The Arizona Daily Star will be printed in Phoenix starting in May.
The change will eliminate about 60 jobs in the Star’s Tucson printing and packaging operations. About 15 of those jobs are part-time; the rest are full-time.
Jobs in other areas, including news, are not affected and will stay in Tucson.
In announcing the change to the staff on Thursday, Star President and Publisher John D’Orlando said the move is based on the economics of maintaining multi-million-dollar printing presses in Tucson and Phoenix – 100 miles apart – that both run for shorter stretches each day as news readership shifts from print to online.
“The decision to move our printing and packaging work to Phoenix was not arrived at lightly,” D’Orlando said. “But having a press that has been in regular need of repair and upgrade was a constant strain on our resources.”
D’Orlando praised the Star’s printing and packaging workers for their dedication to producing consistently high-quality products. Some may transfer to the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, where the Star will be printed, or to other newspapers owned by Lee Enterprises and Gannett, which are partners in the Joint Operating Agreement that runs the Star. Affected workers also will be invited to a job fair at the Star, 4850 S. Park Ave., intended to match their skills with local companies.
Starting with the May 21 edition, the Star will be printed in Phoenix each night and driven to the Star’s distribution centers in the Tucson area. From there, drivers will deliver the paper to doorsteps and stores throughout Southern Arizona each morning as always.
“Because of press availability in Phoenix, there are no material changes to deadlines,” D’Orlando said in a message to the Star staff on Thursday. “Star readers and advertisers should not expect any changes in quality. As always, significant breaking news may impact delivery times.”
Consolidation of printing operations is a trend that has been happening throughout the newspaper industry for many years. Papers owned by Gannett, the BH Media Group, Tribune Publishing, the McClatchy Company and more now routinely print editions at regional hubs and truck them to nearby cities. On Tuesday Gannett announced that the Tallahassee Democrat would be printed at the Panama City News Herald, also starting in May.
Consolidation in Tucson means a painful loss of jobs, but also frees up money to produce local news, D’Orlando said:
“We will continue serving our community by focusing our resources on providing what matters most to our readers . . . the best news coverage and local content from the best local news staff in the Tucson area.”