Media Watch

The Shocking Decline of the 'Citizen'

Total Paid Weekday Circulation
Year Arizona Daily Star Tucson Citizen
2005 109,100 29,064
2004 106,591 30,950
2003 103,811 33,388
2002 103,016 36,056
2001 101,039 38,127
2000 98,452 39,549
1999 97,624 40,600
Weekday circulation figures for the Arizona Daily Star are on the rise, while the Tucson Citizen continues to endure sharply dwindling numbers, according to information obtained by the Tucson Weekly.

The Star's weekday circulation has trended upward every year for the last decade, although some jumps have been more significant than others. For instance, the Star's weekday circulation total in 2002 was 103,016, while its 2003 numbers topped off at 103,811, a jump of 795 papers.

But between 2003 and 2005, it increased by 5,289, to its current recorded total of 109,100.

Meanwhile, the Tucson Citizen dipped below 30,000 for the first time--that's a decrease of more than one-third over a 10-year span. In 1996, the Citizen's average weekday circulation stood at 46,061. The 2005 numbers stand at 29,064.

The years 2002 through 2004 were especially difficult for Tucson's afternoon newspaper. The Citizen went from 36,056 in 2002 to 30,950 in 2004, a slide of nearly 5,100 over a two-year period.

The Weekly also obtained numbers for December 2005. December circulation for the Star tallied 111,127, a jump of 2,114 over the same time frame in 2005 and 5,374 from 2003. Star home delivery increased in December as well, up 326 over the same period in 2004, although that jump was slight when compared to a boost of 2,548 between 2003 and 2004.

Star single-copy sales registered 13,994, off by three when compared to 2004. Between 2003 and 2004, the Star's single-copy numbers slipped by 260.

Sunday, however, was not kind to the morning paper. In terms of total sales, the Star slipped to 167,031, off 3,436 when compared to the same time frame in 2004 and 6,109 when matched with 2003 figures.

The Tucson Citizen's December figures tracked at 27,638, a decline of 1,968 when compared to December 2004, and 4,719 since 2003.

Partially because of the downward trend, the Citizen hopes to unveil a new look in mid-spring.

"As an afternoon newspaper in a town where there's already a strong morning newspaper, you can't be the same thing and hope to make headway," said Michael Chihak, the Citizen's editor and publisher

"We know we can't print yesterday's news this afternoon and gain readership from you. We all have seen it. You saw it this morning in the newspaper; you saw it on TV; you heard it on the radio; you saw it on the Internet."

The Citizen's rebirth has gone through several incarnations and delays, according to the rumor mill. Chihak says plans for the change are still being formulated, but believes the result will be unique among dailies.

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