Tucson Citizen newspaper up for sale, will close if no buyer is found

By Nick R. Martin | January 16th, 2009 | 4:36 pm | 16 Comments »

Tucson Citizen

In another dire development for Arizona journalism, the Gannett Company announced this afternoon it was putting the Tucson Citizen newspaper up for sale and will shut it down if no buyer is found. This follows word from earlier in the week that employees nationwide of the mega publishing company would be forced to take a one-week unpaid vacation before the end of March to cut costs, a move that affected some 3,000 employees in Arizona alone.

Citizen interim editor Jennifer Boice told HEAT CITY that staffers at the Tucson paper were “a little stunned” at the news. “This is something we were not expecting,” she said. Boice also said that Gannett’s newspaper chief, Bob Dickey, flew in from company headquarters in Virginia to make the announcement in person this afternoon. “To give Gannett credit and Bob Dickey credit…it wasn’t done via memo or e-mail,” she said.

The Citizen, which was founded in 1870, has declined significantly in circulation in recent years, averaging fewer than 20,000 subscribers a day, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. It is also one of the few newspapers in the nation that still publishes as an afternoon daily.

The Citizen has been in a joint operating agreement with
the larger Arizona Daily Star since 1940. As part of the agreement,
both newspapers have their own newsrooms, but share printing,
distribution and ad sales.

“Essentially, Bob was saying it was the economic conditions,” Boice said. “The Citizen is continuing to shrink as a publication, and its contribution to the JOA was becoming a drag on earnings.”

In a news release about the announcement, just posted to Gannett’s website,
the company said it is giving the paper a March 21 deadline to find a
buyer. If one is not found, the newspaper will cease to exist.

“We deeply regret having to take this step,” Dickey said in the
release. “We applaud the hard work and ongoing efforts of our employees
at the newspaper. Their dedication to journalism and to the community
of Tucson deserves the highest praise. We hope for a quick and positive
response to this offer.”

Should you have deep pockets and the desire to keep a
138-year-old paper afloat, the company said you can contact Robert J.
Broadwater, managing director of Broadwater & Associates LLC, at
(914) 961-5700 or broadwater@broadwaterllc.com.

It is still unclear whether employees of the Citizen will still have to take part in the unpaid furlough.


  • Brian

    I understand that as a newspaper journalist your angst at the current state of print media. However, I am interested to know what arguments there are for news papers to continue to exist.

    They are no longer the best means of distributing news and I suspect that news paper employees are feeling much the way stage coach drivers must have after the invention of the automobile.

  • Brian

    I understand that as a newspaper journalist your angst at the current state of print media. However, I am interested to know what arguments there are for news papers to continue to exist.

    They are no longer the best means of distributing news and I suspect that news paper employees are feeling much the way stage coach drivers must have after the invention of the automobile.

  • http://www.heatcity.org Nick R. Martin

    Well, I’ll tell you Brian, as a 100% digijournalist at this point in my career, I’m angsty about media as a whole. It’s not just print that’s dying. TV is laying people off. So is the internet. Politicker.com and the Center for Independent Media recently closed news bureaus nationwide. Even Google is cutting dozens of workers.

    You’re right that print distribution is ancient, but the news-gathering operations that those newspapers support is still vital. it’s important to be able to pay people to do the kind of in-depth reporting that keeps government and corporations in check. Journalism isn’t perfect, but what we have now is better than nothing.

    Some of us are trying to find ways to sustain the industry. It’s tough, though. And we need your support.

  • http://www.heatcity.org Nick R. Martin

    Well, I'll tell you Brian, as a 100% digijournalist at this point in my career, I'm angsty about media as a whole. It's not just print that's dying. TV is laying people off. So is the internet. Politicker.com and the Center for Independent Media recently closed news bureaus nationwide. Even Google is cutting dozens of workers.

