Today’s #MediaMonday is from Brian Wright, sports editor for Pinal Central, which includes the Casa Grande Dispatch, Maricopa Monitor, Coolidge Examiner, Eloy Enterprise, Florence Reminder & Blade-Tribune, Arizona City Independent/Edition, San Tan Valley Sentinel and Tri-Valley Dispatch.
I had the chance to meet Brian a few weeks ago when we were talking about high school sports in Arizona. More specifically, we were chatting about my book, “What’s Your Number?” He’s as passionate about sports as I am!
Brian, time to share:
How did you become such a big sports fan?
I grew up in Peoria, Ill., and my dad is from the Chicago suburbs. I've been a Chicago Cubs fan my whole life. My dad took me to Wrigley Field for the first time when I was 5-years-old, and we've shared many great moments attending games over the years. When the Cubs broke a 108-year World Series drought last year, it was one of the best moments of my life. The Cubs are a great bond (one of several) that I share with my dad. I'm also a fan of the Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks
How did you get into journalism?
I took the “scenic route,” if you will. I attended the University of Missouri, which has the top journalism school in the world. However, I was unsure about my career path at the time and majored in psychology. Midway through my junior year, I decided I wanted to write about sports. After school, I got my foot in the door at a newspaper in my hometown of Peoria, and that eventually led to a full-time job in Arizona.
What was your first job out of college?
I became the sports editor at the Eastern Arizona Courier in Safford in 2006. Working at a small newspaper, I was a one-man sports department, doing writing, editing, page design and everything else. It prepared me well for the rest of my journalism career.
Tell us a little about your job:
I've been sports editor at the Casa Grande Dispatch since December 2016. I prioritize coverage, assign stories, edit stories and write articles and columns for the daily newspaper and our website, PinalCentral.com. We cover 10 high schools and a junior college in Pinal County, in addition to occasionally covering UA, ASU and some local professional teams.
What is the biggest story you’ve covered?
For five years, I covered government and politics for the Casa Grande Dispatch and Maricopa Monitor. The biggest story I broke was exposing a contract Pinal County had with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house immigrant detainees at the Pinal County Jail. The public was told for years the contract was making money and paying off debt on a jail expansion. In reality, the contract was costing the county taxpayers more than $3 million per year. Several of my big stories involved uncovering the corruption of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
What do you like to do when you're not working?
I like to watch sports, read, play guitar, go to the gym, hike and experience the great dining scene in metro Phoenix. Barrio Cafe and Pizzeria Bianco are my favorites. I hike the trails on South Mountain, since my apartment sits in its shadow. I also enjoy a good craft beer, whether it's Anchor Steam or local brews like the Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter (seasonal only, which is a bummer) and San Tan Brewing Company's Devil's Ale.
You can follow me on Twitter, @BrianWright05.