This project would not have been possible without the support of so many who helped turn this six-year process into a reality. First, and foremost, I would like to say thank you to the University of Arizona School of Journalism for allowing me the opportunity to return after 4 ½ years away to complete my master’s degree. More specifically, I’d like thank David Cuillier, who helped me craft a topic that not only was possible during my quick timeline, but was also timely and newsworthy. I’m proud of the end result and how this was beneficial for my goal of being a professional reporter. I’d also like to thank Debbie Cross, Linda Lumsden and Maggie Zanger, who provided me ample information regarding the requirements for this project, and for keeping on me as my deadlines approached.
Next, I’d like to thank my family, including my parents, Jeffrey and Marjorie, my sisters, Melody, Erin and Amanda, my grandma, Molly, and my uncle, Rick, who helped me stay focused on my goals. They have taught me the importance of hard work and gave me the extra push toward ultimately obtaining a second degree. I’d also like to thank my girlfriend, Erin Shanahan, and numerous friends, who have supported me during this process. Whether it was allowing me to vent about how overwhelmed I was with work, or hanging out with me when I needed a break, they were always there for me. I’ll always be grateful for the strong and tight-knit support system I possess.
Lastly, I’d like to thank my bosses and colleagues at the Arizona Daily Star, including Jill Jorden Spitz, Hipolito Corrella, Joe Ferguson, Tim Steller, Jasmine Demers and James Martinez, who recognized the importance of this project. From Day One, they supported me as I worked toward completion, whether it was giving me time for my academic work, offering advice on potential sources for the project, answering questions regarding project requirements, or checking in for updates. I’m very grateful to work in such a caring environment. I’d also like to thank Alex Devoid, Thomas Hruska, Sean Kasun, Becky Pallack and Rob Wisner. They gave me a crash course on digital and data reporting and helped teach me a language I had never understood. And most importantly, Kevin Baas, Colleen Coyle Mathis and Dave Bradlee, who created the tools necessary to complete this project, and provided me with project recommendations. They went above and beyond helping me complete my ultimate goal with this research.
This project was the product of a lot of love and support. Thank you everyone. I hope that you enjoyed the end result.