Media Watch

Rene, Gargasz Among 'Citizen' Employees Getting Pink Slips

Senior Editor Cara Rene was among the Tucson Citizen employees laid off at the end of last month. Photographer Norma Jean Gargasz and a copy editor were also let go as part of parent company Gannett's 1,000-position nationwide downsizing, which was announced in mid-August.

Last week, Gannett also announced a middle-management restructuring plan that led to the loss of another 100 positions nationwide.

"Today, we are revising our overall organizational structure by eliminating approximately 100 department-head positions. This new structure flattens our executive management ranks, enhances the role of our group sites and aligns corporate resources with the field as we aggressively pursue our print and digital strategies to deliver what readers and advertisers want," said Gannett U.S. Community Publishing president Robert J. Dickey in a memo posted on

The memo cited a 25 percent decline in classifieds revenue--most notably in automotive, real estate and employment--as well as general economic woes.


PBS affiliate KUAT Channel 6 took advantage of a two-week hiatus provided by the political conventions to upgrade its look and change the way it presents its flagship local news show, Arizona Illustrated.

"We knew we were going to take a two-week break during that time once the convention dates were announced, so we basically took that opportunity to redo the set," said Wendy Erica Werden, director of marketing and brand management for Arizona Public Media. "We already had changes in place to redo the content of the show. The show has been around more than 20 years, and as we've tried to stay current with the times, we've tried to not only change the look of the set, but we changed the way the show will be broadcast."

The set upgrade was related to KUAT's move to high definition. (NBC affiliate KVOA Channel 4 has also implemented a studio and technology upgrade for its news product.) There's a substantive change to Arizona Illustrated as well: For most of its two-decade run, the weeknight news program provided three or four segments per show. Those news segments--offering more in-depth approaches to stories compared to what other local TV-news outlets offered--generally ran four or five minutes. Host Bill Buckmaster would also interview guests in studio.

But the content of one story would usually not be related to the content of the next. Now, Arizona Illustrated is dedicating entire shows to specific topics, combining a pre-produced segment with an in-studio interview.

"What we're trying to do with the new format is determine the topic of the show and do an "In Focus" segment on that, and tie it in to an in-studio guest who can then do an interview with Bill or one of the producers that goes more in-depth into the topic," Werden said. "It may be issues about water, health care, new scientific breakthroughs (or) immigration. ... The interviewer can go more in-depth. You have a nice 10-minute segment where you can ask a lot of great questions."

Arizona Illustrated has also added a segment it calls "Video Postcards."

"That's kind of nice, because you don't have someone talking over the video," Werden said. "For instance, on our first night, we had footage of the UA football game--the sounds without anyone commenting and saying things like, 'Here are the people in the stands. They are waving their pompons.' We respect the intelligence of our viewers enough to let them enjoy the video quality. We have Emmy Award-winning producers. We want to let their work speak for itself.

"We're also going to be focusing more on sports, music and happenings related to Southern Arizona. We've also added a letters segment where viewers can submit questions either via e-mail to our Web site, or over the phone, and (they) will be addressed by one of our producers."

Arizona Illustrated airs weeknights at 6:30 p.m., with two encore presentations.


KUAT's radio cohort, KUAZ FM 89.1/AM 1550, is hosting Science Friday on Sept. 19 at the UA's Mission to Mars Center as part of National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation program.

"Host Ira Flatow will talk about Mars in the first hour. The second hour will be on astronomy and chili peppers," Werden said. "They'll be entertaining calls from all over the world, as it will be broadcast live on the Web (from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). It brings a nice national focus to Tucson and Southern Arizona."


Arizona Daily Star executive editor Bobbie Jo Buel is the new president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association. Buel will serve a one-year term through late October 2009.

Also at the Star: Stephanie Innes, who covered faith and values and family issues, will now handle the morning daily's medical beat. Patty Machelor is the new faith and family reporter. She covered eastside news and features and contributed to the paper's Neighbors page. Retail and real-estate reporter Christie Smythe is leaving for a reporter position with in New York City.


Spanish language music station KZLZ FM 105.3 has put together a three-person morning team.

Gaston Mascarenas, who has worked with in the Spanish-music format for a number of years--including contributions on a popular Internet radio offering--is teaming with news reporter Jose Luis Olmos and horoscope expert Marisol Felix.

Mascarenas is responsible for many of the entertainment bits, which include three characters, gags, musical parodies and impersonations.

"We do play a lot of music too," Mascarenas said.

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