EVANS TAKES OVER REINS AT INSIDE TUCSON BUSINESS
Mark B. Evans, called upon by Gannett to help maintain tucsoncitizen.com after the closure of the company's afternoon paper more than four years ago, has been tabbed by Wick Communications to handle the editorial responsibilities for Inside Tucson Business. "I read and know business journalism, but I need a crash course on the bread and butter of business journalism and finding out what the readers of Inside Tucson Business want," Evans said. "Is their demand for business news currently being served by ITB? I think in part, but I think there are areas we can improve on, so I'll talk to the business community and find out what they want from that publication."
Once he has the lay of the land, Evans hopes the next step is utilizing the publication to pursue business concerns in Tucson and Southern Arizona more in-depth.
"I don't think it's a very effective model for weekly newspapers in a metropolitan daily market to come out on Wednesday or Thursday with stories readers already read four days earlier in another publication or saw on TV already. You need to be giving readers information they didn't know," said Evans, who prided himself on a more investigative reporting approach during his time as editor of the Northwest Explorer, before he joined the print version of the Tucson Citizen as an assistant city editor. "Trying to constantly dig up breaking news is difficult with a small staff, but taking stories that have already been covered and getting to the bottom of the story with some analysis and perspective can generate a lot of readership. And they'll be impactful stories, stories of significance."
Evans replaces Dave Hatfield, who has taken a position in communications with Pima County government. Hatfield filled the editor slot at Wick-owned Inside Tucson Business for nine years. Wick also owns the Tucson Weekly.
Evans' journey has been an interesting study in industry change. He was a holdover from Gannett's closure of the print edition of the Tucson Citizen. When it closed the afternoon daily, Gannett wanted to keep its position in a joint operating agreement with Lee Enterprises, which publishes the Arizona Daily Star.
The agreement had been a cash cow for Gannett. But to keep that income stream active, it had to maintain tucsoncitizen.com. So Gannett hired Evans to blog and to write a weekly editorial that was also published in the Star's print version. However, Evans was much more ambitious. He devised a model in which he persuaded bloggers to post their material on tucsoncitizen.com in exchange for the website's greater search engine recognition.
Evans' approach helped to increase the number of unique website viewers to a level higher than when the print version of the paper was still alive, but he struggled to keep readers on the website after they read the specific story that interested them.
Tucsoncitizen.com has also had some technical glitches, which Evans admits have frustrated him and his bloggers. And while he says the crew at the Star was helpful in solving problems, their priorities naturally were focused on Star website issues.
"They've got their own newspaper to run and their own website to run and they're working on their own initiatives," Evans said. Star staffers have been working feverishly on the long-awaited website pay wall, which is expected to launch in 2014. "For me to come over and ask for help, their answer is 'Sure,' but I've got to get in line," Evans said.
Those are issues Gannett will have to address as it searches for Evans' replacement.
WADDELL OFF TO MUSIC CITY
For more than eight years, Jennifer Waddell sat alongside Guy Atchley on KGUN Channel 9's prime-time newscasts. But the talented anchor did her last shift for the ABC affiliate on Friday, Sept. 6. She's moving to a morning show on the Fox station in Nashville, Tenn.
"All of our family is back East, and we just got an opportunity to make that kind of move," Waddell said. "Not just locationwise, but the shift is better for me and it will allow me to be more present for my kids. I'll be working mornings. People are saying, have I lost my mind, but it's a very conscious choice ... and I know the payoff is I'll get to spend more time with the kids."
Both children were born in Tucson, which made the decision to move that much more difficult.
"Market size has never been a motivating factor to me," Waddell said. "I've never had aspirations to jump markets and get to network. We weren't looking to go to a bigger market, but we thought that if we left Tucson, which has been a great place for us, it would have to be just the right opportunity that made total sense for our family. When we were presented the opportunity, we had to consider it."
Waddell brought many strengths to the KGUN anchor position. Among them is her quick-witted, connectable delivery. Viewers see her as approachable, and that figures to serve her well in her four-hour morning shift.
"I'm excited to wake up with people and be with my kids in the evening," Waddell said.
"In 33 years of doing news for a living, I've never seen an anchor work harder or with greater enthusiasm than Jennifer," said former KGUN news director Forrest Carr. "She's passionate about her profession and about her community. Jennifer is a class act and Southern Arizona will miss her."
Said Waddell: "I think we're leaving Tucson at a point where Tucson is right on the brink of making a pretty big jump. I think it has a lot to do with the downtown revitalization and the modern streetcar. I'm sad we're going to miss out on a lot of that, but I'm also happy for Tucson. Nashville has a small-town feel, and we like that. We want to be where we can have a good quality of life for our kids."