New Times founders donate money from Arpaio lawsuit to ASU

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX --The co-founders of Phoenix New Times are giving a $2 million gift to ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The gift will support a new program focused on coverage of Latino and borderlands issues.

Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin won a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and they're using those proceeds to establish a Chair in Borderlands Issues at ASU.

Back in 2007, Lacey and Larkin sued MCSO after they were arrested for publishing details of a subpoena. Last year, they won a $3.75 million settlement in that case.

Lacey and Larkin say their gift to ASU stems from their "outrage at the way Mexican immigrants, in particular, have been treated by the sheriff's office."

"This is community money. The taxpayers' only mistake was to elect Joe Arpaio, but we felt the money needed to be returned to the community and the community that has been affected most by his reign," says New Times co-founder Jim Larkin.

The Chair will be the only one of its kind to focus exclusively on Latino and borderlands coverage. The Chair will direct advanced student journalists in a professional immersion program in which they will report, write and produce cutting-edge stories that will be distributed in English and Spanish to professional media outlets and will be prominently featured on the Cronkite News website and Arizona PBS newscasts.

Additionally, the Lacey-Larkin Chair will comment on and write about border and immigration reporting nationally, promoting public scrutiny and serving as a national voice on coverage of issues affecting the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.

The new Chair will be the cornerstone of a Cronkite specialization that will include three full-time professors. The Lacey-Larkin Chair and a second, university-funded, professor to be added next year will join Cronkite Professor Rick Rodriguez, former editor of the Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors, as Southwest Borderlands Professors.