highly reliable

A. The Arizona Republic Media Bias Analysis

The Arizona Republic covers a wide range of topics including business, travel, politics, sports and local news. Stories of The Arizona Republic are not agenda-driven. The newspaper covers news with minimal bias or a neutral approach, however, its slight left-inclination is noticeable in its editorials and op-ed articles.

1. Analysis Of The Arizona Republic’s Headlines

The Arizona Republic carries headlines with least bias. The headlines are balanced and mostly sans emotionally-charged terms. However, the editorials and opinions give a glimpse of a left ideology. Some of the examples have been cited below:

I. Wait, wouldn’t a Jan. 6 commission prove ‘the left’ caused the Capitol riot?

The opinion piece written by EJ Montini was published on May 20, 2021. The slug of the aforementioned article read ‘Opinion: Why would all of Arizona’s Republicans in the House vote against the commission? Because … truth’. The piece slammed Republicans for their two-facedness. The opinion starts with, “This is puzzling” and then adds, “Ever since the insurrection of Jan. 6 at the nation’s Capitol there have been accusations by Republicans that the mob was not made up of Trump-inspired seditionists but had somehow been manipulated by ‘the left’ and infiltrated by antifa or Black Lives Matter and it was them who got folks all riled up”.

“And yet all of Arizona’s congressional Republicans voted against establishing an independent commission to investigate the event,” it further mentions.

The article states, “It appears that what frightens these Republicans is that this 9/11-style commission, unlike the sham election audit in Arizona, would not be a strictly partisan affair controlled by one party and run by zealots who’d already made up their minds about the outcome. In this commission the power would be shared equally and, as Rep. Katko said, ‘depoliticized’.”

II. After Trump, what does it mean to be a Republican?

The abovementioned opinion piece written by Robert Robb was published on December 13, 2020. Criticising Trump’s style of governance, the piece said, “Trump governed in a generally conservative fashion. But he governed by the seat of his pants. By impulse, not ideology. And mostly an impulse about what was best for him politically, at that very moment. Trump succeeded in making the Republican Party into the political equivalent of a vanity press. The party stood for whatever Trump thought in his best interest at that moment.”

“America First is a marketing slogan. It’s not a rubric for a coherent and cohesive set of policies or a unified vision of what the country should be,” the article states.

2. The Arizona Republic’s Endorsement Of Presidential Candidates

I. An Overview

Though The Arizona Republic decided to not endorse any candidates, the newspaper has been conservative throughout its history. It was only in 2016 that it endorsed Hillary Clinton, a Democrat for the presidential elections. Eugene C. Pulliam, its owner and publisher from 1946 to 1975 until his death, used to publish right-wing editorials on the front page itself. Gannett acquired The Arizona Republic from Pulliam family in 2000. In 2006, Gannet was described by Cliff Kincaid of the conservative watchdog group, Accuracy in Media, as “another important bastion of liberal media power.”

At present, The Arizona Republic has more similarities with USA Today than its old version. One of the most anti-conservative editorial cartoonists, Steve Benson, has been associated with the newspaper since 1980.

II. No Endorsement

On February 26, 2020, The Arizona Republic on its website published an opinion titled, ‘The Arizona Republic will no longer make candidate endorsements. Here’s why’. Written by Greg Burton and Phil Boas, the slug of the piece read: “Opinion: Readers have made it clear: You want to be informed about elections but not told how to vote. We hear you.”

According to the opinion piece, the importance of editorial endorsements is shrinking. Also, readers are not able to differentiate between opinion and news. “They tell us our endorsements alienate them and blur the way they read our news stories. They don’t see the sharp line we draw between our news and opinion content,” states the write-up.

“We gradually replaced most of our editorials with more opinion columns, more perspectives from a wider range of people in our diverse community,” it added. “They don’t want their daily newspaper or news website telling them which candidates and which party should get their votes,” mentions the piece.

