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'Tucson Citizen' To Close Saturday--After 138 Years (Official Dinosaur Media WakeŽ)
Editor & Publisher ^ | March 15, 2009 | Staff

Posted on 03/15/2009 5:55:27 PM PDT by abb

Marshal Wyatt Earp's fabled 1881 shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone was reported this way:

"A day when blood flowed as water, and human life was held as a shuttlecock, a day always to be remembered as witnessing the bloodiest and the deadliest street fight that has ever occurred in this place, or probably in the territory."

For nearly 140 years, the Tucson Citizen has told the stories of Southern Arizona, but on Saturday, March 21, the state's oldest newspaper will tell its last -- its own.

Gannett Co. Inc., the nation's largest newspaper publisher, announced in January it would close the Citizen if it didn't find a buyer for certain assets. Robert J. Dickey, president of Gannett's U.S. Community Publishing, said the paper was losing money and was a drain on Gannett operations.

The Citizen becomes the latest casualty of a newspaper industry struggling to survive despite the tough economy, dwindling advertising revenues and Internet competition. The battle has been especially tough in two-newspaper towns.

E. W. Scripps Co. closed the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News, one of two daily newspapers in Denver, in February. Hearst Corp. has said it will close or sell the San Francisco Chronicle if it can't slash expenses, and has laid out plans to close the Seattle Post-Intelligencer if a buyer isn't found before April.

Four newspaper companies, including the owners of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer, have sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in recent months.

The Citizen, an afternoon newspaper, has struggled for years against the Arizona Daily Star, a 117,000-circulation morning newspaper owned by Lee Enterprises. During the Citizen's heyday in the 1960s, circulation was about 60,000; today, it's 17,000.

Editor Jennifer Boice said the Citizen's closure is a loss for the Star, the community and journalism.

"It's a loss because what we do makes the Star better, the Star makes us better, and because of that, the community gets better information," said Boice, who started at the paper 25 years ago as a business writer. "It's more than the sum of the parts."

The Arizona Citizen was founded on Oct. 15, 1870, by John Wasson, a newspaper man from California, with behind-the-scenes help from Richard McCormick, the territory's governor and later territorial delegate to Congress.

The paper changed ownership several times over the next 100 years until Gannett bought it in 1976, just a few years after a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the Citizen led Congress to pass the Newspaper Preservation Act and new rules for joint-operating agreements for competing newspapers doing business together. Gannett also changed the name to the Tucson Citizen.

During its lifetime, the Citizen reported on Arizona's biggest stories, including the 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral and the 1934 arrest of bank robber John Dillinger and three other gang members hiding out in Tucson.

"It has such a long history," Arizona historian Marshall Trimble said. "That makes it part of Arizona history, and it's just another piece of our history that's going away."

Michael Chihak, the Citizen's former editor and publisher who retired last summer, spent a significant portion of his life with the paper. His grandfather was a pressman at the Citizen in the 1940s. As a boy, Chihak delivered the paper on his bicycle and was a high school stringer. He later became a reporter and editor, working for other news organizations along the way, and returned to the Citizen as its publisher and chief executive in 2000.

"It was more than a career, more than a job, it was part of my life," said Chihak, who is now executive director of a nonprofit foundation in San Francisco.

He said it's heartbreaking to see the demise of the Citizen, and "the loss of all the jobs of the finest journalists I knew."

Newspapers remain at the forefront of gathering and disseminating information, Chihak said, "but obviously the emphasis has shifted to other means of distribution, and of gathering, for that matter."

More than 60 newsroom employees will lose their jobs because of the closure, but Tucson Newspapers Inc., which oversees the Gannett-Lee Enterprises business operations under the JOA, will continue until at least 2015.

Star publisher John Humenik couldn't comment on the Citizen's closure because of pending legal issues related to the JOA, but Lee spokesman Daniel Hayes said, "it's always unfortunate when a community voice is lost."

The final Citizen will be a 24-page commemorative edition delivered on Saturday. About 20,000 copies will be printed and available in news racks for a couple of days.

