Some comfort in knowing that what we did at the Citizen mattered
It’s the uncertainty that’s driving me and many other members of the Tucson Citizen staff batty.
Will there be a Tucson Citizen tomorrow? Will somebody buy the paper? How many staff members will the buyer retain? Will the paper the buyer puts out bear any resemblance to the current product? Will we still get our severance pay from Gannett if a new buyer fires us?
And for those among us fortunate enough to have secured other jobs, can we hang on long enough to get our severance pay? Or will this drag on for weeks and months?
The Tucson Citizen, for those who haven’t opened this paper in the past two months, is slated to be closed or sold. At the moment, the paper is operating day to day.
A day-to-day existence is no way to live. It’s demoralizing and exhausting.
But just when I thought I couldn’t take one more moment of it, I received something really special in my e-mail box.
Norma Sykes, a longtime Tucson resident and Tucson Citizen reader, shared her memories of the newspaper with me in an e-mail that arrived Monday afternoon. It reminded how much the Citizen has meant to this community. The newspaper has been a part of Sykes’ life for as long as she can remember and as she puts it, “that’s a loooonggggg time!!”
Sykes wrote the letter shortly after the possible closure of the Citizen was announced in late January. Here is the letter in its entirety:
“As I read the Tucson Citizen this past Saturday, I thought about sharing some of my memories with other faithful readers. The Tucson Citizen has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Bisbee, Ariz., along with 10 brothers and sisters (her maiden name was Manjarres). Our parents had the Citizen delivered back then by a paperboy. This is a hint as to when I was growing up! My dad read the paper every day at the dinner table after eating his meal. Even with such a huge family to support, keeping up with news was apparently very important to him.
“As I entered my teen years I learned that the best time to ask my dad for permission to go somewhere (usually some place I knew he would say no to) was to ask him while he was engrossed in some important article he was reading. He would mumble, “uh, uh” or “yeah.” I would rush to get ready and return to the kitchen to say bye to my parents. He would look up and say: “Where do you think you’re going?” I would say, “You said I could go . . . He would say, “when?” I would respond, “a little while ago, you were reading the paper.” Then he would say, “Don’t ask me for permission when I am reading the paper!!!” But he would not renege on the permission and I would rush out to wherever before he changed his mind.
“Now I will be giving another hint of my age when I say that I, and all my siblings quoted articles we read in the Citizen for our research on varieties of subjects throughout our years of education. This was way before anyone had a computer or the Internet was such an integral part of our lives.
“My father passed away 21 years ago. My mother relocated to Tucson when my youngest sister came to the U of A. She lives in Oro Valley now. A few years ago my mother fell and broke her arm. Unable to be put in a cast, her arm was put into a sling secured to her body, which made it difficult for her to bend over. I called to explain the situation to customer service at the Citizen. From that day on, the delivery person placed her paper in a bag and hung it from the handle of her security door. Mom enjoys reading the paper daily and we often discuss news we’ve read. She also keeps all of us up to date on what is on sale from the Wednesday grocery fliers.
“As I read every paper that I still receive, I often think that it may be the last one. What a sad day that will be for many of us longtime Tucson Citizen subscribers. My best wishes to all the loyal and hard-working staff at the Citizen that have been an integral part of many lives. The loss of the Tucson Citizen will leave a void for many which no other can fill.’”
The Citizen’s future remains uncertain. But for those of us who have been part of its past and present, there is some comfort in knowing that what we did here mattered.
Anne T. Denogean can be reached at email@example.com and 573-4582. Address letters to P.O. Box 26767, Tucson, AZ 85726-6767. Her columns run Tuesdays and Fridays.