The Tucson Citizen's reprieve may be nearing its end.
Gannett has informed those who toil in the afternoon daily's newsroom that the Citizen will maintain its publishing schedule until at least next Saturday, May 9. Beyond that, details are sparse to nonexistent, so that date could mean any of a number of things.
Perhaps Gannett company higher-ups gave Citizen management a place on the calendar to appease ever-increasing concerns about a lack of information; perhaps a sale deal could be close.
Gannett has been in sale talks with David Ganezer, publisher of the Santa Monica Observer. If a sale happens, it will be at a rate far less than what Gannett originally requested when it priced the publication and its limited assets. (Gannett is selling the Citizen name and archives, basically, but wants to keep its ownership in Tucson Newspapers, the agency created by the U.S. Justice Department-approved joint operating agreement with Arizona Daily Star owner Lee Enterprises.) That original asking price, sources tell us, was an amount that no sane buyer would accept.
Gannett's newfound willingness to enter into serious negotiations might have somewhat appeased the Justice Department, which has been investigating the company's sale of the Citizen.
Regardless of the outcome, the Citizen's days as an afternoon daily that employs more than 60 people are near the end. If a new owner comes in, that overhead would be trimmed dramatically, an option slightly better than what would happen if a sale never happens: the paper's closure, barring more government intervention.
Many Citizen employees—who were prepared for the paper to close on March 21, plans which changed thanks to a last-minute reprieve—are already in the transition phase, ready to move on to the next step pending a final outcome.
Reporter Paul Giblin got the news while covering a U.S. Senate hearing in Phoenix on immigration.
Giblin and fellow UA grad Ryan Gabrielson had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their five-part series "Reasonable Doubt," published in Mesa's East Valley Tribune last July.
"It's a terrific feeling. I never imagined I'd win a Pulitzer," Giblin told us. "It's been a terrific feeling since then."
Six months after the feature ran, and three months before the April 20 Pulitzer announcement, Giblin was laid off as part of the newspaper's massive cutback effort, as it changed from a traditional daily to an online publication with free print distribution four days a week (with that being reduced soon to three days a week).
Giblin is now the senior political editor and co-founder of the The Arizona Guardian (www.arizonaguardian.com), an online publication that covers government and politics.
"We have outstanding reporters," Giblin said. "We've been working hard every day since the (state legislative) session opened. We're having some impact. It's going well."
The "Reasonable Doubt" series looked at how an enhanced interest in immigration policies in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office affected the response times on citizen calls.
According to the Pulitzer Committee, the reporters earned the award because of their "adroit use of limited resources to reveal, in print and online, how a popular sheriff's focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crime and other aspects of public safety."
"I am extremely excited for this opportunity," said Gershon in a press release. "I enjoyed my time working with Jim as senior editor, and I feel like I'm ready to run both the editorial and managerial sides of this Web site."
Under Storey's guidance, goazcats.com became a major player in UA athletics coverage, and has broken its share of stories. But with that has come controversy: Storey blurred the line between fandom and journalism (goazcats markets itself as the "Totally Unofficial UofA Fan Site") and was often less than appreciated by members of Tucson's sports-reporting fraternity.
Moreover, he was tournament director of the Arizona Cactus Classic, a showcase for high school basketball players that took place at McKale Center. The event has received significant scrutiny and is among the focal points of an ongoing NCAA investigation into possible improprieties focusing on player benefits. It is possible those allegations could lead to sanctions affecting the UA men's basketball program.
The press release says Storey has relinquished his duties with the Web site to focus on other business endeavors.
Goazcats.com is a direct competitor with wildcatsportsreport.com, an ESPN-affiliated Web site operated by Brad Allis. While I have no direct involvement with wildcatsportsreport.com, I do work with Brad on UA football and basketball pregame and postgame radio broadcasts on KCUB AM 1290.
The economy may be bad, but Arizona Public Media delivered strong numbers during its recent three-station radio and television pledge drive.
Big increases in online donations came to KUAT Channel 6, KUAT FM 90.5 and KUAZ FM 89.1/AM 1550.
Overall, the pledge increases ranged from 16 to 22 percent, which flies in the face of national trends that have shown dips of more than 30 percent in PBS-affiliated actual-dollar donations nationwide.
"This is very good news in this down economy," said Jack Gibson, director and general manager of Arizona Public Media, in a press release.
This is the first year Arizona Public Media has combined its top three stations in a membership drive.