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Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix named Historic Site in Journalism


Christine Cordial, SPJ Program Coordinator, (317) 920-4788, ccordial@spj.org
Isaac Taylor, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785, itaylor@spj.org

Update: This press release was updated on 9/07/2018.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has named the Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix as a Historic Site in Journalism.

After waiting in the lobby of the hotel for a source who never showed up, Don Bolles, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, was killed by a car bomb planted by organized crime families on June 13, 1976. “Bolles had barely begun pulling out of his parking space at the Hotel Clarendon in midtown Phoenix when a bomb ripped through the steel undercarriage of his compact car, shattering his body and sending him to the hospital,” Phil Boas, the Arizona Republics’ editorial page director, wrote in memory of Bolles.

The recent murder of five Capital Gazette employees makes Bolles’ story all the more relevant. It acts as a reminder that some who benefit from a lack of free speech would go to great lengths to silence the voiceless. Across the world, and recently in the United States, the premeditated murder of journalists has sparked widespread unity among the journalism community.

Joe Ferguson, president of the Arizona Press Club, wrote in support of the Clarendon Hotel, “The reaction from the journalism community was quick, where teams from across the country formed the Arizona Project on the basis of digging into the organized crime families that murdered Don Bolles.”

The goal of the Arizona Project, formed by a nationwide team of investigative reporters, was to complete Bolles’ reporting on organized crime. Their message: You might kill a journalist, but you won’t kill the story,” said Doug Haddix, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, in his letter of support for the Clarendon Hotel.

The Clarendon Hotel is more than a reminder of Bolles’ death, it is a monument of the unity that came from tragedy.

“[The Clarendon Hotel] is a significant setting in the history of American journalism, not only for the crime committed at that place, but for the strong, bold line American reporters drew there,” Boas wrote.

The SPJ Valley of the Sun Pro Chapter spearheaded the nomination effort, noting that the Clarendon Hotel represents a “sacred ground” for journalists. As chapter president Tim Eigo observed, “the hotel remains open and is committed to Don’s legacy. The owner, Ben Bethel, has long been a passionate advocate of telling Don’s story.” According to Eigo, recognizing the hotel as an SPJ Historic Site in Journalism helps to honor Bolles and “endorse the hotel’s longtime commitment to this important story.”

A bronze plaque will be placed inside the first floor of the Clarendon Hotel – an area already dedicated to Don Bolles’ history – to distinguish it as a National Historic Site in Journalism. See a complete list of past winners here.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.


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