Devil’s Advocate: Farewell from the executive staff

Daniel Perle, Kara Carlson, and Rebecca Spiess.

The top three editors of Downtown Devil say farewell as they prepare to graduate and pass on their roles for the next school year.

Rebecca Spiess, co Editor-in-Chief

Downtown Devil is where I learned to love journalism. I remember watching my first article go up on the website, obsessively tracking the clicks and shares. I was incredibly grateful to every single reader who took the time to look at my coverage and leave feedback. The downtown community was out there listening.

The Arizona Republic used to have three reporters dedicated to City Hall. Now there is only one. This struggle is not unique and is also not a reflection of the Republic’s coverage; the entire journalism world is in flux as companies scramble to find a way to pay reporters a fair wage. But as the bureaucratic machine keeps moving, creating laws and changing the face this city, the coverage has dwindled. Downtown Devil is trying to fill the gap left by this decrease in local news.

We love this community, and every resident comment, Facebook share and email from a local advocate is invaluable to us. These included people like John Sagasta, Yonas Kahsai, Erenia Pool and Will Novak. And since all of our reporters are students themselves, this is the venue where they learn how to create coverage that is fair, in-depth and valuable to the community. We are all volunteers, but we deeply love our work.

Downtown Devil taught me to love journalism, and there is no way I can repay this organization for that. However, our next crop of reporters have proven themselves to be just as resourceful, independent and driven as any of our prior editors. We are leaving the Phoenix community in good hands.

Daniel Perle, Co Editor-in-Chief

Downtown Devil provided a home away from home for this nerdy, awkward kid from Orange County in southern California. Ever since I arrived in Arizona, this has been the place I can turn to for relief, friends and, of course, the challenge of producing relevant content for a hyperlocal audience.

Having a safe place to fail, experiment and produce your own work is important in college, and Downtown Devil has provided that for over a decade now to dozens of downtown ASU students, even those who are not journalism majors. On top of that, Downtown Devil gives those who report for it a real community with which to connect—an unusual experience for most student publications, who only cover the university at which they are based.

Downtown Devil will continue on as more and more students come to study journalism here in downtown Phoenix, and downtown Phoenix itself will continue to grow and demand more coverage. Downtown Phoenix is at the center of some of the issues which will define our world in the decades to come: climate change, migration and affordable housing. These issues demand the nuanced, hyperlocal coverage that we will continue to provide.

Kara Carlson, Executive Editor

When I arrived in downtown Phoenix freshman year I saw a mix of dirt lots, construction, tall buildings, shops tucked away in bungalows and unique characters. I needed to know more about the community I would call my home for the next four years.

Downtown Devil gave me that opportunity from day one, as I walked into my first meeting, a quiet freshman unsure of what exactly to expect. Even then there was a buzz in the room and a familial feeling to this scrappy publication. I had to be a part of it.

Now I’m saying goodbye. I’ve watched downtown Phoenix evolve and it feels weird to leave my home of the last four years, as well as the publication I consider family, but I know I leave it in capable hands.

Downtown Devil is unique in many ways. As an entirely student-run operation, it means a lot of bootstrapping. We learn with nothing more than the guidance and encouragement of those older than us to keep our ears to the ground, from sitting in community meetings to checking city agendas, to just learning to follow our gut feelings.

The opportunity to cover a real city, and a diverse, ever-changing community is not something a lot of student journalists are afforded. Downtown Devil is a place to fail, a place to try out new ideas, and a place to learn what it means to be a reporter.

It isn’t always pretty. There were plenty of late nights, frustrating stories, arguments and interview calls slipped in during the few minutes between classes. But I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences with Downtown Devil. Each built me into the reporter I am today.

Thank you for letting us into your lives and your community and for trusting us to cover some of the most important issues happening in our ever-changing downtown landscape. Downtown Devil will continue to do important journalism and give new generations of students a place to grow, learn and understand why hyperlocal journalism matters.

I leave knowing that downtown Phoenix and the staff of Downtown Devil will always have a place in my heart.

Contact the editors at [email protected] [email protected] and [email protected].