Tucson Citizen to Print Its Final Edition On Saturday; Potential Buyer Says Gannett Screwed Over Paper

The Tucson Citizen is reporting today that it will publish its last print edition tomorrow. The newspaper, nearly 139 years old, is being closed by its parent company, Gannett, which has suffered severe drops in stock prices.

The paper had been scheduled to close in March, but Gannett left it open on a day-to-day basis while negotiated with two potential buyers.

One of those buyers, however, is crying foul:

Stephen Hadland, CEO of the Santa Monica Media Company, and the final bidder in negotiations with Gannett disagreed with that assessment.

Reached by phone Friday morning, he called Gannett's decision "the biggest perversion of the Newspaper Preservation Act that I have ever witnessed."

"We were, we are and we remain a bonafide buyer," Hadland said. "We made a substantial cash offer, we later amended the offer to close to half a million dollars and were told that nothing less than $800,000 would be acceptable."

Hadland also told the Citizen that Gannett had told potential buyers the newspaper could not just be a Web site -- it had to have a print version, too. Yet, to Hadland's frustration, Gannett's announcement today also included the info that the Citizen would continue in an online format.

The Web site won't cover news or sports, just spew opinions, according to Gannett.

A Gannett representative wasn't sure what will happen to the paper's 60 employees.

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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.