Tombstone Epitaph

 

They call Tombstone "the town too tough to die," and for more than a century The Tombstone Epitaph was part of the area's colorful history. Students produced the local edition from 1975 to 2018 as part of the Community Journalism and Arizona Sonora News classes.

Epitaph staffers won Arizona Newspapers Association awards for feature writing; photography; and sustained coverage, for their reporting about the Minutemen Project's activities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Students were in competition with professional journalists working for community newspapers throughout Arizona.

"When Publisher Harold Love planned to drop the Epitaph in favor of a historical journal in 1975, I grabbed the opportunity to let our students take over and continue publishing the local edition," said the late George Ridge, director of the school from 1972-78 and 1985-91. "At first, we used the old Epitaph office. But the students hated it. It felt like a museum. They wanted to be out roaming the streets.

"In general, they had to be accepted by the town. People resisted at first, but came around. At the time, we were the only journalism department publishing a community newspaper 70 miles from campus. President Ford congratulated us on the paper’s 96th anniversary. It was probably the best publicity we ever got."

The School of Journalism is planning a retrospective issue of The Epitaph with input from alums. To share a memory or a favorite story, email Outreach Coordinator Mike Chesnick at mchesnick1@arizona.edu