    You're right that print distribution is ancient, but the news-gathering operations that those newspapers support is still vital. it's important to be able to pay people to do the kind of in-depth reporting that keeps government and corporations in check. Journalism isn't perfect, but what we have now is better than nothing.

    Some of us are trying to find ways to sustain the industry. It's tough, though. And we need your support.

  • Alphonse

    Brian, the argument isn’t whether print media should exist. The argument is, when print media ceases to employ reporters, whether journalism still exists.

    Almost all serious reporting comes from print. Reporters in other media pick up the paper and re-report the stories on the front page. Print is the only media with reporters who have the skills, and the economic incentives and resources to investigate government. Print as a medium may be doomed, but as far as print reporters — these “stage coach drivers” are the only ones who know how to drive cars.

  • Alphonse

    Brian, the argument isn't whether print media should exist. The argument is, when print media ceases to employ reporters, whether journalism still exists.

    Almost all serious reporting comes from print. Reporters in other media pick up the paper and re-report the stories on the front page. Print is the only media with reporters who have the skills, and the economic incentives and resources to investigate government. Print as a medium may be doomed, but as far as print reporters — these “stage coach drivers” are the only ones who know how to drive cars.

  • Patrick

    Brian,
    A lot of folks these days think the newspaper isn’t long for this world. They may be right. But I would suggest that people take a serious look at the so-called “new media,” blogs, twitter and the like.

    The fact remains that the vast majority of practitioners of new media rely heavily on print journalism for their content. Most of this new media, with some exceptions, does little more than link to and comment on the news as found in, that’s right, print media.

    So your stage coach analogy doesn’t fit today’s reality. Automobiles succeeded the horse and buggy because they were faster, more practical and simply better. New media is none of these things to print. In fact, new media (and to a great extent broadcast journalism) largely would not exist were it not for print journalists doing the hard work of reporting and writing stories for bloggers to ruminate over.

  • Patrick

    Brian,
    A lot of folks these days think the newspaper isn’t long for this world. They may be right. But I would suggest that people take a serious look at the so-called “new media,” blogs, twitter and the like.

    The fact remains that the vast majority of practitioners of new media rely heavily on print journalism for their content. Most of this new media, with some exceptions, does little more than link to and comment on the news as found in, that’s right, print media.

    So your stage coach analogy doesn’t fit today’s reality. Automobiles succeeded the horse and buggy because they were faster, more practical and simply better. New media is none of these things to print. In fact, new media (and to a great extent broadcast journalism) largely would not exist were it not for print journalists doing the hard work of reporting and writing stories for bloggers to ruminate over.

  • Phogg

    Did “Journalism” exist before steam powered presses created the newspaper industry at the beginning of the nineteenth century? – Of course. And they will outlast it.

    “Journalism” professionals STILL can not Identify their competition.

    If you have an automotive engineer who writes an insightful three page description of an engine his team is developing every three years, that used to not be a problem. Even though it was just as well written as someone with a journalism or English degree might write.

    It was one article every three years that only the man’s friends were likely to see. If they shared it, well a few xerox copies mailed around still don’t reach that many people even if it pyramids out seven times and by the time the last group gets it it will be a month later if they were being mailed.

    Fast foreword to now.

    There are thousands of engineers. Every 1095 of them writing once every three years equal one story a day. Written, generally, for free. As in costs no money. As in they are writing for their own vanity.

    And on the web, writing in interest forums, or having those forums available as a place their friends might send the article – it will be seen.

    Extend this out to other interests, because it carries over across the board.

    Journalists keep looking at the picture trying to figure out how content producers are going to be paid in the new media.

    The stopper is that they have to compete with people who write about any given subject as well or better than they possibly can WHO DON’T EXPECT TO BE PAID.

    When the internet arrived and provided a means for people to disseminate their writings, this became inevitable. I saw it, Drudge saw it, hundreds and hundreds of people saw and have been discussing it for over a decade.

    The dinosaur media is late to the party.

