November Surprise

Craig OuthierOctober 22, 2020
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Before we dive into managing editor Leah LeMoine’s bright and appetizing outdoor dining cover story, let’s talk about a matter several readers brought to my attention from last month’s coverage.

Actually, on second thought, no. Let’s talk about Leah’s story first. It warrants it!

Visualized by art director Mirelle Inglefield and her team of photographers, Take It Outside is the ideal companion for our pandemic post-summer moment, designed for readers who’d like to start going to restaurants again, but in a way that might limit their exposure to a certain pompom-shaped pathogen. Fortunately, in the Valley come autumn, such options are plentiful, brought to life by Leah’s zingy, effortlessly readable copy. A friend of mine asked for patio dining ideas recently, and I have to admit, I violated embargo guidelines and just emailed him Leah’s draft. She phrases it all much better than I ever could.

OK, now onto the other thing. We received a few not-positive emails last month about our profile of U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly. Most of the readers in question wondered why we didn’t run a complementary, 2,000-word profile on his opponent, Senator Martha McSally, who faces him this month in the November general election. It’s a fair point to bring up, and most of the emailers did so rationally. Others, not so much. (The one who accused us of being part of the deep state arguably falls into the latter camp.)

I’d like to address the complaint here, because it brings into sharp relief the purpose – and limitations – of a monthly local magazine.

Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

“Because that’s part of our mission at the magazine. It can’t always be poolside burgers and pretty patios.”

The fact is, we did profile McSally – two years ago when she first ran for Senate, and included the same kind of “get to know you” personal information as the Kelly profile. Her origins, childhood, losing her dad at a young age, successes in the military, etc. So, doing a similar piece on McSally again just wasn’t in our bandwidth. Unlike, say, a TV news channel, we don’t produce content daily. We can’t hold ourselves to an “equal airtime” philosophy in every issue. If McSally were running for the first time, or we hadn’t profiled her before, I would have commissioned a separate or dual profile. Kelly was simply the shiny new object.

Not to sound overly defensive about it (too late?), but there’s also this: We previously ran friendly profiles (somewhat shorter, admittedly) on Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Lee and Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel (both Republicans) without complementary articles about their opponents. We also had Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich in the magazine not too long ago, and Governor Doug Ducey. I try to make sure that we give fair and equal coverage to both parties in the aggregate, over the course of years and months. But it’s just not possible in every issue, or pair of issues.

With all that said, we’re wandering into the minefield again, in the guise of a highly editorialized election preview with a little something here and there to irritate everybody. I hope.

Because that’s part of our mission at the magazine. It can’t always be poolside burgers and pretty patios.

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