Tucson Citizen Owners Could be Forced to Publish Paper; Judge to Rule Tueday

After a 90-minute hearing in federal court, Judge Raner Collins said he will decide Tuesday whether to order the corporate owners of the Tucson Citizen to keep publishing the 138-year-old newspaper.

State Attorney General Terry Goddard, who accuses Gannett and Lee Enterprises of trying to monopolize the Tucson daily newspaper market, sued the companies on Friday and asked the court to issue a restraining order to stop their plans.

The above-linked article by the Arizona Daily Star, which has a joint operating agreement with the Citizen, leans in favor of the owners. Reporter Tim Steller points out that the owners did not get offers for the newspaper that exceeded the estimated $750,000 value of the Citizen's assets.

Steller also cites a sworn declaration by a Tucson auto dealer about the struggle for newspapers to sell advertising with so much competition from radio, TV and the Internet. The anecdote is used ostensibly to show the conjoined Star and Citizen could not survive without killing off one of the siblings.

If Collins sides with Goddard, maybe he'll announce his decision by yelling "Start the presses!"

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.