In an evasively worded front page notice in Monday‘s edition, the ever-shrinking Arizona Republic newspaper, acknowledges its own demise. It’s suffering from the dreaded disease of attrition, as it deteriorates further and hobbles into the sunset.
The all caps headline of the terse article, titled, “TO OUR READERS,” followed by, “Digital USA TODAY free to Republic subscribers,” appears innocuous enough. In fact, it’s a pre-obit.
Gone are the expected newspaper sections. In their place is a front section that includes brief snippets of local, national and international news. The fold-over page USA Today insert added to give heft to the incredibly dwindling newspaper is now incorporated into the catch-all A Section that includes four full-page ads and 6 half page ads. Page 2 contains local and national weather and is topped by a recycled “best of” column: written by a now deceased columnist. Two full pages include puzzles, Dear Abby, horoscopes, celebrity birthdays and the comics. Another page is TV and movie listings.
Section Two incongruously combines Sports and Obituaries. The Sunday edition has bizarrely merged the Real Estate and Cars sections. That’s the entire newly revamped, Hillary-endorsing Arizona Republic. We’ve referred to the newspaper as the Daily Regurgitation, for its penchant for recycling identical reports and the Daily Insult as the tone-deaf newspaper continues to insult its ever declining reader base.
The good news is extremist ‘Mexico First’ editorial board member and rancorous columnist Linda Valdez won’t be submitting her vile, anti-Republican, Trump-loathing spew from her Tucson casa since her long-awaited retirement finally came to pass earlier this month. She went out with a leftist swoon, declaring, “We need more migrant labor. Now.”
Valdez’ final column spewed: “GOP blocks needed immigration reform. The labor needs in construction, home health care and agriculture get worse as the GOP shrieks about the so-called dangers of our southern border.”
“In fact,” continued Valdez, who remains unwilling to accept the highest employment numbers in decades delivered by the Trump administration, “the GOP’s anti-immigration rhetoric – which reached ear-splitting shrillness after Trump hijacked the party – is bad for business.” In 2015, predating her actual, but much-anticipated departure, we wrote, “Does nutty column signal Linda Valdez’ swan song?”
Just days ago, it was reported that Gannett, Co. Inc., the parent company of the Arizona Republic and USA Today was targeted for a buyout bid from a media group with a history of taking over struggling newspapers and slashing jobs. The local newspaper is already functioning with diminished staff, and ASU Cronkite Journalism School students in dire need of editors.
RE: Cartoonist Steve Benson
We were prophetic in the last sentence of the original post. The Jan. 24, issue of the newspaper bids farewell to Steve Benson, the increasingly unfunny but notably talented editorial cartoonist, bonded to flame-headed depictions of Pres. Donald Trump, whom he clearly despised. The oddly worded editorial acknowledges the fact that Steve Benson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was laid off in the latest round of staff terminations by parent company Gannett Co., Inc., as reported in more detail by the Phoenix New Times.
Benson had a twisted metamorphosis, beginning his career as a young BYU educated conservative and a Mormon, ultimately leaving both his former political bent and his faith. As a grandson of former LDS church president Ezra Taft Benson, he was reviled for his vicious cartoons of then-Gov. Evan Mecham, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The farewell by the Arizona Republic’s Editorial Board headlines “Fearlessness with a brush.” It’s a good bet Benson uses pens more frequently than brushes, but attention to detail is not their bag as the few remaining readers of the newspaper are well aware.
On a personal note, Steve Benson lost his 40-year-old daughter in a bicycle-vehicle roadway accident this past September. She left behind a young son.