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Rocky Mountain News will close:

Tomorrow's edition of the Rocky Mountain News will be the last. Founded in 1859, the Rocky is the oldest business in the Denver, and its demise comes a few weeks short of its 150th birthday. The paper has been part of my family since before I was born. My father was an editor for the paper in the 1950s; I've been a biweekly media columnist there since 2001. The Rocky's coverage of today's announcement is here. Note the little icon on your browser's tab.

In an iVoices.org podcast taped this afternoon, Jon Caldara and I discuss what a terrible loss this will be for Colorado. A few weeks ago on Jon's TV show Independent Thinking (channel 12 KBDI, 8:30 p.m. on Fridays), Jon interviewed Rocky publisher John Temple. Temple accurately predicted that the Rocky would not survive until the end of the month. You can watch the interview here.

notaclue (mail):
My sympathies, Mr. K.
2.26.2009 4:47pm
dr:
My heartfelt sympathies to you and to Denver. For real, as a longtime newspaper writer/editor myself. This is not a good time.
2.26.2009 4:54pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
But it will not be the last. Expect to lose the Denver Post soon. Some of their journalists may linger on with a weekly, but we are nearing the end of metro dailies.

Next, the radio and TV news programs will fall. Everything will be replaced by free internet publications.

Further we will see fewer and fewer people who can afford a lawyer. Even governments may resort to drafting their services at no pay. More and more people will appear in court pro se, because they will have no other choice.

Hope you guys have plots of land on which you can grow your own food -- and that are defensible.
2.26.2009 4:57pm
Kazinski:
I feel for you, I feel more for the staffers and employees that are more dependent on the Rocky Mountain news for their livelihood that you are.

But that said, it is similar to the closing of a buggy whip factory 100 years ago. Dead tree distribution of the news is not an efficient model for distributing news or advertisements, and its time is over.
2.26.2009 4:59pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb:

Dead tree distribution of the news is not an efficient model for distributing news or advertisements, and its time is over.

True. Most newspapers are roadkill, and for fairly obvious reasons.
2.26.2009 5:10pm
Hoosier:
Perhaps it's better than the alternative. If anyone has seen the new, 2009 version of the Chicago Tribune, they'll know what I mean. In order to survive, it has gone to tabloid format, and seemingly cut out any serious news that does not involve corruption investigations or Obama. World news? Forget it.

I was never a reader of the "Rocky." But perhaps it went out with its dignity still intact. What a nice idea.

How long can, say, the Cleveland "Plain Dealer" or the St. Louis "Post Dispatch" survive? The Indy "Star" is propped up by its status as flagship for a lousy newspaper chain. I suppose that this is the alternative to a complete sell-out or shutting down.
2.26.2009 5:19pm
blue (mail):
I am sympathetic to your personal loss, however as a reader of the Rocky Mountain News itself I don't think much is being lost.
2.26.2009 5:34pm
Constantin:
How long can, say, the Cleveland "Plain Dealer" or the St. Louis "Post Dispatch" survive? The Indy "Star" is propped up by its status as flagship for a lousy newspaper chain. I suppose that this is the alternative to a complete sell-out or shutting down.

Bailout.

Wait for it.
2.26.2009 5:34pm
Shelby (mail):
Word, Constantin. After so many newspapers went to such incredible lengths on Obama's behalf, wouldn't it be kind of awkward to just hang them all out to dry?
2.26.2009 5:38pm
mogden (mail):
The loss is painful, but this failure is the capitalist way. We wait for equilibrium to return, most likely via the Internet.

Would that the same could be said for our zombie banks.
2.26.2009 5:40pm
Molechaser:
My sympathies--it's going to be hard for Denver to start thinking of itself as outside the big leagues of two-newspaper towns.

When I lived in Denver, I always wondered about the Rocky Mountain News's slogan, "Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire." As a newcomer to the region, I hadn't realized there was a Rocky Mountain Emperor. I started reading the Denver Post instead, figuring that it must be the better paper, seeing as how it didn't make the error of proclaiming the existence of a separate nation in the heart of America on its front page. (OK, I'm kidding. I read the Post because I was raised on broadsheets and had an unfortunate bias against tabloids. I will be sad to see the Rocky disappear.)
2.26.2009 5:44pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
I read a lot of old newspapers mostly in microfilm, researching obscure, mostly local organizations and events. These appear in local newspapers in a format which is time-stamped. So what evidence of our daily existence are we leaving? Will a future historian read about the local controversies and attitudes leading up to the war in Iraq like I can read local editorials and news reports immediately prior to or during the Civil War?

I have doubts that the electronic media we have to replace dead tree media will be as lasting, or will leave behind time-stamped data that we don't know might be of interest some day.
2.26.2009 5:47pm
Ron Mexico:
Okay, but what do we do without newspapers? Are we really ready for a media-free society? Who is going to do the investigating, the reporting? It's a joke to suggest that bloggers are capable of this. What are talk radio hosts going to blabber on about when the stories themselves are gone?
2.26.2009 5:59pm
CDR D (mail):
One of my papers is flirting with shutting down, too. The San Francisco Comical.

Although I think the paper is a propagandistic tool of the left, I do like the sports and comics, and the Sunday edition always carries many interesting ads and other addenda.

As I may have mentioned before, reading the Comical has been part of a ritual... from reading while eating breakfast, to the subsequent morning evacuation. The latter of which is a most appropriate setting for reading the front (news?) section, and I especially save the kooky letters to the editor for that venue.

