Sedona, Arizona

October 21, 2007

About Us

The Sedona Observer


WHO WE ARE:  A new interactive newspaper produced by award-winning professional journalists, editors, writers and visual artists dedicated to public service journalism and new media.


Above all, we are creative visionaries and change agents

dedicated to using our skills for the betterment of mankind.

WHAT WE ARE NOT:  Neither a personal blog nor citizen journalism, The Sedona Observer is written, edited, illustrated, photographed, videotaped, researched, proofread and copy edited by experienced media veterans.

As such, we incorporate those newspaper components that blogs fail to reflect: a masthead with contributors, numerous pages with well-researched stories on a variety of topics, professional copy editing, an Op-Ed page with multiple voices, professional journalism affiliations and, most importantly, our own Journalism Code of Ethics adapted from the industry standard.

In addition, we do not represent a group of elitist artists or celebrity journalists looking from the outside in to create material that wins prizes. Instead, we actually live much of what we write, photograph and illustrate – to the best of our salty, down-to-earth ability - to report the truth.



First Cold Press

First Cold Press is a non-corporate, nonprofit, independent publishing organization designed to serve as the catalyst for new media and publishing practices that value humanity over currency and promote greater public awareness of the truth behind the façade of today’s issues.

Based on the theory that the “first cold press” represents the purest, highest quality and finest extraction, as in the making of fine wine or extra virgin olive oil, FCP aims to capture the finest essence of writing, the visual arts and innovative technology to inspire social change via thought-provoking content for its readers.  

A free press for all voices

FCP aims to fill the void left by many publishing companies today. While most newspapers rely on generic wire service copy and homogenized press releases for their content, FCP shuns them in favor of in-depth immersion-style articles similar to the newspapers of the 18th and 19th centuries, with provocative views that truly stir public thought.

FCP hopes to serve as a model for harmonious publishing and workplace practices for journalists and other creative artists by relinquishing the current industry practice of all-rights contracts and the usurpation of contributors' intellectual property rights. Therefore, both staff and contributors retain the full copyright to their work.

Employee-owned and operated, FCP offers all people a voice for open expression that is free from editorial control by advertisers, investors and government agencies. It relies on donations, sponsors, grants and 11th-hour angels for its ongoing success.


Staff and Contributor Bios




Managing Editor

Social Advocacy Journalist

Specializing in health care and work-life balance issues


Catherine Rourke is an award-winning journalist who picked up a quill at age 6 and has been writing ever since.

Her passion became ignited at age 15 as the Op-Ed editor of her New York high school newspaper from which she was almost dismissed for her radical, socially progressive editorials. A year later she received a Quill and Scroll Award for excellence in high school journalism for her article “Is the American Dream Really Crumbling?” – marking the start of a journalism career that would span to the present day.


After completing her studies in Latin and Greek at the City University of New York and Oxford University, England, Catherine pursued photojournalism at the School of Visual Arts and the Center for Media Arts in New York for two years, earning a certificate in Professional Photography.


She took her first job in journalism at The Miami Herald and from there proceeded to work as a news reporter and photographer for many daily and weekly newspapers around the country, from Southampton, New York, and Boston to St. George, Utah.


Her proclivity for both the written and spoken word led her to serve as the public relations director for a Nevada casino and a 4-Diamond resort in Tucson. She subsequently worked as communications director for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a renowned conservation institution dedicated to environmental research. She received a Public Relations Society of America Primus Award in 1998 for her newsletters and strategic media campaigns.


During the years she spent in public relations, Catherine continued to pen social reform articles for alternative newspapers on a freelance basis. She also contributed her writing skills pro bono for workplace reform, labor and social justice campaigns in Tucson.


Catherine moved to Sedona in 2001 to return to full-time publishing once again. She served as chief copy editor and writer for the Sedona Red Rock News for three years, winning more than a dozen top writing awards from both state and national press associations for her stories on 9/11 and other articles.


In 2004 Catherine reached an impasse in her career: She could no longer live in the shadows of her dream to write about social change on a full-time basis. There was simply too much unnecessary strife in the world to keep her passion as a hobby. She vowed to stop writing material that only served to produce revenue and glory for the already wealthy and start creating copy to promote public service journalism on all levels.

Thus she left mainstream media out of sheer frustration from its editorial limitations and censorship of social issues. For lack a publication that would allow her to bring her ethics and conscience to work, Catherine struck out on her own as a freelance journalist for national alternative newspapersand Internet publications.

On the local level, she launched a community column in The Red Rock Review called “Tales from the Trenches,” which won a distinguished Community Journalist of the Year Award from the Arizona Press Club in 2006.