The Citizen's staff continues to work as hard and as skillfully as ever in its waning days, said Bruce Johnston, who joined the Citizen 36 years ago.

"We're professionals," he said. "We're treating every day like it normally is, even though there's a lot of gallows humor around here."

Except for the stacks of boxes and large trash bins lining the newsroom to catch years' worth of notebooks and paper stacked atop desks, it was business as usual. Reporters continued to call sources, plan coverage and share laughs.

But they also shared tidbits about mostly fruitless job searches, punctuated by sighs and knowing nods as they prepared for their final week at their newspaper -- and for many, likely their final week in the business.

Associate Editor Mark Kimble, a 34-year veteran, said he worries about what closures like the Citizen's mean for the future of journalism.

There are "fewer sets of eyes looking at what government is doing and keeping an eye on the things that I think we all take seriously," Kimble said. "That's very unfortunate."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Arizona
KEYWORDS: advertising; dbm; gannett; newspapers
A Gannett rag. Good news!
1 posted on 03/15/2009 5:55:27 PM PDT by abb
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To: 04-Bravo; aimhigh; andyandval; Arizona Carolyn; backhoe; Bahbah; bert; bilhosty; Birch T. Barlow; ..

ping


2 posted on 03/15/2009 5:55:58 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb
"A day when blood flowed as water, and human life was held as a shuttlecock ...

With writing like that, no wonder they're belly-up. A shuttlecock?

3 posted on 03/15/2009 5:58:17 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("There are more enjoyable ways of going to Hell." ~ St. Bernard)
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To: abb
When my family moved to Tucson in 1969, the Citizen was the Republican paper and the Star (the Red Star) was the liberal rag. The Citizen was always a bit weaker in national news coverage, but did a better job on local news and features than the Star.

In the mid to late 1980s, the Citizen began to dramatically shift 'centerwards', which is to say compete with the Red Star for the lefty audience. Eventually, by 1990 or so there was no way to tell the difference between the editorial stance of the two papers, and since the Star had been doing the liberal thing longer and better, people stopped buying the Citizen.

The online commentary on the Citizen site has been filled with comments like mine, and of course they arrogantly poo-poo it all. Ah well, come next Sunday, I will be employed still, and they will not.

4 posted on 03/15/2009 6:01:38 PM PDT by AzSteven ("War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." Jean Dutourd)
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To: abb
I lived in Tucson in the '60's and 70's, the Citizen was always second fiddle to the Star during that era at least. Sounds like it never got better. It was always the leftier of the two also. No great loss.
5 posted on 03/15/2009 6:01:59 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: abb

The Citizen has been dead since the TNI “two newspapers one office move”. All the best writers were always on the Star because morning papers are more prestigious, the Star had the better comics page, really the only reason there was to buy the Citizen is if you were looking for the movie schedule and the Star was sold out.


6 posted on 03/15/2009 6:02:16 PM PDT by razorboy
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To: abb

A not-so-fond farewell to the lame-stream media.


7 posted on 03/15/2009 6:03:52 PM PDT by wastedyears (April 21st, 2009 - International Iron Maiden Day)
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To: abb

Nelson Muntz saya, “ Ha, ha...”


8 posted on 03/15/2009 6:05:15 PM PDT by waterhill (An armed man has the means for independence.....)
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To: abb; Grampa Dave; Ernest_at_the_Beach; BIGLOOK; Liz

Is is bad form to laugh ?


9 posted on 03/15/2009 6:21:29 PM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: abb

Another Dem paper bites the dust (in AZ, that’s literal).


10 posted on 03/15/2009 6:22:18 PM PDT by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: george76

11 posted on 03/15/2009 6:22:51 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: AzSteven
Too bad the Citizen didn't move to the Right.

I agree with your evaluation. I have lived Tucson since the early 80's and have witnessed the Citizen's morph into the same lame leftist paper as the Red Star. The Star would be wise to give both sides of the local stories.

12 posted on 03/15/2009 6:26:05 PM PDT by Tucson Jim
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To: All
The final Citizen will be a 24-page commemorative edition delivered on Saturday. About 20,000 copies will be printed and available in news racks for a couple of days.


