'EXPLORER' ENDURES ANOTHER ROUND OF LAYOFFS
The phrase "bare bones" might not do the Explorer justice.
The weekly publication, which covers Marana, Oro Valley and Northwest Tucson, cut more employees at the beginning of the month, including managing editor Ty Bowers.
"My position was 'absorbed,' I was told. It's like what a lot of journalists are going through," said Bowers. "I started at the paper in May of '06. I was hired under Mark Evans under previous ownership. I've worked with a lot of staff and a lot of editors. The wild ride has ended.
"When I came out here, the paper I had been working for (previously) was in the process of being sold, dismantled and merged into other operations, so for the last four years, my experience in journalism has been a lot of upheaval, sales, layoffs and consolidations, and turnover. Stability was never there."
Bowers and features editor Laura Marble were the latest to lose their jobs as part of a consistent downsizing effort put into effect since the paper was purchased by Randy Miller of Thirteenth Street Media in late 2007.
"We had an editor, myself, a Marana reporter, a photographer—eight people at the newspaper (on the editorial side). Now it's down to two, plus the editor/publisher," Bowers said. "I'm not a businessman. I didn't have direct knowledge of the financial issues the new owners had when they took it over. I'll be honest about that. As an editorial guy, I'm always going to want as big of a staff as I can get. The ownership has to make it work for them. I understand that. My position loses out in that argument."
It's the reporting aspect of the business that loses out in the end.
"It's kind of scary. The media industry needs the (journalism/reporting) model to work," said Bowers, who, like many reporters, may have to look for employment in another profession. "We've got to find a way to support good journalism. It is important. When there are less of us, we can only do so much in these newsrooms. There's stuff (news and stories) we miss, regrettably, that we wish we could get, and you always worry about missing the wrong thing and leaving the readers in the dark. It's a challenge with diminished resources. There are a few good folks still here doing good work, and I'm going to miss working with them like I miss working with the people who were let go previously. It's tough. Nothing about it is good.
"Us editorial guys, we always want more than what we have. While I could do some stories, there's no substitute for someone covering a beat. On the one hand, when you're faced with tough choices, you should always make sure you have enough Indians (reporters). Chiefs (managers) are optional.
"The guy who bought (the Explorer) spent a lot of money, and he needs to not go broke himself. It's a balancing act. I was just asked to get off the seesaw."