Citizen Staff Writer
ROGELIO YUBETA OLIVAS
I’m either in love with or co-dependent on the Tucson Citizen. It’s hard to know the difference.
After leaving twice to work at bigger newspapers, I returned within three months to the Citizen. I just couldn’t stay away.
At the other papers, I felt like just another cog in the machine, someone whose name the publisher didn’t even know. Departments didn’t even mingle with one another.
They were so different from the Citizen, where everyone knew one another and where the editors and employees made staffers feel like family.
That feeling of family is what’s helping many of us get through this wrenching time – but it’s also what’s causing the most heartache, because we’re losing loved ones.
Fellow employee Gabrielle Fimbres described it best. When she found out that Gannett was selling the Citizen, she said she felt as if she had just unexpectedly been served with divorce papers from someone whom she still adored but who didn’t love her back.
The situation’s been tough. Many of us can’t sleep at night and we’re deeply worried about finding work in this troubled economy. Like many Americans, we’re afraid of not being able to provide for our families and of losing our homes.
We’re desperate for jobs. Many of my fellow employees are applying for positions for which they are way overqualified, which is a shame because they are so talented and good at what they do.
It’s unfortunate that they just can’t work for our competition, The Arizona Daily Star, whose employees also are insecure about their future in this Internet-cable TV age where newspapers are becoming a dying breed.
With the closing of the Citizen, some journalists and readers have lamented the loss of a second source for local news coverage in Tucson. But readers also will miss out on having two distinct (and often opposing) voices covering entertainment in the Old Pueblo. No more dual reviews of movies, restaurants, books and plays, which disappoints me because our critics were always fair, objective, knowledgeable and just as good (if not better) than the competition’s.
Like many of my colleagues, I have no idea what I’m going to do next. Journalism is all I’ve known since graduating from the University of Arizona in 1985 and working at papers in Yuma, Phoenix, New York City and here.
But I’m glad I have interim editor-publisher Jennifer Boice and associate editor Mark Kimble to help shepherd me and my co-workers through this trying time. Jennifer, who’s been at the paper for 25 years, truly is one of us and cares deeply about our welfare. When she cries with us, her tears are genuine and heartfelt.
I’ll never forget Mark because when I started working here in the early 1990s, he encouraged me to ask for a raise. Without me even asking him, Mark accompanied me to the publisher’ office and argued my case. I got my raise that week. Thank you, Mr. Kimble.
As I wind down my career at the newspaper, I find myself working 12-to-14-hour days instead of the usual 8 to 10. I tell myself it’s because I have lots more work to do. But deep down I know it’s because I want to spend as much time as possible with my Citizen family in our home. After 18 years (off an on) as a copy editor, page designer, reporter and entertainment editor, I dread my third departure from the Tucson Citizen on May 15 – because this time I can’t come back.
Stupidest headline I ever wrote
“Man drowns to death” – almost as bad as saying someone was murdered to death.
The two words on the police scanner that always drew a collective groan from the newsroom
What I always wanted to tell callers complaining about a missing Jumble or astrology listing:
Get a life!
The life lesson I will take with me
Never let a boss abuse you emotionally. I did – but I never will again. To others in the same situation, no job is worth your dignity. Call the abuser on his behavior, or quit. You’ll be a stronger person for it.
What I’ll miss most
• Interacting with readers and the thrill of discovering new music talents and sharing them with others.
• Working with our great Features staff, including the incomparable Chuck Graham, whose stuff I began reading (and enjoying) when I was in junior high; the wacky Dan Buckley, who always brought a smile to my face; the always hip Polly Higgins, who schooled me on pop culture; the irascibly charming Larry Cox, my partner in snark; Kristina Dunham, who made all our stories come to life with her dazzling page design; our super talented young writer Otto Ross, who restored my faith in today’s youth; and my right-hand gal, Elsa Barrett, who always had my back.
What I won’t miss
• Whiners who say there’s nothing to do in Tucson. Bull! The Old Pueblo has plenty of options for fun. You just need to open your mind, get off your lazy butt and explore the city.
• The cowardly online posters who hide behind a cloak of anonymity to spew their bile and link all the woes of the world to illegal immigration. What will you do without us?
Future career options
Telenovela writing school; Tiger Beat intern; plus-size model