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Citizen-Journal newspaper shuts down

By LEE LEONARD

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Amid teary-eyed hugs and the popping of champagne corks Monday, staffers of the Citizen-Journal put together the newspaper's final edition.

The paper, a 26-year-old Scripps Howard publication serving 110,000 readers, say 'Goodbye Columbus' Tuesday with a six-page supplement on the C-J's history -- aNew Year's Eve special.

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'It looks almost like a Mardi Gras,' observed managing editor Seymour Raiz as he surveyed the city room illuminated by television lights and jammed with outside reporters interviewing his staff.

The C-J's fate was sealed when Akron-area businessman Nyles V. Reinfeld announced Sunday he came up $100,000 short of the estimated $1.5 million he needed to keep the newspaper in business.

Reinfeld had announced on Nov. 15 that he planned to buy the morning newspaper.

The Citizen-Journal, a combination of the old Columbus Citizen and Ohio State Journal, both of which date back to the turn of the century, was allowed to fold by Scripps Howard when the Dispatch Printing Co. announced earlier this year it would not renew a joint operating agreement under which it sold advertising for, printed and distributed the C-J.

The demise of the C-J leaves Columbus, a metropolitan area exceeding 1 million people, with only one hometown daily newspaper.

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The Columbus Dispatch, heretofore an evening paper, will begin publishing in the morning Wednesday.

Scripps Howard expressed 'disappointment' Monday at the turn of events.

'The news of the inability of the group headed by Nyles Reinfeld to continue with the Columbus Citizen-Journal comes as a disappointment to all of us at Scripps Howard,' said Lawrence A. Leser, president and chief executive officer of the Cincinnati-based communications firm.

'At the time of our negotiations with the Reinfeld group, there was no indication that their financial support would not be sustained and we regret that, at the 11th hour, the group's plans have collapsed,' said Leser.

Metro Editor Bill Kessee said he will stay on for two months at Scripps' expense trying to help 75 staffers locate other jobs.

Raiz said some staffers turned down jobs after Reinfeld gave them false hopes Nov. 15, saying he would buy the paper. 'Now they're back to square one,' he said.

As the staffers sipped champagne, laughed, chatted and assembled the final edition, a small paper snowman wearing a 'press' hat looked on, holding a sign -- 'The End is Near.'

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