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Three years gone: RIP Tucson Citizen

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From the editor

Three years gone: RIP Tucson Citizen

  • The end of the last press run of the Tucson Citizen, for the final edition, May 16, 2009
    Dylan SmithThe end of the last press run of the Tucson Citizen, for the final edition, May 16, 2009

I've got one of those calendars atop my monitor, the type you find in banks, with metal tiles for the days of the week, dates and month.

One side I keep up to date. The other, no matter the date, says "Fri May 15."

That's the last day the newsroom of the Tucson Citizen was filled with hustle and bustle, the last time the talented crew of reporters and photograpers and editors there took stock of their city.

The last time a story was keyed in, a printing plate was burned, the last time a press rolled the nameplate "Tucson Citizen" onto newsprint was for the final edition, which hit the streets for Saturday, May 16, 2009.

Saturday, Oct. 15, 1870 through to that evening in 2009, when the Gannett newspaper chain pulled the plug.

It was a hell of a run, and I value every moment I spent there, in my short time in that newsroom, with those great journalists and a legacy of over a century of fine reporting.

I'm proud I had the opportunity—and responsibility—of working on a daily newspaper; they're probably not long for this world.

Ironically, on the night when the press was to roll to a stop for the last time for the Citizen, a pagination error forced Editor Jennifer Boice to yell "Stop the press!" as she waved a sheaf of newsprint in her hand.

She, and so many others at the Citizen, dedicated a career to a great newspaper.

Technology marches on, but quality always finds its home. I hope our work at—with the support and contributions of a number of my former colleagues—in some way honors the memory of the great reporters who told our city's stories in the past.

In many ways, running a news website is a constant search for the latest: the latest breaking story, the latest bit of technology. Despite my family's long heritage in print journalism, I'm a firm believer in the power of the Internet to inform and inspire like no other medium for reporting.

But the news is a ceaseless pluralization, and not a business always given to reflection.

Tonight, I'm taking a moment for a slow look back. Pulling out a copy of the final edition of the Citizen, the one banner headlined "Our epitaph," and raising a glass to the past.

To my colleagues there, to those who came before us, to those laid off as Gannett and Lee Enterprises and the other chains slash their newsrooms, and to all of those who've watched presses grind to a halt at other newspapers around the country, I offer a much-deserved "thank you."

I'll toast the future tomorrow. Tonight, I'm getting my fingers inky.

Editor's note

This column was first published last year, on the second anniversary of the Tucson Citizen's shutdown.

The year since has seen more slashing of staff by the morning daily (including 52 laid off last July), the closing of one local television newsroom, a $37 million payout for a retiring Gannett exec, a bankruptcy reorganization for the chain that runs the Daily Star, and a continuing slide in newspaper circulation.

What's the future hold? We're confident that local focus and local control are key to a healthy news organization. is run by Tucsonans, reports on Southern Arizona, and is funded mainly by readers just like you. Help us fix the news business as we're breaking stories — make a donation today.

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