Tucson Citizen done printing
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The Tucson Citizen published its final print edition May 16, but immediately began its new life as an online-only opinion Web site. The new site is powered by WordPress and still in beta phase. This is not what staffers and many followers of the situation wanted, and it only presents more questions, but the paper does at least have some life remaining.
The links to old stories on the old Citizen Web site posted here do still work.
After several extensions from an original March 21 deadline for the paper to either be sold or closed, May 16 ended up being the day the paper ran the front page with the headline, "Our epitaph."
How the Citizen will remain in the future is not clear. The paper's interim editor, Jennifer Boice, wrote May 16 that 65 employees are losing jobs.
• Associated Press: Ariz. AG drops suit opposing closure
The Citizen reported April 10 that Gannett rejected an offer from the Santa Monica Media Corp. to purchase the 139-year-old newspaper, the oldest in Arizona. Gannett has said it is no longer discussing a sale with that company. The newspaper has been for sale since Jan. 16, but Gannett has not offered its share of a joint operating agreement. Gannett had told the paper April 22 it would publish at least through May 9. Gannett informed Boice on May 8, the paper would publish beyond May 9.
Inside Tucson Business reported Gannett said it would give employees at least 48 hours notice if it intends to close the paper so the staff could put out a commemorative final edition. The paper put out a 48-page final edition May 16 that included columns from several members of the staff, highlights of the paper's history and a photo collection showing Tucson over the years.
In its short time on the block, there's been everything from the confirmation of an investigation into the sale process by the U.S. Department of Justice to reports a potential buyer was advertising for sales staff and the Citizen was near executing its plans for a final commemorative edition.
That edition has been delayed a few times as confusion and frustration builds on South Park Avenue. Potential buyers were said to have planned trips to visit the paper only to not show up and employees have been left in the dark recently about their futures.
Gannett has said it's been negotiating with possible buyers since keeping the paper open after an original March 21 deadline to close the 139-year-old newspaper, the oldest in Arizona. Stephen Hadland, CEO of the Santa Monica Media Corp., said despite the rejection, "I still believe the Citizen will ultimately be sold."
• Which expires first? Citizen jobs or system passwords: READ MORE
On March 17, Gannett announced it would continue to publish the paper while negotiating with two potential buyers. This move was predicted the day before in an article by Inside Tucson Business that said the move was in response to the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation. Gannett announced March 20 the Citizen would publish at least through March 27. Then announced March 27 it would continue publishing day-to-day. After that, Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell told the paper "we will tell employees the status of the paper once it's determined." That led to Gannett telling the paper April 22 it would publish at least through May 9, then on May 8 saying the paper's status was again day-to-day.
The Associated Press reported there would be about 20,000 copies of a 24-page edition March 21 that would remain at news racks for a few days. On March 17, the Citizen's interim editor, Boice, told the Arizona Daily Star the plans for that final paper are on hold. "The end that we thought was in sight is no longer in sight," Boice told the Star, Gannett's partner in the Tucson JOA.
• Tucson Citizen: Negotiations continue for possible sale (March 19)
The events follow a string of bad news in the newspaper industry, including bankruptcy filings, closings, layoffs, wage cuts and other moves. Last month, E.W. Scripps Co. closed the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News. That paper's final edition was Feb. 27.
The Citizen's March 17 story listed people interested in buying the paper and speculated who may be involved in any current discussions to purchase the paper.
"The Tucson Citizen has been part of Gannett since 1976, and we deeply regret having to take this step," said Robert J. Dickey, president of Gannett U.S. Community Publishing, according to the story announcing the pending sale published in the Citizen.
The Tuscon Weekly reported Jan. 22 that employees who remain with the paper through the possible closing date would get a severance of one week for each year of employment, up to 26 weeks. The severance is the same that Gannett offered during its December 2008 layoffs. The Weekly wrote about the paper's situation again May 7.
According to the story announcing the sale in the Daily Star, "the Citizen's masthead, Web site, some editorial equipment, its subscriber list, vendor and contractor contacts and wire services" were put up for sale, according to Gannett spokesperson Tara Connell. The story says Gannett's stake in the joint operating agreement was not immediately for sale.
• Inside Tucson Business story (Jan. 23): HERE
• Compilation of online comments from Citizen readers: HERE
• Tucson Newspapers Web site: tucson-newspapers.com
• Gannett profile on the Citizen: HERE
• Tucson Weekly editorial comment: Silencing the 'Citizen'
Tucson Citizen timeline
Oct. 15, 1870: The Arizona Citizen, a weekly newspaper, is founded by John Wasson.
1877: Wasson sells the paper to John Clum.
1879: Clum takes the paper daily and changes the name to the Tucson Daily Citizen.
1879: The Arizona Daily Star begins publication after several years of fits and starts as a weekly.
1880: Clum sells the paper and moves to Tombstone. The Citizen then changes hands numerous times until 1936.
1936: William A. Small Sr. buys the Citizen.
1940: The Citizen enters into a joint operating agreement with the Arizona Daily Star.
1965: Citizen purchases the Star for $10 million to prevent it from falling into the hands of a national newspaper chain. The stated intent is to find a local buyer and sell it as soon as possible.
1966: The U.S. Justice Department sues Citizen Publishing, saying its ownership of the Star violates federal antitrust laws. The Citizen loses and appeals all the way to U.S. Supreme Court.
1969: Supreme Court rules newspaper JOAs are a violation of antitrust laws. The Citizen leads an effort to create an exemption to antitrust laws for newspapers.
1970: Congress passes the Newspaper Preservation Act and President Nixon signs it.
1970: Citizen Publishing sells the Star to St. Louis-based Pulitzer Co. for $10 million.
1976: The Small family sells the Citizen to New York-based Gannett Co. for $30 million in stock.
1977: Gannett changes the paper's name to the Tucson Citizen.
1988: Gannett and Pulitzer renew the JOA for 25 years.
1990: A small revision to the JOA extends its life to 2015.
2005: Lee Enterprises buys Pulitzer Co., takes over ownership of the Star.
Jan. 16, 2009: Gannett announces it will sell or close the Tucson Citizen.
May 16, 2009: The Tucson Citizen publishes final print edition.
• SOURCES: www.tucsoncitizen.com/ss/related/110550 and AP