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Fox 11 to lay off news staff, cancel newscast in Feb.

Tucson's Fox affiliate, KMSB Channel 11, told employees Tuesday morning that it will lay off its entire news team and cancel its local news broadcasts in February, sources said Tuesday.

Some 40-50 staffers will lose their jobs, including reporters, engineers and other station personnel, sources said.

The station will contract with KOLD, the local CBS station, to produce local news broadcasts, employees said they were told.

KOLD will produce a 7-9 a.m. morning show, in addition to the current 9 p.m. news cast, for broadcast on KMSB. KOLD will also take over operation of KMSB's website.

The move will be effective Feb. 1, said a source, who requested anonymity.

"It's horrible," said the employee, who learned of the news at a Tuesday morning staff meeting.

"The bottom line is we were hoping to expand and add a morning newscast," the source said. "This is the worst-cast scenario."

"Running an operation like that is not cheap," another said. "Even though we're the smallest news department in Tucson."

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KMSB employees declined to comment on the record about the cancellation of the newscast. One staffer had yet to hear the news when contacted by TucsonSentinel.com.

KMSB management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some KMSB staffers were laid off from other media organizations, including the Tucson Citizen and more recently Journal Broadcast Group.

The newscast's end adds to the significant number of Tucson journalists who have lost their jobs working for out-of-town corporate owners. In July, the Arizona Daily Star fired 52 reporters, editors, production personnel and other staffers.

"The media business is in an interesting stretch right now," one KMSB staffer said ironically.

Some staffers may be offered jobs with KOLD to work on that station's newscast, employees were told.

Others may be able to transfer within the Dallas-based Belo television chain, which operates 20 TV stations around the country. Those who are laid off will be given a severance package that includes 6 weeks' pay, sources said.

While Belo will maintain an advertising sales staff, all news reporting and production staffers will work for Raycom, KOLD's parent company.

The KMSB building at 1855 N. 6th Ave. is owned by Belo.

"The building will likely be sold or leased. It will be empty in a matter of months," one about-to-be laid-off employee said.

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Employees were told that a lack of advertising revenue led to the newscast cancellation.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 19 »

Nov 26, 2011, 2:46 pm
-0 +5

OK, you want proof that the ADS is blatantly biased and/or incompetent? Look at today’s editorial (the part they actually admit is an editorial anyway) about how Tucson’s city election system works well.

Are you kidding me?

Anyway, the ADS apologists would have a VERY hard time defending that one…

Nov 23, 2011, 2:33 pm
-0 +4

All right, Luke…

First paragraph, you got me. My head was more focused on local elections when I made that statement. Well played.

Second paragraph, you don’t know what you’re talking about. In a race with no Repub, something like 15k ballots left that race blank, and two-thirds of the vote went to a Green party candidate (probably the only time in history that’s ever happened would be my guess). To me, that says she’s the least popular, not the other way around. To be fair, I will say I believe that Romero is most popular with the reconquistadors and open-borders crowd.

Have you heard Romero speak? Ummmm….Ummmmm…Ummmmm…I was thinking of making a drinking game where we all take a shot every time Romero says “Ummmmmm”, but we’d all be dead from alcohol poisoning in about eight minutes if we did that.

The right thing for the Star to do with the Ward 1 race would have been to say that they were unable to endorse a candidate for the Ward 1 race. But, how often does the Star do the right thing?

Your third paragraph suggests that we’re in agreement on the most part. You and I just found a different way to say the same thing…with one exception. The news department does indeed have a hard-left political bent. They refer to SB1070 as an “immigration law”, they refuse to use the term “illegal alien”, preferring “undocumented crosser” or something to that effect, and they have taken the lead with Giffords’ reelection campaign by reporting her and her creepy husband’s every little step.

As to your fourth paragraph…I really, really, really hope it was all sarcasm, because it was WAY off is so many ways…

Since we’re discussing local media, I’ll throw in this for food for thought…the man with the single easiest job in this entire town is Jon Justice. He makes a living pointing out the mistakes and blunders made by the mayor and council. The mayor and council give Justice so much to work with on a silver platter that, not only does Justice not have to really research anything, but he probably throws away more than he keeps. The ultimate irony is that the people who hate Justice the most keep reelecting the incumbents that keep him employed and thriving.

Nov 23, 2011, 10:52 am
-0 +4

First of all, Bret, as recently as last year the Star endorsed Republicans John McCain, Ken Bennett, Doug Ducey, Vic Williams and Pat Kilburn.  They also endorsed a Green, Kent Solberg.  (And that was just 2010!  They’ve endorsed plenty of Republicans in prior races too.)

As for your bit about Regina Romero, only two candidates ran in that race.  Are you saying the Green Party’s Beryl Baker would have been better?  (Have you heard her speak?)  Romero is the most popular member of the Tucson City Council by far, and has had the votes to prove it both times she’s run.  She didn’t just beat her Green Party opponent, she got more votes than any other candidate in the city.  More than Rothschild, more than Cunningham.  Explain that.

As for the Star, I think it’s worth pointing out that people often, and incorrectly, take the political bent of a newspaper’s editorial page to define the political bent of its news department.  Editorial page content, as a general rule, reflects the distribution of voter registration across any newspaper’s area of circulation.  The Star’s tendency to endorse Democrats is basically a function of Pima County’s voters being mostly Democrats.  And that’s true of newspapers in most places.

As for the Star’s reporting of local news, they take a hardline pro-business, pro-growth, pro-sprawl approach.  It’s what their advertisers, the largest of which are from real estate, automotive and chain retail sectors, want.  The Star attacks the City of Tucson, tries to make it look bad, treats the leaders that stand up for its citizens’ interests the worst, and those who try to undermine it the best.  That’s not necessarily a pro-Republican bias, it’s just a bias toward its advertisers, who want as much growth as possible, citizens be dammed.

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