[VIRTUAL] Keeping it Local: Ensuring Journalism in Arizona Thrives

After years ravaged by press layoffs, newsroom shutterings, and attacks on the media, the need for a community-driven rescue mission for local journalism has never been more evident. But first we must understand the problem and collectively reaffirm how integral local news coverage is to the health of a community, both literally and figuratively. In order to begin this conversation and foster public awareness and grassroots advocacy for local news media, PEN America is launching a series of town hall convenings to bring together members of the press, elected officials, and the public to discuss the landscape of local news in 2021.

This event will bring together journalists, community organizers, and elected officials to discuss what Arizonans can do to support local journalism in their state. This town hall will provide powerful advocacy tools to community members interested in supporting their local news outlets, such as amplifying local news stories on social media, subscribing to local outlets, and lobbying elected officials for more support.


Kristy Roschke HeadshotKristy Roschke, Ph.D., is a media literacy scholar and educator. She is the managing director of the News Co/Lab, a Cronkite School initiative aimed at helping people find new ways of understanding and interacting with news and information. She previously served as executive director of KJZZ – SPOT 127 Youth Media Center, a community initiative of the Phoenix NPR member station that mentors and empowers the next-generation of digital storytellers. Roschke is a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, and has taught journalism and media literacy courses at the high school and university level for 18 years.


Maritza Lizeth Gallego Félix headshotMaritza Lizeth Gallego Félix is a freelance journalist, producer, and writer in Arizona. She is the founder of Conecta Arizona, a news-you-can-use service in Spanish that connects people in Arizona and Sonora primarily through WhatsApp and social media. She is a JSK Stanford, IWMF Adelante, Feet in 2 Worlds, Education Writers Association, and Listening Post Collective Fellow, and she is part of Take The Lead’s 50 Women Who Can Change the World in Journalism 2020 cohort. She is currently a media leader of the Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

Katherine Locke headshot

Katherine Locke began her journalism career at the Navajo-Hopi Observer in 2013, where she has been recognized for her work in bringing Native American voices and stories to the forefront with awards for both writing and photography. She has been a crucial part of the Navajo-Hopi Observer’s success in recent years as she has found her voice covering the Hopi and Navajo reservations and Indian country as a whole. During her going on eight years as an editor and reporter, Locke has worked to ensure Native American people—specifically, the Navajo and Hopi—are given a voice in northern Arizona. Her goal is simple: to empower Native American communities and tell their stories. Throughout her career, Locke has been sensitive to Native American cultures and demonstrated her depth of knowledge of Native American issues in her reporting. She writes from a place of knowledge. Her life experiences have helped shape her and have helped her to share these stories with depth and passion.

Irene Franco Rubio headshotIrene Franco Rubiois a holistic activist, writer, and community organizer based in Phoenix, AZ. A young Latinx woman of Guatemalan and Mexican descent, she is rooted in community and devoted to the movements for social, racial, and environmental justice. In Arizona, she is committed to advocating for BIPOC communities through intersectional movement building and digital community organizing for the Arizona Coalition for Change and Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona. She has a diverse array of professional advocacy experiences, ranging from interning for Rep. Deb Haaland to organizing for Michelle Obama’s nonprofit organization, When We All Vote, among other prestigious advocacy opportunities. While currently pursuing her undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, in her capacity as a writer and public thought leader, Franco Rubio is a Public Voices Fellow of the Op-Ed Project at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and continues to pursue her work as a Gen Z media professional centering her work at the intersection of activism, media, journalism, and justice as a global citizen and catalyst for change.

Tell Congress: Support Local News

PEN America and several partner organizations are mobilizing our Members and Americans across the country to use their voice to save local news. Join us by calling on your U.S. senators and representatives to support the Future of Local News Act, which would establish a federal advisory commission to study the decline of local news and propose solutions for the industry’s revitalization.


If you would like to help us spread the word about the Future of Local News Act and/or this town hall series, we hope you’ll check out our social media toolkit to access links, visual assets, and sample copy for you to use in original posts across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Belarusian protesters in background; on top: “I Support PEN Belarus” and PEN America logo

Our sister organization PEN Belarus has spent years uplifting writers and supporting the freedom to write. Now, the government is trying to shut them down. Show your support and tell them they’re not alone.