What is Fourth Estate 48?
This is a newsletter dedicated to government accountability in Arizona through public records. The ultimate goal is for this to be the go-to place in Arizona to see public records in all their glory. Check out all the documents I’ve received so far.
I aim to be a resource both for reporters and the public to directly see what politicians and government officials don’t want you to see – their communications, calendars, camera footage, police reports, etc. All records are presumed to be public, but there are always exceptions. These will be explored through the records I receive.
I have made it my mission as a reporter to constantly ask questions and dig into problem areas through the state’s public records law, and broke many stories doing so.
Arizona Revised Statutes Title 39 is where you can see the state’s public records law.
Why Fourth Estate 48?
The Fourth Estate refers to the press and journalism as a whole and State 48 is the beautiful state of Arizona. So it roughly translates to journalism in Arizona.
Who is contributing to Fourth Estate 48?
This is a one-person operation run by me, Dillon Rosenblatt. I’m a local Arizona journalist through and through. You may have seen my bylines at Phoenix New Times, Arizona Capitol Times, KJZZ Phoenix and Arizona Mirror. I am an award-winning journalist who has covered everything from elections and the state legislature to education, courts and the Arizona Corporation Commission, among other areas.
My reporting led to the Republican attorney general to investigate the Republican governor over a potential election violation. It led the Arizona legislature to remove partial oversight of the state’s school voucher program away from the Democratic superintendent of public instruction and it caused multiple applicants to withdraw candidacy from appointments over plagiarism in their applications.
Some other major stories I wrote based on public records include: Finding out the Yavapai County attorney was charging medical marijuana cardholders for possession of marijuana extracts; and discovering former Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen used a prostitution ring in the Marshall Islands to bring pregnant women to the United States for his illegal adoption business.
What will we get by subscribing?
How often I publish will depend on how quickly I receive the records I request. Unfortunately, several government bodies tends to take their time fulfilling requests since Arizona’s public records law doesn’t explicitly define what “promptly” means, but you can expect to see frequent posts — especially in weeks where I have a lot of documents to comb through.
The real star of the show: The documents. I’ll be writing summaries of what was in the request and highlight the most interesting (and relevant) parts. I also welcome comments and questions. These posts will not be full-length stories, instead they’ll mostly be quick reads you’ll get straight to your inbox. If there’s something worth diving deeper into explaining and discussing, I’ll do that too.
With the documents, expect them to be published in full, plus with a redaction log if agencies send it along. I will be requesting that every time I request records so I can provide the full picture.
Nothing will be behind a paywall at first as I cultivate readership and gain your trust, but eventually expect prices to start out at just $5/month (the lowest Substack will go) or $50/year. If you really believe in me and want to give more, $150 will make you a founding member (I’m looking into gift subscriptions for that tier); or you can pay as much as you want between $50 and $150, if you’re feeling generous.
My ultimate goal is for news outlets to use the records I find to aid their own reporting with proper credit to me and this newsletter. Please cite me like you would any other outlet, or if you already wrote a story using public records and would like me to feature that in this newsletter, I can credit you and link to your reporting as well.
This is something I’m extremely passionate about, which you’ll see in the work that I do for this newsletter. I can’t wait to get going.
Thanks for reading Fourth Estate 48! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Have a tip or suggestion on what records I should be requesting? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach me on Twitter.