After working for a year as editor-in-chief of a national alternative health magazine, Catherine returned to freelance social justice writing.

On July 5, 2007, she was inspired to gather health-care horror stories from her local community before she saw the film SiCKO. After receiving an outpouring of testimonials, she knew she would have to publish them herself to do them justice – with dignity as well as the editorial freedom to skewer what she considers a corrupt industry that thrives on human suffering.


Thus The Sedona Observer was born.


It is Catherine’s intention that this immersion-style newspaper format, which shuns advertising to maintain its editorial integrity, will offer frank and thought-provoking articles as an alternative to the dry, homogenized mediocrity of today’s mainstream news while serving as a voice for the downtrodden.


With the use of literary, narrative-style journalism and in-depth analysis of the issues, she intends to resurrect the lost art of muckraking while meshing 18th century journalism principles with 21st century technology to restore integrity to the media.

E-mail editor@SedonaObserver.com.

STEPHEN DeVOL - www.stephendevol.com

Video Producer and Filmmaker  



An award-winning filmmaker and video producer, Steve DeVol is a graduate of the renowned Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Filmmaking in Sedona, where he has resided for many years as a visual artist.

While specializing in commercial video production and documentary video, Steve is also an accomplished photographer, with 45 years of experience in all modalities including black-and-white, color and the photo lab industry.

His work has now evolved into the innovative digital realm, with the Internet providing an exciting new platform for his expertise in digital technology imaging, both in stills and in video.

Steve contributed his exceptional skills to create the “SiCKO in Sedona” testimonial video on behalf of health-care reform.

For a complete bio, go to www.stephendevol.com/bio.html.

E-mail info@stephenDeVol.com.   



DAVID BACON -  http://dbacon.igc.org 

David  Bacon

David Bacon is a Berkeley-based freelance     journalist and photographer whose social justice work regularly appears in many publications such as The American Prospect, ZMagazine, The Nation, In These Times, The Progressive and others. He serves on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Committee of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition and focuses on labor and immigration issues.

David is also an editor for New American Media, whose mission is " to promote the editorial visibility and economic viability of this critical sector of American journalism as a way to build inclusive public discourse in our increasingly diverse, global society."

As a prolific author, he has published several noteworthy books on the socioeconomic and labor issues of our time. These include Communities Without Borders - Images and Voices from the World of Migration and The Children of NAFTA - Labor Wars on the US/Mexico Border. Visit his Web site for more information about his photography exhibits and other events. E-mail dbacon@igc.org.

The Sedona Observer thanks David for his photographs of Michael Moore and CNA/NNOC workers in this issue.




There's a saying that much truth is said in jest, and perhaps no two do it better than Gary Huck and Mike Konopacki. These brilliant cartoonists have graciously donated their hilarious and painfully truthful artwork to The Sedona Observer for the sake of social reform in health care and the workplace. In that, we are eternally grateful, for one cartoon speaks a thousand words.

E-mail huckkono@aol.com.

Gary Huck

Gary Huck, labor cartoonist for the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America, is a native of Racine, Wisc. In the 1970's Gary drew labor cartoons for the longest running labor weekly in the U.S., The Racine Labor. In 1985 Gary was hired by the UE to succeed the great Fred Wright as UE cartoonist.


Mike Konopacki

Mike Konopacki lives in Madison, Wisc. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1974. He began labor cartooning for the Madison Press Connection, a local daily created by striking newspaper workers in 1977. After the paper folded in 1980, Mike began syndicating his labor cartoons through the labor news service, Press Associates, Inc.

In 1983 he and Gary Huck created their own syndication service, Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons. Since that time Gary and Mike have published four collections of labor cartoons: Bye! American, THEM, MAD in USA and Working Class Hero. With writer Alec Dubro, Mike has written and drawn comic books and cartoons about the World Bank, welfare reform, union organizing and the WTO. Mike's video animation appears in the Jeremy Brecher/Tim Costello video "Global Village or Global Pillage."

MARK HURWITT - http://www.hurwittgraphics.com


Mark Hurwitt grew up in an environment that emphasized art, music, literature and politics. He's been drawing for as long as he can remember.

He graduated from the Woodstock Country School in Vermont and received his B.A. from Franconia College in New Hampshire. Mark continued his studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, the University College of Dublin in Ireland and the New Experimental College of Nordenfjord World University in Denmark. He worked as a metal crafter, jeweler and leather crafter.

As staff artist and editorial cartoonist at the Vineyard Gazette, his work won major awards from the New England Press Association in competition with newspapers across the six state region. While living on Martha's Vineyard, Mark also published a very successful and popular 52-page comic book: Martha's Vineyard Comics & Stories.

