Friday, Nov. 6, will mark the last day of work for the Arizona Daily Star employees who volunteered to participate in the newspaper's hastily composed buyout.
Eligible employees (reporters did not qualify) were scheduled to go through the exit-interview process this week. The Star announced the plan early last week via a memo from publisher John Humenik. According to the memo, if the paper is unable to reach the desired amount of participants, a round of layoffs could loom.
It could be worse; in unrelated news, on Monday, Nov. 2, Mesa's East Valley Tribune announced it would close before the end of the year. More on that next week.
The Tucson-Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce has launched a monthly newspaper focusing on the region's African-American population.
Vanguard debuted last month, and its second edition was scheduled for release this week.
"The genesis of the project is to communicate issues, ideas and thoughts for the black community without the sometimes-filtered information that comes from the mainstream media," said Clarence Boykins, the newspaper's publisher and the chamber's president. "We can tell our story, our culture, our way of thinking. We're so scattered out—there's no predominantly African-American community, (and) we live in pretty much every neighborhood in this city—so it makes it pretty difficult in communicating programs, issues on education (and) the specifics and details on crime that are central to our community. ... Vanguard is able to do that, to make sure our community is informed."
Boykins sees the endeavor as an opportunity to delve deeper than the mainstream press does.
"The media will talk about education, for instance, and they'll talk about the dropout rates and suspension rates of minority kids, but in some cases, (the coverage) won't get into the depths as to why those problems exist," Boykins said.
Vanguard is operating with a volunteer staff at the moment, but the newspaper has many of the same components as one would see in a traditional community newspaper.
"They have a particular passion in the area of education, business, food (and) entertainment," Boykins said of his writing staff. "It's not our goal to replace anything as much as it is our desire to add to it. We have 3.4 percent of the population (locally), and we want to be ahead of the curve rather than behind it."
Boykins would eventually like to see Vanguard hit the streets with more than a monthly frequency. He also wouldn't mind handing over the reins as the project picks up steam.
"I've reached the point in my life where I thought I might be hanging out at McDonald's, drinking coffee and complaining about what's wrong with the world. I'm not there yet," Boykins said. "So we're looking at a monthly thing, and then after we're certain we have it working as smoothly as we want, twice a month, and then I'm hoping some energetic young person will come along and say, 'You know, this should be a weekly.' And I'll say, 'OK, if you need me, check out McDonald's. That's where I'll be sitting.'"
Vanguard is free and available at locations throughout Tucson and in parts of Sierra Vista and Sahuarita.
"We're supported by advertising," Boykins said. "We don't want people who don't always have 50 cents or a quarter to buy a paper, and I don't want them to have to make that decision (over whether or not to buy the paper). I want them to be able to read it and have it. As long as we possibly can, I want it to be free. So far, so good."
More information on Vanguard is available at the publication's Web site, vanguardnewsaz.com.
KMSB Channel 11 has added Cuyler Diggs to its weekend news lineup. Diggs, who recently worked in an occasional freelance weather capacity for KOLD Channel 13, will handle the 9 p.m. weather reports Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
"It's a good situation for me," Diggs said. "It's what I like to do, and it gets me on the air on a regular basis, but still allows me the free time to run my marketing business. ... We've been having success with that. It keeps us busy. I still like being on the air, too."
Diggs is a professional pilot with a degree in aerospace. He also possesses a National Weather Association Broadcast Seal of Approval. His 13-year broadcast career has included stints in Arkansas and Wyoming.
"The television thing is a neat deal, and it's worked out well," Diggs said. "(KMSB is) a small station, but that's what I like. There are some growth opportunities there, and it seems like a good fit."
In other TV news: Former Yuma TV reporter Angelique Lizarde has made the move to Tucson as a general-assignment reporter at KVOA Channel 4.
She is the second multimedia journalist (MMJ) hired by the station following a KVOA mandate that all reporters shoot and produce their own material, as opposed to getting assistance from a camera person or editor/producer. Fellow MMJ Naomi Pescovitz started at the station a couple of weeks ago.
UA radio stations KUAT FM 90.5 and KUAZ 89.1 FM/1550 AM upped real-dollar donation numbers during their October fundraising run.
KUAZ raised $214,663—a 16.5 percent jump from a year ago, with a significant dollars-per-donation increase. The drive drew collections from 2,120 listeners, down 1.6 percent from the same period in 2008.
Meanwhile, the KUAT classical-music wing collected $70,183, a 35.7 percent increase over last year. Its 662 pledgers mark a boost of 21.2 percent.