III. Democrat Endorsement

The Arizona Republic’s decision to not back any candidate was seen as a consequence of the death threats the newspaper employees received for its 2016 presidential candidate endorsement. That year, the daily supported Hillary Clinton, a Democrat for president over Republican Donald Trump.

It was for the first time in its history of 126 years that The Arizona Republic endorsed a Democratic candidate for the presidential election.

On September 27, 2016, the newspaper published an editorial titled, ‘Endorsement: Hillary Clinton is the only choice to move America ahead’. “Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles. This year is different. The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified. That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president,” the editorial states clearly.

3. The Arizona Republic: Controversies/Allegations

I. Dave’s Not Here

Phoenixnewtimes.com published a story on January 19, 1995 with the title ‘Dave’s Not Here’. Written by Amy Silverman, the report stated that a veteran reporter of The Arizona Republic David Schwartz was fired after it was found that he impersonated Valley attorney and former appellate judge Bruce Meyerson to ‘impress’ a woman.

II. Sexual Assault Allegations

In a report published on December 15, 2020, with the title, ‘Former Paperboy Sues Arizona Republic Over Child Sex Abuse Ring’, phoenixnewtimes.com wrote, Gregory Brown, 59, accused James Allen Robertson of abusing him. Robertson, member of the circulation department of now-defunct Phoenix Gazette, was his supervisor. In 1980, he was accused of molesting 35 children under the age of 10.

“There are powerful organizations that have had a lot of dealings with children, that have been allowed to get away with what these days would be shocking to the conscience — and should have been shocking to them then,” said John Charland, Brown’s attorney. Gannett refused to offer its comment on the issue, stated the website.

B. The Arizona Republic Factual Reporting Analysis

Mediabuzz could only find a single instance of fake news published by The Arizona Republic. The facts were twisted and the story was given a sensationalised treatment. Besides this, the newspaper is mostly known for publishing verified and balanced reports. Also, The Arizona Republic has its own fact-checking website, thus, minimising the chances of the newspaper itself committing any factual error. Below we have cited an instance that put The Arizona Republic at its stake.

1. Fake News

In a story titled ‘Murdering The Truth’ published on December 29, 1994, phoenixnewtimes.com alleged that The Arizona Republic published a fake story. “As the centerpiece of a high-profile investigative series, the Arizona Republic published a story suggesting Arizona Boys Ranch employees had mistreated and later murdered a troubled black teenager. The story was wrong,” wrote the website.

phoenixnewtimes.com claimed that two reporters of The Arizona Republic didn’t interview witnesses, turned a blind eye towards contradictory information and even doctored quotes. On being confronted, the editors backed their reporters and went on to criticise Boys Ranch in its editorial, said the report. “While preparing the story, Republic reporters omitted, twisted and, at times, manufactured information,” it further stated. Distortions made by the newspaper came to the surface only after Boys Ranch conducted an independent investigation.

2. Fact-checking Website

The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com have their own fact-checking website called azcentral Fact Check. It researches and reports on the level of accuracy of political statements and other events of public interest in Arizona and the United States. The content also gets published in The Arizona Republic.

3. The Arizona Republic: Other Factors

Newsroom culture, extent of workload, job security, pay scale and demographics of the newsroom also determine the performance of journalists, ultimately affecting the reliability of the particular news outlet. Pay disparity and layoffs are common scenes in The Arizona Republic.

I. Layoffs

A report published on phoenixnewtimes.com with the title ‘Arizona Republic Announces Fresh Round of Weeklong Furloughs’ on May 10, 2011, stated the financial issues have triggered this latest furlough. “Publisher John Zidich announced the mandatory, unpaid week off for most employees in an e-mail today published on Gannett Blog: Zidich adds that he’s ‘sorry’ that the furloughs will create hardships for employees and their families,” the report further wrote.

On June 21, 2011, a report published on phoenixnewtimes.com wrote, “About 40 people have been laid off at the Arizona Republic, which also announced plans to close a Chandler press that prints USA Today and various inserts”. Publisher John Zidich, in a Republic article today, cites weak national revenue at Gannett as part of the reason.

