Southern Arizona newspaper lays off dozens, many worried about local journalism

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A shaky economy has had a massive impact on southern Arizona's premier newspaper.

Friday the Arizona Daily Star confirmed layoffs of more than 50 employees.

"First thing that runs through my head is sorrow for the people that are being let go," said former Arizona Daily Star journalist Don Carson.

Don Carson worked for the Daily Star many years ago and then became a professor of journalism at the U of A.

Friday he heard the news of 52 employees at the star we're being let go in what they are calling a realignment and cited a poor economy for the layoffs.

"Boy I hope daily newspapers don't die, they are the heart of news," said Carson.

Don is a news junkie and has been for years. His love for the Star and other daily newspapers has him fearing they might go away in a world where getting your news has become instantaneous.

"We need that basic news report no matter how small papers get," said Carson.  "The Internet has changed the world dramatically. That worries me terribly. If we lose daily newspapers I think the country will go nuts."

Carson says the kind of news the star and local dailies provide, you can't find anywhere else.  "Somehow newspapers and that kind of reporting has to stay alive."

Newspapers are here for now, but looking at the massive drop in circulation for many local and national newspapers over the years, their future just got a little more cloudy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Many laid-off star staffers gathered Friday night at the shanty on 4th Avenue.

They say they had no idea they were about to lose their jobs and insist it's not just the bad economy that's to blame.

They call the layoffs symptomatic of a paradigm shift in news media, away from the printed word, as digital technology continues to evolve.

"The thing that strikes me is that newspapers are still the source for, at least the beginnings of most of the information you see on the Web that passes for news," said former Arizona Daily Star music critic Dan Sorenson.

"I'm trying to big picture it, I mean, honestly, I'm sad for journalism but I have been for a little while.  I'm mostly sad for journalism and the implications there, I mean, I'm a little concerned for myself but, whatever, I'll find something," said former Arizona Daily Star staffer Polly Higgins.

Disappointed staffers say that in the bigger picture, they expect local newspapers to adapt to a future without print on paper.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Arizona Daily Star didn't even report on its own layoffs, until a web story popped up at midnight.

The story was broken by a Tucson journalist, who worked for the Tucson Citizen when it shut down.

And he shares his insight on the future of the Arizona Daily Star.

When his former employer the Tucson Citizen stopped publishing.  Journalist Dylan Smith didn't make a career change. He started his own media outlet.

"We weren't willing to see Tucson go without good sources of news and that takes reporters out there on the street," said Smith.

The Tucson Sentinel is on-line-only.   But Thursday proved its ability to break stories by reporting the latest details on the latest round of Daily Star layoffs.   It's a subject that touches close to home for Smith.

"It's always painful to see someone you care about, someone you respect thrown out on their rear. not because they weren't good at their jobs.  This is purely an economic thing driven by corporations run out of town," said

In a short time, Tucson went from a two-newspaper town to a city with one newspaper in serious financial trouble.

"Compared to five years ago, there's probably a couple hundred fewer journalists who are explaining to people what's going on in this town," said Tucson Sentinel publisher Dylan Smith.

Smith sees the Daily Star continuing to put more focus on-line, but who will own it and how many people will work there is up in the air.

As for the state of journalism in the growing Tucson Metro area, smith believes news such as this is bad news for residents.

"There's certainly more things going on, there's more money involved in what the government's doing.  And with fewer people combing through records, and talking to people, and finding out what's going on,  I don't think that's a good thing," said Smith.