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Another American newspaper closes: RIP the Tucson Citizen

ARIZONA'S oldest continuously published daily newspaper put out its final print edition on Saturday with a fitting last headline: "Our Epitaph."

Saturday's 48-page commemorative edition of the Tucson Citizen was filled with individual columns by editors and staff and highlights of the Citizen's 138 years of publication. The Citizen will continue as an online-only opinion Website providing commentary and opinion but no news coverage.

The Tucson Citizen was one of two American papers that announced plans last week to publish their final print editions, but continue operating online, part of a growing trend that has shaken the news industry. 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 plummeted and circulation has fallen.

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

The complaint said that Lee Enterprises, publisher of the morning Arizona Daily Star and the Citizen's owner, Gannett Co, were closing the newspaper to increase profits to both companies, and doing so would "substantially lessen competition."

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

"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.


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