Jimmy Fallon

This week I got a call from a Phoenix TV reporter. She wanted to confirm some information she had regarding the deaths of the two children in Superior.

She said PinalCentral, our website, seemed to be the authority on all news in Pinal County and she just wanted to see if we had the same information she had learned.

As it turns out I couldn’t confirm the information she had and I told her so.

At first I was irritated that another news organization would call us to confirm information. Then, after thinking about it, I was flattered at the news reputation we seem to enjoy now among our peers.

In an unrelated story, an official with the state Game and Fish Department asked reporter Heather Smathers if she could do a followup on her story about how Rooster Cogburn said a mountain lion had killed some of his ostriches at his tourist ranch near Picacho Peak.

The game official said he had been getting so many calls after our first story ran that he hoped a followup story by us would quell the number of inquiries.

Of course, if he had called us back initially before we ran the first story, he wouldn’t have been in that situation.

But these are examples of the wide reach PinalCentral and Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. have. It is also a positive testament to our reputation.

People regularly contact us about something they saw on social media or heard about to see if it is true, or what the back story might be. The other day a guy wanted to know why a CSI van was outside a home in his neighborhood. It turns out it was a suicide.

In 2011 the Pew Research Institute did a study that traced the origins of most news reported widely by all organizations online, television and in print, and found the original source was usually a newspaper story.

This report prompted the marketing department at a previous newspaper I worked at to come up with the slogan “The News Starts Here” to promote the newspaper.

Newspapers continue to experience revenue challenges, but readership isn’t one of them. Like most community newspaper organizations, Casa Grande Valley Newspapers is reaching more people than ever before through its PinalCentral website and other platforms that include electronic newsletters and social media.

Our analytics show us that many of these readers are being directed to our stories through Facebook, Twitter and other social media referrals.

It is true that fewer people are getting their news from print newspapers and are turning to what is now being dubbed “screen media.” But they are still getting their news from newspapers, whether they know it or not.

If a news story starts here, then where does it end?

That’s easy. Late night TV.

Most late night comedians turn to news originally generated by newspapers for material in monologues and skits.

Earlier this month, reporter Caela Fox covered Eloy’s “Day of the Dinosaurs,” a parks and recreation celebration for children hosted by Dino Crew Entertainment, a company that specializes in parties and events using mechanical dinosaurs. While at the event, Caela heard from a firefighter that someone had called the Eloy Police Department asking if the dinosaurs in the park were real. This tip was then relayed to Heather, who chased down the story. The police gave us a recording of the call, and the story by Heather, photos by Caela and the recording were packaged together online in an asset that went viral.

Some writers for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” saw the story and came up with the following joke for his monologue:

“A man in Arizona called the police asking if the dinosaur decorations in his local park were real dinosaurs. The cops said ‘no — but the mushrooms you ate were definitely real.’”

OK, the caller was actually a woman, although she blamed her brother for telling her they were real.

With a multiplatform approach to reporting, newspaper groups like ours show that newspapers haven’t become dinosaurs in a digital world.


Andy Howell is assistant managing editor. He can be reached at ahowell@pinalcentral.com.