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Teenage reporter stays on beat in Texas AG impeachment story

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Last weekend, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted of 16 impeachment charges against him. The 10-day trial took place in the Texas Senate. In the Texas newsroom, Sergio Martinez-Beltran watched every minute of it from the Statehouse gallery, and he soon noticed someone else in the gallery with perfect attendance who stuck out among the gaggle of hardened political reporters. Here's Sergio.

SERGIO MARTINEZ-BELTRAN, BYLINE: Listen, the impeachment trial was interesting for us professional political nerds, but at times it could also be tedious with complicated procedural moves and legal slang.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: A motion is considered granted if it receives yea votes.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: So when I saw these teenage boy there every day paying close attention, taking notes, I had to ask why.

VINCENT MAZZARA: Partly for school, partly because my dad is a lawyer on the defense council, partly because it's Texas history, and you know, you want to be part of that.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: And partly because Vincent Mazzara, teenage journalist, was reporting on the trial for his own newspaper.

VINCENT: It's called the Grand Enclave Bugle. Not a lot of people know about it, and it doesn't have an official website.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: He's old-school - print only, written on a typewriter.

VINCENT: It's just a fun thing I do. I was reading a book about a kid who started his own newspaper, so I decided to start a little newspaper for my neighborhood.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: And in case you missed it, he's got a pretty big conflict of interest. His dad is Joseph Mazzara, a lawyer for Attorney General Ken Paxton. But Vincent is 13, so we'll let it slide. He hasn't been to J school yet, and his 20 subscribers probably won't mind.

VINCENT: It's some old ladies, some friends of mine, some friends of my parents, a couple of my relatives.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: And he uses a distributor to deliver the paper.

How old is your distributor?

VINCENT: I believe he's 12.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: The headline on the latest issue of the Grand Enclave Bugle reads "Texas History: The Trial Of The Century." And here's the lead, quote, "these past few weeks have been crazy at the Texas Capitol." He goes on to give a recap of the trial, describing it as, quote, "bumpy from the first witness through last." The paper includes a weather section, a movie review, even a political cartoon featuring a Ukrainian getting smashed by a Russian hammer. Right now, Mazzara's not making any money off the endeavor, but that could change in the future.

VINCENT: If I end up getting more people, it might be, like, one nickel.

MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: A newspaper that costs a nickel in this economy? Sounds like a good deal. For NPR News, I'm Sergio Martinez-Beltran in Austin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sergio Martinez Beltrán