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Let's Face It, Most Of Our Cities Go Uncovered

Here's a look at the map we're building to track where our reporters do their reporting.

PHOENIX -- Lately, I’ve been sort of obsessed about putting our reporting on the map.

As a Phoenix native, I know the city like the back of my hand. Except sometimes I’m surprised when I don’t.

Recently, I was running errands in South Phoenix when I came across a neighborhood that immediately forced me off my intended route. The homes were made of stylish red brick. The summer sunlight glistened off flood irrigation that watered expansive lawns. Clearly, the land was once a citrus orchard.

Cool! I wanted to live there.

This is remarkable because South Phoenix has a reputation for being an undesirable place to live. People I know don’t often go down there.

I have a feeling reporters don’t either.

We’ve been talking in the newsroom about making a map that shows where we do most of our interviews. [Above I'm posting an incomplete draft of a map we’re working on. You can see for yourself.]

I’m certain it would show a lot of marks in the power centers of downtown, along the Camelback Corridor, and at the still-fresh housing developments in the East Valley.

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Even though we focus so much on changing demographics, I’m not so certain our maps would show much activity south of downtown. I also wonder how often we’ve been in the Central Phoenix neighborhoods transected by Interstate 17, another part of town people tend to avoid.

This city – and probably your city – doesn’t have as many journalists working in places where journalists are often needed.

That’s a shame. Because there’s a surprise at every corner, if someone is around to look.

KJZZ News Director Peter O’Dowd finds something alluring about Phoenix and public radio, as if they have always been a part of his destiny.O'Dowd, who oversees all daily editorial direction of the KJZZ newsroom, took on the role of news director in February 2011, after serving as an assignment editor and reporter for the station since 2009.