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Report: Az Republic may cut 'Valley & State' section

Phx paper to make room for USA Today pages

The Arizona Republic may be poised to tear out a section of its print newspaper to make room for an insert of USA Today stories, the Phoenix Business Journal said Tuesday. An unattributed report said the Republic may axe the section; the paper's publisher said "the result will be an even greater commitment to local news."

Local stories could show up ore frequently in the Republic's A section, Biz Journal's Mike Sunnucks reported.

The Republic's parent company, Gannett Inc. (a partner with Lee Enterprises in the Arizona Daily Star operation and the former publisher of the Tucson Citizen), plans to backstop the flagging circulation of its national USA Today by inserting that paper into local print products. The company's internal code name for the plan is the "Butterfly Project," a topic of much coverage by Jim Hopkins of GannettBlog.

The Republic's "Valley & State" B section is the home of the paper's local, state, and business news.

From the Biz Journal report:

John Zidich, the Republic's publisher and President and CEO of Republic Media, said changes are being considered, but pledged more local news coverage.

"It's way too early to share the outcome of the major investment the company and Phoenix are making in our products, including print," Zidich said. "The result will be an even greater commitment to local news. Much more, not less."

Zidich said "plans are still in development, prototype and testing".

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The Republic has been through several recent shakeups to its local news coverage operations. Those include cutting opinion pages in local community sections and laying off some newsroom workers related to that content.

The daily newspaper is also eliminating suburban bureau offices, telling reporters to work remotely and at Starbucks and other shops with wireless Internet connections.

In addition to the Republic and USA Today, Virginia-based Gannett owns a chain of 80 other daily newspapers and 23 TV stations across the United States, as well as a chain of newspapers in the United Kingdom.

GannettBlog's Hopkins reported in December that the Butterfly Project will molt at first 35 and then all of the company's newspapers. A Gannett spokesman waffled on a New York Times question on whether subscribers will have to pay more when USA Today is rolled into their paper, saying "As we introduce enhanced products, consumers tell us they are willing to pay for the added value we’re bringing them."

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