Again on August 2, 2013, phoenixnewtimes.com in its report stated, “The bloodbath at Gannett Company Inc., over the past 48 hours saw as many as 223 jobs lost, with 29 people reportedly laid off at the Arizona Republic”. The report written by Ray Stern further added, “Gannett Blog, where news of the layoffs first broke, reports that the ‘stealth’ layoffs at 37 different locations nationwide followed recent news of another big slip in ad sales. The restructuring includes “the elimination of open jobs and the unexpected retirement of several publishers and senior editors with relatively little advance notice”.

On April 29, 2021, phoenixnewtimes.com published a report with the header, ‘Why Are So Many Journalists Leaving the Arizona Republic?’ written by Josh Kelety. The article stated that around 21 employees quit the newspaper between May 2020 and April 2021. Sixteen of whom comprised women, journalists of color and LGBTQ staffers. Uriel J. García, an award-winning public safety reporter, left The Arizona Republic on April 8. She said, “I couldn’t do this anymore because I felt like I was being disrespected, particularly because the company has been hiring people straight out of college that are making more money than I was.”

“Insiders cite factors such as low pay, burnout, a toxic work environment created by the paper’s executive editor, Greg Burton, gender and race-based pay disparities and management’s allegedly superficial commitment to diversifying its staff and supporting women and people of color in the newsroom,” the report further stated.

II. Pay Disparity

Columbia Journalism Review published a report on April 27, 2021, with the headline, ‘New union study claims gender, racial pay inequities in Gannett newsrooms’.

A pay-equity study of Gannett newsrooms produced by the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America found that women and journalists of colour were paid unequally. Gannett newsrooms also has an overwhelmingly white, male workforce “less racially diverse than the U.S. as a whole”.

“There were also notable pay gaps for women and journalists of color. Women across the board earned almost $10,000 less, or 83 percent of men’s median salaries each year. Women of color earned around $15,700 less, or 73 percent of white men’s median salaries,” the CJR report stated.

Arizona Republic has the largest racial and gender pay disparities. “Women earned only 67 percent of men’s median pay and journalists of color earned a mere 63 percent of white workers’ median pay,” the report said.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) published a report on its website on June 2, 2021, asking The Arizona Republic and Gannett to “meet the demands by newsroom Diversity Committee”. The report stated that NAHJ is disturbed with pay inequalities and a “lack of advancement opportunities within the company’s newsroom”.

III. Employee’s Work Phone Confiscated

In a report written by Steven Hsieh for phoenixnewtimes.com, the header read, ‘Gannett Confiscates Pro-Union Arizona Republic Reporter’s Work Phone’. Published on September 3, 2019, the article stated that an HR representative seized the work phone of a reporter as she backed the campaign to unionize the newsroom.

A human resources representative for Gannett, the parent company of the Arizona Republic, confiscated the work phone of a reporter involved in a Phoenix newsroom, the reporter said on Facebook.

In a Facebook post, journalist Rebekah Sanders said that the representative “interrogated” her regarding her “unionizing activity.”

“I asked how I would conduct interviews the rest of the day. She said, ‘You won’t.’ I asked when I could have it back,” wrote Sanders in a Facebook post. “She said she would let me know. My work cell has all of my contacts and is an integral part of my job,” she added. The action by the company was counted as one of the attempts to suppress the organizing drive that began after layoff earlier that year.

C. The Arizona Republic Reliability Ratings by Fact-Checking Websites

The Arizona Republic has been evaluated by prominent fact-checking websites in the past. Here below, we have summarised the outcomes of their studies on The Arizona Republic’s bias and credibility.

1. Ad Fontes Media

According to the Ad Fontes Media ratings methodology, The Arizona Republic is mostly trustworthy. The newspaper’s bias score puts it in the left-central category. However, the bias score of The Arizona Republic is quite close to neutral.

