wine by the color

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Last Sunday I had a rare day with no plans, so I went to the store and bought four newspapers. As far as I'm concerned, there is no better way to spend a quiet Sunday morning than slowly pouring through a newspaper (or four).

I spent a fair amount of time in the greater Denver area several years ago and always read the Rocky Mountain News instead of the Denver Post. My then-boyfriend was friendly with several of their writers and I preferred their columnists (not to mention its tabloid format). I once wrote one of their columnists a letter that ambled on for 1,167 words (he was a fellow OSU alum who wrote about the hiring of Jim Tressel and I took exception with some of his thoughts. He actually responded to my crazy rambling and did not use the words, "I have contacted the authorites," for which he should be commended).

So, even though the entire newspaper industry is in disarray, this week's news that the Rocky would cease publication 55 days shy of its 150th anniversary (making it, according to several sources, the oldest business in Colorado) was shocking and heartbreaking. The Rocky is (was) a damn good paper, one with some 225,000 subscribers. Earlier this week, the paper's sports section was honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors as one of the 10 best in the nation, a huge honor.

Its employees were told on Thursday that the final paper would be printed Friday. They then, in an incredible display of professionalism and dedication, put out a final paper and a 52-page commemorative wrap-around section.

It makes me wonder how our local paper, for which I have written on and off for 15 years, which I have been reading since it was an afternoon paper in the 1970s, and where I have met many of my closest friends, some of whom continue to toil there, can continue to exist. It's a depressing but increasingly imminent possibility. I know I spend a fair amount of time bitching about the local paper, but that bitching is almost without fail referring to the business side of the paper. And that's what is killing newspapers around the country. The business model is failing.

There is a video on the Rocky's site about the paper's demise and eventual death. It's long, and hard to watch, particularly for those I know who have made journalism their life's work. But it is certainly worth watching.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.


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