It's been five years since the Tucson Citizen printed its last publication. After 139 years of news, the daily was taken by the grim economic times that loomed in 2009. Gannett employees were laid off or forced into retirement. Some went on to do bigger and better things, or have been forgotten altogether. The Citizen tried to operate as a daily news blog headed by Mark Evans, but was recently shut down and converted into an archive.
Sadly, the journalists and photographers will live on in clippings that collect dust in the vacant Citizen offices that I have had the pleasure to rummage through before I jumped ship to the Weekly.
I used to cross the bridge from the Star's offices and pretend to look for a Citizen story just so I can imagine what it could have been like to work in the once busy newsroom. I would walk around the empty cubicles and try to piece together what section worked where. I would sit in the old, quite archive room and read stories from Tucson's past.
So I'll have to live vicariously through Tucson's renaissance man Daniel Buckley:
On my first day I came in wearing a suit and bow tie. There was no reception area like the paper would acquire later on. Instead you walked into the newsroom and straight into a row of folks that worked for the paper. I knew I was to report to Bruce Johnston but had no idea where in this maze of desks that might be.
And so I walked up to the closest person to the door and said hello to Pat Head – a rather imposing black woman who looked up from what she was doing and cheerlessly asked, “What the fuck do you want?” Before I could answer she yelled at the sports section, “Corky! There’s some kid in a bow tie. Must be for you!”
I explained who I was and what I was doing there and she pointed behind her without glancing toward the features section of the paper. I went back and got settled in with my first editor, Bruce Johnston, who was one of the greatest people I’ve ever worked with in journalism. He made me feel completely at home, and like no question was a dumb one.
Luckily, Buckley has been promoting the five-year reunion on Facebook. Buckley is encouraging all the Citizen staffers to regroup at 5 p.m. at The Shanty, 401 E 9th St.
SEE people who used to work there, including ME! EXPERIENCE the joy of adult beverages with RECOVERING JOURNALISTS! Seriously, hoist a beverage with us in celebration of a place that brought Tucson its news from 1870 until 2009, employing along the way many talented writers, photographers, design people, editors, and a couple old poops. HEAR ANGEL TRUMPETS AND DEVIL TROMBONES! YOU ARE INVITED!
If you haven't already, please take a moment to check out Buckley's video he shot at the Los Lobos featuring the Bulldog Mariachi & Folklórico, from White Elementary School concert at the Rialto. It was a beautiful and inspiring night for Tucson. Honestly, I'm tearing just thinking about it!