Arizona Luminaria is thrilled to announce that we are adding coverage by experienced Arizona reporter Yana Kunichoff to give voters in-depth, locally-focused reporting as they decide who to send to the U.S. Senate next year.

The race for Arizona’s senate seat is an area where national news has been drowning out local topics, voices and concerns. We seek to give readers a comprehensive look at the issues that matter most to Arizonans and how the candidates propose to solve them, with a focus on Southern Arizona.

“I’m excited to cover the senate race in a way that closes the gap between big-picture national politics and local concerns that impact people day-to-day,” Yana said.

“In a state like Arizona, that is facing big-picture questions on housing, infrastructure and the future of water access, community engagement in elections can have a big impact on the future of the state,” she said. “By focusing on issues such as voter turnout, disinformation and how past campaign promises line up to action in earlier elections, this beat will aim to inform Arizona residents in a new way.” 

Yana is a reporter and documentary producer currently based in Phoenix where she most recently covered education for the Arizona Republic.

“When I met Yana I was struck by her commitment to truly local journalism that values the needs of our neighbors and communities over any corporate standard set by people outside of Arizona,” said Dianna Náñez, executive editor and co-founder of Luminaria.

Yana also has covered education for Chalkbeat Chicago, worked as a special projects editor for Migratory Notes newsletter, produced a feature-length documentary on the experience of elderly prisoners in Illinois jails and oversaw a team of reporters as an editor at The Moscow Times.

“I became a journalist because of an insatiable curiosity about people, the way the world worked, and a love of reading and writing,” Yana said. “More than a decade into this career, I’ve found that journalism continues to offer me a way to engage in issues that I find important but also challenges many of the ideas I make about how systems work and people’s motivations within them.”

“Journalism allows me to keep learning and asking questions as a practice, and I appreciate that deeply,” she said.

Yana’s investigation into the Chicago police union’s misinformation about fatal police shootings won a March 2016 Sidney Hillman award.

In her free time, you can find Yana climbing rocks and reading books, all preferably outside. 

Dianna, Arizona Luminaria’s executive editor, encourages community members to reach out to Yana for issues you want to know more about as voters decide who to elect as our state’s next U.S. senator.

“We are hearing from more Arizonans who want local news that cares about the most vulnerable among us. Yana has made a career of delivering that exact ethical reporting,” Dianna said. “I hope you are as excited as I am to watch her dig into news stories that unite people with patience, persistence and common ground — something sorely missing from political coverage that has historically divided people along partisan lines.”

Reporting like the deep dives Yana does is important and it takes substantial time and resources. We want to bring Yana onto the team full-time and you can help! Become a sustaining member and directly support her work today.

“Yana shares our understanding at Arizona Luminaria that we need more reporters in our state dedicated to in-depth news that centers the voices of people working to build thriving communities, breaks down complex issues with context and compassion, and is fierce about holding corrupt power to account,” Dianna said. “We are lucky to work with her and hope that Arizona Luminaria readers will help us hire her full-time.”

Please join us in welcoming Yana. You can send her tips and ideas at. or find her on Twitter.

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Irene is an audience development expert and obsessed with reader-first journalism. She is a former Arizona Daily Star editor and was co-founder of #ThisIsTucson and led that team until July 2021. She is...