“Change is good. You go first.”
Reader reaction to the changes ensconced in the new Tucson Citizen has been swift, specific and wide ranging.
“I absolutely love the way you’ve changed it,” longtime Tucson reader Jim Love said on the telephone Thursday. “It’s just what I’ve wanted.”
Others were, shall we say, less complimentary.
“I opened my old friend, the Tucson Citizen, last night and found it had been butchered,” L.M. Johnson Jr. of Sahuarita wrote in a letter to the editor. “I am sure you had very good reasons for changing the format as you did, but I can’t see where you improved it in the least.”
Indeed, we had good reasons. For one, as noted here and elsewhere, the Citizen’s readership has declined steadily over the years as people turn to alternative sources for information, including any newspaper that is available earlier in the day.
Readership of most U.S. newspapers also has declined, so this isn’t simply a problem in Tucson or with the Citizen. We made the changes to expand readership, especially among groups whose busy lives have not included the habit of reading a newspaper regularly.
That’s what accounts for the quick-reading news summaries on Page 1 and each section front and the specialty sections Monday through Friday on topics such as health and fitness, family and food.
It also accounts for the elimination of some items from the newspaper, such as daily stock listings. We took them out to make room for other features. Running stock listings was a futile exercise, because by the time we got them into print, they were a day old.
These changes are a part of a transition of the Citizen into being a broader information medium with multiple ways of our delivering and your receiving information.
One way is in the core sections of the newspaper. Another is through the Plus sections in a magazine format. A third is our newly designed Web site, for which we are shifting resources to give you up-to-the-minute news and information.
Technology and the continuing need to reach new markets for our readers and advertisers will continue driving us to change and improve.
Most compliments for the new Citizen have centered on the increased emphasis on local news, the quick-read format and the new lifestyle sections.
Most complaints have come over the elimination of weekday stock listings, smaller-sized comics and some dropped features that were part of the daily TV listings.
We won’t return to Monday-Friday stock listings – a weekly stock listings summary will be printed Saturdays. Today it is on Page 3B, but we will work to make comics and TV listings more readable and informative.
We have been asking callers to be patient and take a week or two to get accustomed to changes that we and many others consider improvements in the way we present news and information.
As always, call or e-mail me with questions, complaints and – please – compliments.