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2 US newspapers to cease print publication

TWO more US newspapers have announced plans to publish their final print editions, but will continue operating online, part of a growing trend that has shaken the news industry.

Arizona's oldest continuously published daily newspaper, the Tucson Citizen, will publish its final print edition today. The Ann Arbor News in Michigan plans to publish its last newspaper on July 23.

Many newspapers across the country are struggling to survive mounting losses as readers have migrated to the Internet, advertising revenue has declined drastically and circulation has fallen.

Kate Marymont, Gannett Co. vice president for news, told Tucson newspaper's staff yesterday that the paper will continue with a Website edition providing commentary and opinion but no news coverage.

Bob Dickey, president of Gannett's US Community Publishing Division, said in a statement that a Tucson Citizen editorial weekly will be printed in the morning Arizona Daily Star to expand the reach of the Citizen's voice.

"Dramatic changes in our industry combined with the difficult economy - particularly in this region - means it is no longer viable to produce two daily printed newspapers in Tucson," Dickey said.

In January, Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, announced plans to close the Citizen if it didn't find a buyer for certain assets by March 21.

Only four days before the original planned closing, however, Gannett announced that the shutdown would be delayed because negotiations were continuing with two interested buyers.

Those talks ultimately proved unsuccessful. It was unclear how many of the Citizen's 65 employees would lose their jobs.

The Arizona attorney general's office didn't want to let the newspaper die without a fight. It filed a complaint yesterday in federal court seeking to halt the closure.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Terry Goddard said the complaint was filed in Tucson shortly before court closed, and a motion seeking a temporary restraining order also was being filed.

During its lifetime, the Citizen reported on Arizona's biggest stories, including Marshall Wyatt Earp's fabled 1881 shootout at the OK Corral and the 1934 arrest of bank robber John Dillinger and three other gang members hiding out in Tucson.

The Citizen has struggled for years against the Star, a 117,000-circulation newspaper. During the Citizen's heyday in the 1960s, circulation was about 60,000, but it had fallen to 17,000.

The Arizona Citizen was founded on October 15, 1870, by John Wasson, a newspaper man from California, with behind-the-scenes help from Richard McCormick, the territory's governor and later territorial delegate to Congress. Arizona became a state in 1912.

The paper changed ownership several times over the next 100 years until Gannett bought it in 1976.

The Ann Arbor News plans to continue after July 23 with a twice-weekly online-focused operation taking the place of the print edition.

Publisher Laurel Champion announced the date Thursday in an e-mail to employees. The News reported in March it would cease publication after 174 years because of steep revenue losses.

A Web-based media company called will emerge. Although the new venture comes from the same owner, the Newhouse family's Advance Publications, officials have stressed that will be built from the ground up, with the new free Website being more than the old newspaper delivered in a new format.

The new site will also produce a print edition on Thursdays and Sundays.

The newspaper closure will eliminate 214 jobs. Seventy workers previously accepted buyout offers. officials have said they probably will hire some current staffers but have not said how many.

Earlier this month, Democratic Senator John Kerry noted at a special Senate hearing that layoffs, closings and cutbacks have turned US newspapers into an "endangered species."

The Boston Globe in Kerry's home state of Massachusetts is facing the threat of closure unless it can cut costs. Members of the newspaper's largest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, will vote on June 8 whether to ratify wage and benefit cuts that the newspaper's parent company, The New York Times Co., is demanding to keep the 137-year-old daily from closing.

Already this year, E.W. Scripps Co. closed the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and Hearst Corp. stopped printing the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, making it online only. The Christian Science Monitor stopped daily publication in favor of a weekly print edition with online news.

Other major newspaper companies, including the owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, have filed for bankruptcy protection.


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