Great work in progress

Often when I tell someone I’m in the newspaper business as a publisher, I get an incredulous look. I get it.

Few industries have taken the kind of beating the newspaper business has over the past decade. But today from my seat, I’m happy to report that publications like this one, and their important journalistic missions, are alive and well.

As an Arizona native and a lifelong believer in the importance of good journalism, I’ve always admired this newspaper and the reporters and editors who have been spilling its ink for nearly 40 years. That’s an amazing run in an industry where more than 1,700 weekly publications have closed since 2004.

It’s no wonder in a survey of 12,000 professional journalists released last week by the Pew Research Center, 72% of respondents used a negative word to describe the news industry.

Among the most common choices? Struggling. Chaos. Dying. Declining. Stressful. Difficult.

The newspaper business may be all those things, but community news remains vital. Which is precisely why I continue to believe strongly in our profession, and why I’ve poured my life savings into the Tucson Weekly and more than 30 other publications.

What journalists do — from celebrating local treasures like The Loft cinema to covering the impact of mining in the Santa Ritas — matters. We’re here to tell you the stories, from where to get insanely good jerk tequila glazed shrimp (D’s Island Grill on Fort Lowell Road) to how Yasmynn Lopez and her group BABZ is engaging a new generation of Tucson girls to skateboard.

Every week, Tucson Weekly takes you to corners of the city you might never visit otherwise and introduces you to advocates, business owners, volunteers and experiences you might never glimpse without a smart, in-the-know tour guide.

Frankly, I can’t imagine a cooler way to make a living. In that regard, I’m a lot like the journalists Pew surveyed. For all the turmoil they’ve witnessed in their careers, 77% said they would pursue a career in journalism again, and they are extremely proud of their work.

The pride we have in our work wouldn’t mean much if you, the Weekly’s readers, didn’t share in the excitement. After all, we work for you. If you don’t continue to value our content, then our advertisers might stop seeing Tucson Weekly as the right venue to reach tens of thousands of would-be customers. And if they go away, well, we’d likely follow in the path of those other 1,700 weeklies that didn’t make it.

Some may see that thought as depressing, but to me it’s the source of a boundless drive: We can’t let it happen. Our livelihoods, readers and advertisers depend on us moving forward, on continuing to evolve.

As we trudge the sometimes-bumpy road of bringing you the news every week, we don’t always make everybody happy. We’ve experienced our share of criticism, and lots of grumbling from former journalists who love to second guess the work of those still in the trenches. I hope you’ll judge the paper by its content going forward and its usefulness to you as a member of the Tucson community. We’re committed to keeping it alive and thriving.

Some people say, “No news is good news.” For us, spreading the news is in our DNA.

On that note, a stalwart of Arizona journalism and steward of reader trust for more than 33 years, retired last month. Congratulations and thanks to Jim Nintzel on a legendary career here at the paper. As he departs, those of us sticking around will need to double down on the proposition that has motivated reporters, editors and photographers since the first days of the printing press.

The truth matters.

I encourage you to pick up a copy, read us online or become one of our thousands of email subscribers. However you choose to connect with us, please Read On!

- Steve T. Strickbine

Tucson Weekly Publisher