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Note: This story is more than 5 years old.

Az Daily Star lays off 15 percent of newsroom

The newsroom of the Arizona Daily Star became a bit quieter last week, as about 9 staffers were shown the door in the latest round of layoffs that have pushed the reporting crew there to less than half its former strength. The newspaper now lists just 60 newsroom staffers.

The laid-off staffers were told of their fate last Thursday. While there have been rumors that up to 20 staffers may have been let go by the morning daily, TucsonSentinel.com has only confirmed the names of nine from the Star newsroom who were handed walking papers.

Those laid off were:

  • Gabe Armenta, graphic designer
  • Susan Billings, blogger and copy editor
  • Steve Choice, copy editor
  • Chuck Constantino, high school sports reporter
  • David Diaz, page designer
  • Daniel Gaona, high school sports coordinator
  • Tiffany Kjos, copy editor
  • Chyrl Lander, copy editor
  • Nick O'Gara, copy editor

The moves mean cuts in the Star's high school sports team just weeks before the fall prep sports season begins. After the layoffs, there are just seven staffers listed in the sports department.

The layoffs also leave the Star's copy desk with just seven editors.

Among others widely rumored to have laid off last week was a staffer of the newspaper's marketing department.

That section of the operation was decimated in the July 2011 layoffs that saw more than 50 staffers shown the door from across the newspaper, including about 15 from the newsroom.

That spring, the Star reported that it had 418 staffers throughout the operation, including the business and production areas. This year, the Star reported that its workforce had shrunk to 275 overall, including ad sales, subscription and pressroom staff and management, along with the newsroom.

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In addition to layoffs, the Star has quietly reduced its reporting staff by not filling positions as some journalists depart. They have made several hires over the past year or so, adding to their newsroom some talented young reporters.

A week after letting go about 15 percent of its newsroom staff, the Star has yet to report on the cuts.

The layoffs came about two months after Bobbie Jo Buel, the paper's editor, left her post in what she called a "departure ... not retirement."

Star editors didn't respond to requests for comment or to confirm the list of those let go. The Star's newsroom is controlled by Lee Enterprises, an Iowa-based national chain. Profits from the South Park operation are shared between Lee and Gannett Inc., the multi-national chain that is the the former publisher of the Citizen, which was shut down in 2009. Lee also publishes 40-some other newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Quad-City Times and other Midwestern papers. Gannett publishes, among others, USA Today and the Arizona Republic.

The day the press ran to print the final edition of the Tucson Citizen, that paper had about 65 journalists on staff.

Please provide any additions or corrections to the list either in the comments or by email.

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3 comments on this story

Jul 24, 2016, 9:52 pm
-0 +0

I am guessing that the ADS is just going to give up on prep sports. I looked here…


This is the time of year where prep football coverage ramps up. Schedules are released, marquee matchups are hyped and analyzed, and star players are profiled. As you can see, none of that currently exists on the linked page.

Jul 23, 2016, 8:00 am
-0 +4

Lots and lots of adults read the paper to see their kids’ names in it. If HS sports is cut back ... well, what the hell do I know? My old man was only the publisher of a small-town weekly newspaper my whole childhood. We knew names SOLD the rag.

And as far as the copy desk goes, I could empty a red pen on the Star each week circling English usage and factual errors.

Thanks, Dylan, for “breaking” this story….

Jul 22, 2016, 7:47 pm
-0 +2

Gaona? Noooooo!!!!!

No one covered High School Football like the Tucson Citizen. They left BIG shoes to fill in that area. But Gaona, when you consider he was one man with limited help, was doing a phenomenal job covering the local prep football scene. I’d read every one of his prep football stories, word-for-word.

So, what does this mean? Is the ADS just not going to give a shit about prep football any more?

Maybe the Sentinel can offer him a position…

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