  • Phogg

    Did “Journalism” exist before steam powered presses created the newspaper industry at the beginning of the nineteenth century? – Of course. And they will outlast it.

    “Journalism” professionals STILL can not Identify their competition.

    If you have an automotive engineer who writes an insightful three page description of an engine his team is developing every three years, that used to not be a problem. Even though it was just as well written as someone with a journalism or English degree might write.

    It was one article every three years that only the man's friends were likely to see. If they shared it, well a few xerox copies mailed around still don't reach that many people even if it pyramids out seven times and by the time the last group gets it it will be a month later if they were being mailed.

    Fast foreword to now.

    There are thousands of engineers. Every 1095 of them writing once every three years equal one story a day. Written, generally, for free. As in costs no money. As in they are writing for their own vanity.

    And on the web, writing in interest forums, or having those forums available as a place their friends might send the article – it will be seen.

    Extend this out to other interests, because it carries over across the board.

    Journalists keep looking at the picture trying to figure out how content producers are going to be paid in the new media.

    The stopper is that they have to compete with people who write about any given subject as well or better than they possibly can WHO DON'T EXPECT TO BE PAID.

    When the internet arrived and provided a means for people to disseminate their writings, this became inevitable. I saw it, Drudge saw it, hundreds and hundreds of people saw and have been discussing it for over a decade.

    The dinosaur media is late to the party.

  • AJ Flick

    Jennifer Boice announced on Jan. 14 that because of the JOA, the Citizen was not asked to furlough workers for a week. (I’m a soon-to-be-ex-Citizen staffer.)

  • AJ Flick

    Jennifer Boice announced on Jan. 14 that because of the JOA, the Citizen was not asked to furlough workers for a week. (I'm a soon-to-be-ex-Citizen staffer.)

  • Patrick

    Phogg,
    What are you talking about?
    Is the future of the news a bunch of parochial interests periodically writing about themselves? How does that serve the people of Tucson or any other city that lost a vital news source?
    Do you suppose a bunch of bloggers plan to go to city council, boards of supervisors’ and school board meetings, call a bunch of people for interviews, write a story or two and then post it online for free without ever getting paid?
    Print might be a dinosaur, but I don’t see any of the new media technocrats stepping away from their laptops for long enough to actually go to a meeting, cover a story, knock on doors or interview anyone. Perhaps “parasite media” better describes the “new media” because despite all their self-serving prophecies, they wouldn’t have anything to write about if print died.
    About Drudge, it’s a good thing the AP is still around, if not, he wouldn’t exist. Take a look, not a word of original content there.
    Some future.

  • Patrick

    Phogg,
    What are you talking about?
    Is the future of the news a bunch of parochial interests periodically writing about themselves? How does that serve the people of Tucson or any other city that lost a vital news source?
    Do you suppose a bunch of bloggers plan to go to city council, boards of supervisors’ and school board meetings, call a bunch of people for interviews, write a story or two and then post it online for free without ever getting paid?
    Print might be a dinosaur, but I don’t see any of the new media technocrats stepping away from their laptops for long enough to actually go to a meeting, cover a story, knock on doors or interview anyone. Perhaps “parasite media” better describes the “new media” because despite all their self-serving prophecies, they wouldn’t have anything to write about if print died.
    About Drudge, it’s a good thing the AP is still around, if not, he wouldn’t exist. Take a look, not a word of original content there.
    Some future.

  • Anonymous

    This is indeed sad news for Tucson employees but for other people that are loyal to the newspaper. It seems that the global crisis affects more and more people and even newspapers. I really hope for the best and hope that the newspaper will find a buyer which can save the entire business.
    _______________________________________________
    Tucson Homes for Sale

  • HouseMaster

    This is indeed sad news for Tucson employees but for other people that are loyal to the newspaper. It seems that the global crisis affects more and more people and even newspapers. I really hope for the best and hope that the newspaper will find a buyer which can save the entire business.
    _______________________________________________
    Tucson Homes for Sale