Arizona’s oldest continuously published newspaper will hit Tucson newsstands and doorsteps for the last time on May 16.
As a longtime reader of the Tucson Citizen, I think I speak for many when I say the paper’s closure will be like saying goodbye to an old, trusted friend.
What a friend it has been. The Citizen already was 11 years old when it told us about Wyatt Earp’s shootout at the OK Corral in 1881. It had been around 42 years when Arizona became a state in 1912. And when the city of Tucson celebrated its bicentennial in 1975, the Citizen had a 105-year record of reporting behind it.
Tucson will be very different without the Citizen. Our community will have one fewer voice, one fewer watchdog, one fewer place to go for the news we need to understand our increasingly complex world.
Many believe that, as an afternoon newspaper, the Citizen’s days have long been numbered. Perhaps, but the loss of the Citizen is emblematic of a far more troubling trend. The entire newspaper industry is struggling as never before, thanks in part to a seismic shift in how we get our news.
Today the Internet, not the daily newspaper, serves as our window to the world.
For news junkies and avid newspaper readers, this is a truly sad turn of events. I count myself among this shrinking community.
Sure, going online is fast and handy. But old school types love newspapers – we love holding them, with a cup of coffee at hand, and learning about what has happened in our neighborhood, city, state and country.
Some of us – the real die-hards – even like comparing competing articles and editorials on the same subject among rival newspapers. Tucson was one of the few cities where this was possible; ours was one of the last two-newspaper towns left in America.
With the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver over the past month, Tucson is by no means alone in having to rely on one newspaper. That, however, is little comfort. Competition is a good thing for newspapers, as it is for any business.
Having two newspapers fostered a competitive spirit that allowed the Tucson Citizen and Arizona Daily Star to bring out the best in each another. Reporters, editors and photographers at each of our papers wanted to scoop the other guy. In that race, readers were the winners.
Since 1870, the Citizen has kept southern Arizonans informed. We didn’t always agree with an editorial position or like the angle of a news story, yet we kept reading.
We needed the Citizen. Sometimes we needed it to figure out a City Council decision. Sometimes we needed it to tell us how the Wildcats did. And sometimes we just needed it to tell us when movies began at The Loft.
The point is, the Citizen was there for us.
From the era of the Butterfield Overland Stage to the Phoenix Mars Mission, the Citizen helped chronicle Arizona’s amazing journey from a rough and tumble territory to the second-fastest growing state in the country.
It was an indispensable part of our community. It educated us, entertained us and inspired us. It will be missed.
Goodbye, dear friend.
Gabrielle Giffords is a member of the U.S. House representing Tucson and southern Arizona.