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Archive for July 22, 2010

Newspapers flying off to Dodo Island …

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I became a newspaperman in the “Golden Age of Newspapers” we chased ambulances and everything else. One night as a news photographer I sat at the Blue Note’s bar sipping beer and waiting for the police to break-in and raid the place. The Note was a “dance place” and my favorite of the evening (I remember it still) was a pretty young lady with two six-guns and a boa. The huge snake’s tail was everywhere. No police raids and I had to go back to work empty handed because nothing had happened. In those days you didn’t have a story until something happened, today–newspapers advance stories, talk to all the people who are going, get their take on things and move on to another front page advance. Got to the point we never went to the event itself. That’s why I got into newspapering–covering the event, going to see what happened or who said what. One thing for sure, you could never make it up better than what actually happened, the facts, were always better.
My hometown, Moberly, Missouri once had three newspapers, the Moberly Monitor, the Moberly Index and the Moberly Evening Democrat and so when they folded into one press the newspaper became the Moberly Monitor-Index and Evening Democrat. Newspapers brought political and community voice to issues and often championed one side or the other. In Tucson the Citizen was the conservative voice and the Arizona Daily Star the more liberal view. For years the letter’s to the editor reflected the frustrations of both sides and then in the Bush Years, the rancor was dialed up and politics boiled over and community newspapers starting putting the news of the day on page three and some “advance” on page one. Telling folks how to become a part of the community, instead of telling them what they missed, is how we spun the news we were pushing. Then we decided we needed to court the new generation because they were our future, so we decided not to cover the older generation who read us religiously and concentrate on tomorrow instead of yesterday. Then TNI circulation decided it was too expensive to drive the Citizen to Sierra Vista, AZ (even though we had 2500 readers there) so we walked away from 10 per cent of our reader base and the Star never picked up those readers. We did this again and again, and each time, we would concentrate on a smaller area of coverage…at one time…we decided we would just cover the University of Arizona and tell the news of Tucson through the eyes of their students and teachers. We quit covering Picture Rocks, Saddlebrook, Oro Valley, Marana, Green Valley and started to concern ourselves with the area surrounding the newspaper building at 4850 South Park Ave, less mileage expense and besides who wants to buy and advertise in a newspaper nobody needs or reads. In the 1970’s we covered Arizona from the Utah border to New Mexico border to California border into Mexico.
It wasn’t long after that Tucson Newspapers Inc decided the Citizen was too expensive to produce any longer and folded the newspaper after 138 years of covering Southern Arizona.
The Tucson Daily Citizen had covered the Shoot Out at the OK Corral, Arizona Statehood, Geronimo’s Capture and now wrote it’s own obituary, taking with it a news team the likes of, Tucson, will never see again. The Citizen’s legacy, are the newsmen and women left in its wake, a generation of reporters and communicators who had their shot and took it…
The Citizen’s website survives it’s printed version (for now) preserving a second voice for the Tucson area, it’s staffed by volunteers, and yes folks, ” PLEASE pay no attention to the big man behind the curtain”, thunders the WIZARD of OZ.

The Dodo Bird was a wingless bird living on a single island and having never seen man had no fear of him. It was with great ease the clubing and elimination of the entire species.