It is churlish I suppose to say that for some time now I haven't made it a practice to read Solares Hill, the weekly magazine wedged into the Sunday Citizen between the advertising fliers and the sports section. But to deny it would be a lie. I suppose it was inevitable that in a world of diminishing print news a weekly magazine owned by the daily newspaper would lose it's raison d'être in a circulation as small as that of even the entire Florida Keys. Mark Howell has been let go along with his assistant Nadja Hansen and even the venerable Sports Editor Ralph Morrow a fixture for 20 years in the main newspaper.
Mark Howell, the Welshman, is an excellent writer a great observer of humans in action and editing the newspaper was for him apparently a secondary skill and it seemed inevitable to me that when the newspaper lost its most interesting voice to editing and hunting advertising it became perforce less worthwhile.
There were contributors, Diane Roberts with her one note humor on the corrupt foibles of our leaders in Tallahassee, and C S Gilbert reviewing culture with a resolute eye, but so much of Solares Hill was given over to the chummy name dropping of the film reviewer and empty how to articles from the insider cliques I started just drifting through and over and past the few thin pages that lately seemed to lack trenchant political comment and critical thinking. I guess the owners got the message, for in their note mentioning the imminent demise of the magazine (last edition Sunday September 8th) they said it was lack of advertising income that did for the paper. I guess I feel lucky that despite any and all shortcomings a town as small as Key West still puts out a full daily newspaper that lands with a thud in my driveway every morning before dawn. Can you say as much where you live?
The Key West Citizen will cease publishing the Solares Hill, The Citizen's Sunday magazine section, as of the Sept. 8 edition.
Publisher Paul A Clarin made the announcement to the Citizen staff on Wednesday.
"Over the past few weeks, we made the difficult decision to stop publishing Solares Hill," he said. "As with many publications these days, there simply has not been enough advertiser support to sustain the feature-rich section."
Clarin said, "Solares Hill was quite popular with Citizen readers and has always added a unique voice to the paper. From insightful observations of our town and the Florida Keys to our links to the Bay of Pigs training sites, the editor and writers of Solares Hill always looked beyond the obvious and dug a little deeper. It's a tragic fact these days that reader interest does not guarantee the financial success of a publication."
The Solares Hill Editor and Associate Editor's positions have been eliminated. Mark Howell and Nadja Hansen will be leaving the company.
In other Citizen newsroom reorganization, the Sports Editor position has been eliminated and editor Ralph Morrow will be leaving The Citizen.
"As we move forward, we will merge some of the Solares Hill columns and features into our Sunday newspaper. This will be an evolving process over the next few weeks, part of our continuing efforts to keep The Key West Citizen a strong, financially successful publication," Clarin said.