20,000 copies for a commemorative issue, and the population of Pima County (Tucson and it's surrounds) is over 1,000,000

13 posted on 03/15/2009 7:23:03 PM PDT by az_gila (AZ - need less democrats - one Governor down... more to go.)
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To: SandRat

Ping!


14 posted on 03/15/2009 7:44:51 PM PDT by HiJinx (~ Support Our Troops ~ www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil ~)
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To: abb

Well darn! I didn’t have them on my Newspaper Dead Pool list!


15 posted on 03/15/2009 8:36:37 PM PDT by OrangeHoof (YES WE CAN have a Depression.)
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To: abb
Editor Jennifer Boice said the Citizen's closure is a loss for the Star, the community and journalism.

The employees who are talented will find work if they are talented and willing to be objective. I imagine Rupert Murdoch's print and tv divisions would most likely salivate at a chance to get true journalists not corrupted by socialist agenda who are pushing things like "social and economic justice,whatever the hell that means.

16 posted on 03/15/2009 9:54:51 PM PDT by Birch T. Barlow (Go Mariners! Certain 2009 AL West champions!)
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To: abb

I used to deliver that paper as a boy growing up in Tucson!! That and the Star too. It paid for my first car, so although both papers turned into leftist rags (like most dailies), I have some mixed feelings at its demise...


17 posted on 03/15/2009 11:17:14 PM PDT by aquila48
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To: AzSteven

Did the Tucson Citizen endorse Obama?


18 posted on 03/16/2009 5:09:43 AM PDT by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Tax-chick
With writing like that, no wonder they're belly-up. A shuttlecock?

You never knew the badlands were called that because outlaws played so much badminton?

19 posted on 03/16/2009 6:19:32 AM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: MrEdd

LOL - good one! You can just see the Earps going out on a Saturday with their net and raquets, right?


20 posted on 03/16/2009 6:32:35 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("There are more enjoyable ways of going to Hell." ~ St. Bernard)
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To: abb
"human life was held as a shuttlecock ..."


21 posted on 03/16/2009 8:32:13 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (Does Zer0 have any friends, who are not criminals, foriegn/domestic terrorists, or tax evaders?)
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To: abb

The Citizen was still in print? Who knew?


22 posted on 03/16/2009 8:36:04 AM PDT by TenthAmendmentChampion (Be prepared for tough times. FReepmail me to learn about our survival thread!)
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To: Tax-chick

“A day when blood flowed as water, and human life was held as a shuttlecock ...”
Tax Chick said: “With writing like that, no wonder they’re belly-up. A shuttlecock?”
Well that was said back in 1881! Hopefully their writing had improved from that, perhaps until Gannett took over.


23 posted on 03/16/2009 8:37:43 AM PDT by TenthAmendmentChampion (Be prepared for tough times. FReepmail me to learn about our survival thread!)
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To: TenthAmendmentChampion
that was said back in 1881

Yes, I knew that. As to whether their writing improved after that, I couldn't say. Most of their present (soon to be former) employees probably wouldn't recognize a shuttlecock if it landed in their latte.

24 posted on 03/16/2009 8:40:02 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("Even for a thin-skinned solipsistic narcissist, Obama seems a frightful po-faced pill." ~Mark Steyn)
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To: Tucson Jim

My Mom subscribed from 71 until her death. I haven’t paid any attention to either Tucson paper in years. The local news is usually depressing (’another tax initiative passed with strong support to build sidewalks that no one will ever use’ - OK, that last part WASN’T there). The national news is covered better on the Internet.

Sorry, but I think the major media, including the Citizen, have been in bed with the politicians for 30-100 years.

I don’t need them as a watchdog, because they never barked...


25 posted on 03/16/2009 8:48:03 AM PDT by Mr Rogers (Obama - Making Jimmy Carter look like a giant!)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

As far as I recall, they have only endored Dem presidential candidates since Clinton


26 posted on 03/16/2009 6:39:38 PM PDT by AzSteven ("War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." Jean Dutourd)
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