Phoenix Gazette Shuts Down p.9

By: M.L. STEIN THE 116-YEAR-old Phoenix Gazette printed its last issue Jan. 18, the victim of falling circulation in a market that prefers a morning newspaper.
The afternoon Gazette, whose circulation was down to 39,000, is owned by Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which also publishes the morning Arizona Republic and Arizona Business Gazette.
Fifty-five editorial jobs will be lost on both papers, which maintained a combined newsroom, according to management.
"While we all feel nostalgic about the Gazette, the marketplace is telling us there is only a limited appeal for an afternoon newspaper," said PNI publisher and CEO John F. Oppedahl.
In addition to the elimination of the 55 positions, there will be a reduction of 30 jobs in other departments through attrition and changes in production schedules.
The publisher said the decision to fold the Gazette will be followed by a redesign of PNI's news-gathering operation, which will "reflect our commitment to respond to reader preferences so as to remain the leading provider of news and informatiom in the valley."
For the next several months, Gazette subscribers will receive afternoon delivery of copies of the Republic. Eventually, he said, they will be offered morning delivery of the Republic.
Republic managing editor Pam Johnson said that most of the Gazette's circulation drop resulted from its readers shifting to the Republic, whose current circulation average is 380,000 daily and 580,000 Sunday. In the mid 1980s, the Gazette's circulation was about 110,000.
Johnson noted there will be a "skill-based assessment" to determine who goes and who stays in the newsroom.
Presumably, plans could include a further expansion of the paper into the so-called Valley of the Sun surrounding Phoenix.
The competition there includes the Thomson-owned Mesa Tribune and Tempe Daily News-Tribune in the Phoenix suburbs.
John Mecklin, managing editor of the alternative New Times in Phoenix, which has taken frequent jabs at PNI, said he did not believe the Gazette's demise means much in the city.
"It's been dying for years," he stated. "The shame is that it had a little bit of life left and was willing to take on the powers that be here."
Mecklin said New Times might possibly hire one or two PNI staffers, who could fit into an alternative paper.
January 18, 1997 n Editor & Publisher #


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