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