Citizen Staff Report
THE FINAL EDITION
There was always something about the Citizen, something that set us apart.
What it always came down to was a staff that cared – cared about Tucson, cared about each other and cared about doing the best job possible, even as resources dwindled to nothing.
We were the scrappy underdog (hate that phrase), frequently beating the competition on breaking news and in sheer writing talent.
More important, we had heart. We always wanted to do our best, to be the best.
And we had fun. When I was moved to the “Big House” after working in our downtown office for years, I was assigned a desk in what had to be the most fun corner in the universe.
I was surrounded by irreverent, brilliant, funny and sometimes a bit dysfunctional folks. We pulled pranks. We got in trouble. Once we got so rowdy, Art Rotstein of The Associated Press tape-recorded us. We were appalled at our own behavior.
But we did the best journalism of our lives.
It’s hard to imagine Tucson without the Tucson Citizen.
But life will go on. It always does. News will happen. I just hope someone who cares as much as we did is there to cover it.
My four underpaid, overworked years at the Tucson Citizen were, without doubt, among the most joyful of my career. The Citizen taught me how to report, how to write, and to honor the classic Finley Peter Dunn mandate to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
I last lived and worked here in 1985, so the smaller city I knew and the larger newspaper I loved have been gone for a while (though the beer garden at the Shanty is still strangely, wonderfully unchanged after 24 years). The Citizen of that era honored good writing more than most newspapers, thanks in large part to the influence of Dick Vonier. We took on ambitious stories, including an epic series examining the flood of Central American refugees in the ’80s that made Tucson a center for the Sanctuary Movement, and an investigation of flaws in a major child abduction and murder case. For the latter, I was personally gratified to be labeled “Inspector Closeau” by a sputtering County Attorney Steve Neely, who was angered by our findings.
The paper had some memorable foibles. One was the paper’s fondness for publishing animal tales on the front page, a proclivity I once demonstrated by stapling a year’s worth of such stories together end to end, producing a paper chain of doggy heroes and record-breaking snakes and cats that could carry a tune that ran from the break room bulletin board some 39 feet into the hallway. In typical Citizen fashion, another reporter was assigned to write a story about my little project (which I suppose was better than canning me).
The story about animal stories ran, naturally, on the front page.
Former staff member