Arizona Republic Kills Its Community Opinion Pages in Aftermath of Layoffs

Categories: Media, Schmedia

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How do you submit a My Turn column or letter to the editor to the Arizona Republic's community opinion pages?

Trick question.

Don't bother to submit anything. As of this week, the Republic's community opinion sections no longer exist.

See also:
- Arizona Republic Layoffs Include Veteran Journos

The move to eliminate those sections comes on the heels of a Gannett-wide downsizing that resulted in 29 people being laid off from the Arizona Republic. New Times named about half of those who got the ax in a blog post last Friday.

As we learned today, the layoff's aftermath is coming with a significant change for Republic readers and contributors. Not only are the broadsheet community sections now lacking the opinion pages, but so are the online community sites on azcentral.com. Clicking on the links to the website's community opinion pages shows that no columns or letters have been published there since the end of July.

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Twitter
Phil Boas, Arizona Republic editorial director
Three of the current or former community opinion page editors were among those cut in the downsizing: Grant Martin, (whose Republic Twitter account is now down); Stephanie Russo; and Mike Tulumello.

While the Republic will continue to publish an opinion section for the general paper, the shrinking opinion hole means a large swath of Valley suburbs, from Surprise to Scottsdale, have lost an important venue for the voices of residents and officials.

"I think it's a real disservice to the people to take away something like this," says Dick McComb, a former city manager for Surprise who had an article published recently in the community pages about deceased former Surprise mayor Roy Villanueva.

Phil Boas, editorial director for the Arizona Republic, acknowledged the loss as something to be lamented.

"It was a tough decision," Boas says. "It's a tough economic environment."

New technologies and efficiencies are, on one hand, a boon to the news industry, he says. But they also "disrupt the business model. It's progress -- and it's painful."

The paper is looking for ways to keep providing a forum for various community voices, Boas adds.

Of course, there's always Facebook, and commenting at the bottom of Republic articles. But those venues -- where writers of insightful comments are mixed in with the anonymous meanies, racists and wackos -- are a poor substitute for the more distinguished platforms of guest columns or sections for vetted letters to the editor.

Your Turn? Not any more.


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18 comments
nojailforyou1
nojailforyou1

Arizona - where your civil rights get smaller and your criminal charges get larger.

savatage69
savatage69

"disrupt the business model. It's progress -- and it's painful."

It disrupts Gannett's business model of charging people to read their newspaper websites. Whoops! All those stories are available on 1000 other news websites for free. Just checked the AZ Republic site today for the first time in months. Oh, it's AZ Central now. Oh, they're mostly regurgitated stories from USA Today. Oh, there's the warning that if I don't sign up I only get 19 more stories. Idiots. Wish I could find data on pageviews for them. I bet it's down a good 80 percent since they started their new "business model". Charge people for news. Charge advertisers for ads. Nobody sees the ads. Ad revenue in the toilet. Dinosaur business model goes down in flames. Progress? Not so much... 

teknik
teknik

how can they ever think a pay wall would make up for the lost add hits?  folks need to stop fretting about add block, the large majority of the public tends to swallow adds left and right.

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

This is a bad turn of events.Btw, Ray, did you ask Phil how his Father-in-law was doing? ;)

Jim Pompe
Jim Pompe

And I'm sure that Gannett isn't using budgetary reasons as an excuse for getting rid of a section of the paper they may not particularly like.

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

AZ. Republic made huge mistakes in the 90's and now they have come home to roost. The paper is done, and the web site maybe has 24-36 more months. peace

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

i guess these career politicians who pay for an endorsement from local rags couldnt cough up enough green these past few elections. i wonder how much money mary-rose-buttocks contributes to new times so she can read about how much she is for the hispanic community?

Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones

Why does the Republic editorial director, still have his job? It seems, he is not needed anymore....

Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones

I just wrote a letter yesterday, and sent it in. I think it is time to cancel my paper. The B section is the best part. Comics and crossword. This really sux.

Tyburn Gallows
Tyburn Gallows

But how will they police the limits of approved debate and opinion?

Rita Mary
Rita Mary

What next? Actual news with substance? No, wait, that was gone already. Sorry for those laid off while the ownership still rakes in millions. I know it's a shrinking market but cutting out the east and west valley where people still read is a bad solution.

anacleta
anacleta

I prefer unvetted commentary from meanies, racists and wackos.

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