El Independiente is the student-produced bilingual magazine serving South Tucson. Students work as an editorial staff to create the paper for a community of 7,500 that is about 85 percent Hispanic.
Jacqueline Sharkey, a professor who went on to become director of the School of Journalism from 2000 to 2010, founded El Independiente in 1976 as a newspaper that focused on presenting in-depth public affairs and investigative reporting on political, economic and social issues affecting residents of South Tucson.
"For many years, the newspaper was the only bilingual publication in the country produced on a regular basis by students to serve a real community," Sharkey said. "El Independiente staffers went on to work for major news organizations around the country, and won awards as professional journalists for their investigative work."
Miriam Morgan was the first editor of El Independiente, which debuted on May 7, 1976. The staff included Keith Bagwell and Ann Brown, who went on to become reporters at the Arizona Daily Star. See a PDF of the original staff box at bottom right.
A story above the first staff box read: "If this issue of El Independiente meets with good response from residents and if adequate funds are found, the newspaper may become an established publication sponsored by the U of A and staffed by journalism students."
George Ridge, UA journalism department head at the time, found funding to sustain El Independiente in the late 1970s — and it celebrated its 40th anniversary in fall 2016.
In spring 2012, the publication changed from a newspaper to a magazine format. It also has moved beyond South Tucson to tackle issues affecting southern Arizonans living along the U.S.-Mexico border.