After moving to New York City in 1990, Mark did computer animation, creating storyboards and digital displays for signage companies and advertising agencies. He also became an artist-in-residence in the New York City school system, teaching drawing and writing skills to grades K through 12. For five years Mark served on the National Board of Directors of the Graphic Artists Guild and was Chairman of the Cartoonists Alliance of New York.

Mark currently works as a freelance illustrator for clients in publishing and advertising, as well as educational, cultural, community, political and labor organizations. He contributes editorial cartoons to several publications and has work in gallery exhibitions and private collections. Mark takes pride in his ability to find creative solutions, work collaboratively and meet tight deadlines.

Mark is also a lecturer and gives a presentation on Woody Guthrie as a political cartoonist in conjunction with the Woody Guthrie Archives. For more information, e-mail mark@hurwittgraphics.com or visit www.woodyguthrie.org.

The Sedona Observer greatly appreciates Mark's powerful cartoon that graces the Op-Ed page.


JOHN NEVILLE/Sustainable Arizona


John Neville, president of Sustainable Arizona, has been involved in sustainable development since the phrase was coined in the late 1980s. The Sedona resident has helped organizations with sustainability systems, business communications and management practices, leadership development and diversity enhancement. His clients have ranged from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

Currently, John is providing sustainable systems consulting and communications services and is a frequent guest speaker. He serves on the leadership team of the Sedona Water Wise Alliance; is a member of the boards of the Sedona Community Foundation and Cornucopia Community Advocates; and is an advisor to the Verde Valley Cultural Diversity Council. He also serves on the board of the Coconino Sustainable Economic Development Initiative and as an advisor to the Sedona Economic Development Task Force.

John facilitated a leadership process for local students and was awarded the Role Model for Youth Award in Minnesota for developing an environmental education program for children. The home he designed in Sedona has received two awards for excellence in sustainable building. His dream companion, Jawn McKinley, can be seen charging around Sedona doing wonderful things for the community. They both were recently recognized by business groups and the city of Sedona for their efforts in fostering sustainability and water conservation.

E-mail jneville@SustainableArizona.org.


LORI RUBENSTEIN - Dare to Transcend!


Author and Personal Life Coach Lori Rubenstein shares excerpts from her inspiring new book Transcending Divorce: A Guide for Personal Growth and Transformation on our Lifestyles page. Based in the Sedona area, Lori uses her background as a successful mediator and divorce attorney to help people deal with the fearful transitions in their lives.

She teaches workshops in Conscious Relationships (also another one of her book titles) and classes in Divorce and Custody as well as Life Makeover. E-mail lori@attorney-coach.com. Visit www.transcendingdivorce.com for more information about her books and many programs.




Carl Weis is an artist, poet, writer and former associate professor of creative arts (Siena College, Loudonville, New York) who now resides in the Village of Oak Creek near Sedona. He is also a founding member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice (www.stj911.org) and a grass-roots organizer at 911 Truth (www.911truth.org).

E-mail cmxarts@aol.com.


         The Sedona Observer

           New Media for the 21st Century

2007 Contributors


Managing Editor

Catherine J. Rourke 

Copy Editor

Catherine J. Rourke

Video Producer

Stephen DeVol

Banner Artist

Joseph Cortese, CorteseDesign@msn.com

Web Master

Suzan Drury/Saltwater Systems




Gary Huck

Mark Hurwitt

Mike Konopacki   


David Bacon

Scott Barnes

Journalists and Writers

John Neville - Environment

Tarri Otterlee - Guest Perspectives

Alan Painter - Opinion

Lori Rubenstein - Lifestyles

Elizabeth Sanders - Health Care

Carl Weis - National Perspectives

Barb Wire - Health Care


The Sedona Observer acknowledges all those individuals and workers who contributed their health-care horror stories for the sake of positive change.

Special thanks to Barbara Hansen of HealthcarePhotos.com for the images on our health-care story pages

Copyright ©2007 The Sedona Observer, All Rights Reserved. Published every other month by First Cold Press, P.O. Box 4005, Sedona, AZ 86340. First Cold Press is a nonprofit, 501C3 organization.


Send inquiries and correspondence to: editor@SedonaObserver.com.


Professional Affiliations

  • Society of Professional Journalists
  • Investigative Reporters and Editors
  • Arizona Press Club
  • Arizona Press Women
  • National Writers Union
  • National Federation of Press Women
  • International Labor Communications Association
  • Cyberjournalist Online News Association
  • Society for New Communications Research