2. All Sides

All Sides has given The Arizona Republic a Center “Media Bias Rating,” which means that the Phoenix-based newspaper keeps a neutral stand while reporting on various news events.

3. Media Bias/ Fact Check

According to the report published by Media Bias / Fact Check, The Arizona Republic shows a left-center bias at times. The bias rating of The Arizona Republic is “based on editorial positions that moderately favor the left and liberal Democratic candidates”. On the Factual Reporting parameter, The Arizona Republic ranks high according to Media Bias / Fact Check. “A factual search reveals they have not failed a fact check,” claims the report.

D. Brief Introduction of The Oregonian

History

The Arizona Republic is a Phoenix-based newspaper of the United States. It is published on a daily basis and circulated throughout Arizona. Gannett has been operating The Arizona Republic under its USA Today Network since 2000. The daily edition of The Arizona Republic is sold at $2, while the price of the Sundays/Thanksgiving Day edition is $3. The newspaper is sold at a higher price outside Arizona.

The Arizona Republic was first published under the title of The Arizona Republican on May 19, 1890. Dwight B. Heard operated the newspaper singlehandedly from 1912 until his death in 1929. Two employees of the newspaper, Charles Stauffer and W. Wesley Knorpp operated the newspaper until 1946 when Eugene C. Pulliam took over the business. Stauffer and Knorpp had titled the newspaper The Arizona Republic in 1930 and captured the market by acquiring rival newspapers Phoenix Evening Gazette and Phoenix Weekly Gazette.

Ownership

The newspaper has been under the ownership of Gannett since 2000. Earlier, it was owned by the Pulliam Family. Arizona Republic is affiliated with local Phoenix NBC television’s KPNX. The two media outlets collectively operate azcentral.com, a website for common local news. On October 12, 2015, Mi-Ai Parrish took over as the Publisher and President of The Arizona Republic, La Voz, its Spanish-language sister publication and AZCentral.com, the website.

E. The Oregonian Bias And Factual Reporting Summary

On the basis of evaluation and analysis of multiple research papers, reports and fact-checking websites, Mediabuzz concluded that The Arizona Republic rarely exhibits biases. Originally the conservative newspaper shifted to supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton before going for no endorsements. Though the opinion pieces are inclined towards the left, daily stories are impartial. It also scores high in the factual reporting scale. Besides a single fake news incident reported long back, we did not find any distortion of facts by The Arizona Republic. One thing that need not to be ignored is the gender and racial pay disparity in the newsroom that discourage journalists to be their best. Despite all these, The Arizona Republic can be considered a reliable and trustworthy source of news.

References:

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republic-reporters-push-diversity-demands-on-left-wing-site-11486969

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republic-layoffs-include-veteran-journos-former-east-valley-tribune-refugees-6652667

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republic-lays-off-30-to-40-announces-closure-of-chandler-offset-plant-yes-fashion-magazines-ending-6650501

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/why-are-so-many-journalists-leaving-the-arizona-republic-11549616

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republic-staffers-set-to-vote-on-unionization-11371784

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republic-staffers-go-public-union-drive-gannett-gatehouse-11352931

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/the-arizona-republic-will-stop-endorsing-candidates-11450401

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/former-paperboy-sues-arizona-republic-over-child-sex-abuse-ring-11519531

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/murdering-the-truth-6425048

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republic-announces-fresh-round-of-weeklong-furloughs-6647836

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/daves-not-here-6424884

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/ej-montini/2021/05/20/arizona-republicans-vote-no-jan-6-commission-capitol-riots/5178920001/

https://www.azcentral.com/politics/fact-check/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/robertrobb/2020/12/13/what-do-republicans-believe-in-once-trump-gone/3887082001/

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republic-kills-its-community-opinion-pages-in-aftermath-of-layoffs-6659820

https://www.cjr.org/local_news/new-union-study-claims-gender-racial-pay-inequities-in-gannett-newsrooms.php

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