The deadline for bids on the Tucson Citizen has passed - apparently with no offers - which means the paper likely will cease publication March 21 after 138 years in business.
A spokeswoman for the paper's corporate owner described the Feb. 19 bid deadline as "flexible," leaving the door open for an 11th-hour purchase.
But national media experts say it is doubtful a buyer will come forward because Gannett Company Inc. is not selling its 50 percent interest in the joint operating agreement it has with the Arizona Daily Star.
The Citizen and the Star, owned by Lee Enterprises Inc., have had a JOA since 1940. Under the agreement, each paper produces independent editorial and news content, while production, distribution, advertising and other non-news operations are handled by a third corporation, Tucson Newspapers. The papers share equally in the profits from Tucson Newspapers operations.
The Citizen is an afternoon paper with a daily circulation of about 17,000. Its Linkedin profile says it has between 200 and 500 employees.