Citizen Staff Writer
THE FINAL EDITION
This is it. After 138 years, seven months and one day, this may be the last Tucson Citizen to be published. At press time, our ultimate deadline, this was our last gasp – our final edition. Efforts still are under way to keep the Citizen alive. We’ll let you know if they succeed.
I think I speak for us all and those who came before us when I say it has been an honor to be a part of the community, invited daily into your homes and given the opportunity to tell the news of Tucson.
It was a sad moment to learn the Citizen was worth more to its parent, Gannett Co. Inc., dead than alive.
Monetarily, I suppose that’s so. It costs more to produce, print and distribute this paper than we are contributing in revenue.
Still, the Citizen has worth that is being erased.
There’s the loss of the stories we covered that other news media did not. Also our very existence made our competitors work harder – and be better.
Newspapers don’t just close, they die.
And death is personal.
It is touching how many readers wrote about their attachment to the paper. More than one questioned, “What will I do without my Tucson Citizen?” Whether it was not knowing who Brenda Starr will date next, to the loss of Cal Thomas, to thanking our local columnists for making them think, to appreciating the reporters who dig for stories about our readers, their neighbors and their elected and unelected officials.
Many expressed profound worry about the staff and what we will do – a worry that is warranted.
The industry lost 12,000 jobs last year and this year is looking worse. We are the third major U.S. daily paper to shut down this year.
About 65 talented Citizen staffers are being shot into an economy that is losing rather than creating jobs. The newspaper industry is so distressed that few of us will be reporters, newspaper designers, editors or news photographers again.
It is a tragic loss of talent and enthusiasm.
Some people have expressed unalloyed glee that we are closing. Many of our critics didn’t want us to pursue one of our greatest responsibilities. Editors have repeated the mantra over the 138 years: Make sure you get the other side.
A newspaper will never be perfect; we are a work in progress all day every day. The paper is just the culmination of what we have done at a certain point in time.
Journalism is history written in a hurry. We were created to reflect the news of the day.
Consequently, every paper has errors – a factual error, flawed grammar, a name spelled incorrectly, a wrong phone number. We try, and I think succeed, in minimizing these mistakes. But in the rush of putting out what is essentially a book every day (for 50 cents, not $24.99) they happen.
We correct them and move on to the next book.
Our hard work exists for a day. The previous day’s work becomes cage liner and fish wrap and packing paper.
But the Internet has changed our business.
Stories exist in the ether, to be read days, months, years after they are published.
The Internet opened up a whole new world and a whole new set of readers – far beyond the boundaries of Pima County. Interactivity was quick and conversations about stories flourished online. Sometimes it was ugly.
We and our advertisers didn’t really know how to deal with the medium. Some day someone will figure it out, creating another revolution within the industry.
I’ve had fun. I’ve made mistakes – which were very public. I have done stories and tasks I didn’t want to do; closing the paper I’ve loved is one. I’ve talked with many people and let the world know their tales. I’ve had bosses who helped me along the way – harshly and gently. And I’ve met and worked with many terrific, weird and talented people.
I will never regret being part of this institution, being a part of the news we reported and working with the people here.
The Citizen helped shape Tucson’s past and future.
We’ve dedicated this edition – our final one – to us and those who have worked here before us by celebrating our work.
It’s been a great run. So long and thanks for the memories.