Sometimes, I'll even save some of those whacked out letters to take on camping trips to share with others around the campfire. It's even better than ghost stories.

If the paper does go under, a great source of humor will be sorely missed.
2.26.2009 6:05pm
Houston Lawyer:
I still miss the Houston Post. For some reason they have been throwing the Houston Chronicle on my lawn lately, but they just pile up there until trash day.

Most newspapers deserve to die. I'm sure that Obama has jobs waiting for all the reporters though, since they are all bought and paid for.
2.26.2009 6:06pm
hawkins:

Note the little icon on your browser's tab


What about it?
2.26.2009 6:10pm
Splunge:
Well, the sad (for journalists) truth is that most people never did care very much for "news" in the sense that journalists think of it -- this or that state budget meeting, deliberations at the air quality board, what Senator Foo said about the situation in Eritrea.

People bought the paper largely for the sports, funnies, and classified ads. Craigslist, ESPN and Adult Swim have killed all that. No one is much interested in political news unless it's really big and an election, in which case we get it piped into our houses for free by campaigns, and dissected and criticized also for free by the other campaign.

What's left? The gossip we care about is mostly stuff about people we know, or sleazy Hollywood stars. The National Enquirer supplies the latter. Our twittering and IM friends supply the former.

The people who really get hosed are all the talking heads and analysts that have proliferated enormously over the past 50 years. These folks are out of raw material, and will have to practise would you like fries with that? I guess I'd be sorry for them, if I thought much of their contribution to modern society. But we need fewer analysts and critics and more people who do things, anyway. I'm OK with more J-school graduates working the sales floor at Macy's or sweeping up after the car mechanics at the local Shell station. That's actually useful. RIP, RMS.
2.26.2009 6:21pm
Kazinski:
Here in Seattle the Post Intelligencer is going to go belly up in a few weeks, and I hear both the Philly papers are teetering on the edge.

While I really do feel for a lot of the employees, the sanctimonious sons of bitches, mainly on the editorial pages, but front pages too, that for years have been acting like they are the sole font of wisdom for the unwashed masses, I don't feel a bit of pity for them.
2.26.2009 6:28pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Kazinski.
Some reporters are pleasant in person, should one ever have to deal with them in person.
But trying to get them to correct even an obvious error is an exercise in being considered an inferior species trying to dictate to the ubers.
Not to mention one smeared my daughter by a combination of ignorance, laziness, and lack of mental horsepower. Sucker even went on the AP. Bastard. The editor didn't apologize, and even threatened economic retaliation against my employer.
The subsequent "correction" was a rowback which did as little as possible to clear my daughter.
Eff'em.
2.26.2009 6:39pm
Denver 'burbanite (mail):
Lefty rubbish. I don't miss it already.
2.26.2009 6:39pm
jviss (mail):
1. "Note the little icon on your browser's tab" - I don't get it - can you explain, please?

2. Unfortunate for those who will lose their jobs.

3. The vast majority of newspapers are liberal-slanted, and the vast majority of journalists are liberal-slanted, and despite their claims of journalistic integrity, they write and produce instruments of leftist propaganda. There is no straight-down the middle journalism anywhere that I know of. I wish all papers would fold, beginning with the NY Times. And, despite others' comments about talk radio hosts feeding on newspaper material, talk radio is the best thing that happened for conservatives in a long, long time, and many do their own research and are modern journalists.

4. Real journalists depend no more on hard-copy newspapers than real engineers depend on drafting tables. When was the last time you saw an engineer or architect putting ink to velum? The internet IS the new newspaper. The good thing about the internet is that the barrier to entry for journalists has dropped dramatically, startlingly, since you no longer have to grovel for a job and bend your principles to work at one of the few newspapers who possessed the brick-and-mortar assets required to publish.

5. What I would like to see is a daily virtual newspaper that produced a once-daily digitally signed edition. This would make it useful as a "paper of record," since the digital signature would provide for:
a. authenticity - you would from whom it came, and when;
b. integrity - you would know it came to you intact;
c. non-repudiation - the publisher would not be able to do flying updates and revisions - they would not be able to repudiate what they had published.
This would serve history much better than the apparent chaos we have now. It would also mean, I think, that you would need a real editor, one who would think hard about what went into an edition before he signed it.
2.26.2009 6:44pm
Visitor Again:
The death of a newspaper always saddens me. Best of luck to the staff in finding new employment.
2.26.2009 6:56pm
Wahoowa:
Lefty rubbish. I don't miss it already.

Clearly, you've never read the Rocky. It (or at least its editorial page) has generally been far more conservative than the other Denver paper.
2.26.2009 7:13pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Here's a bet: nobody in the digital world will replace the Rocky's product.

If you didn't want the product, fine for you.

But all the people who have been saying that newspapers can be replaced by something now have the chance to show that they were not blowin' smoke.
2.26.2009 7:34pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
I will miss it. In the early 1960s, it was the morning paper and the Post was the afternoon paper. I delivered the News on bicycle (unless it was a blizzard, in which case I could get my parents to drive me).

It was almost like the difference between Ford and Chevy families. We were a Post family, but my next door neighbor had that paper route. That was when the Post was the conservative paper and the News the liberal one.

It has been years since I have liked the Post. Not only are its editorials hard left, but that orientation is obvious on the news pages too. The two papers did share Sat and Sun, and so I would read the Post's editorials on Sunday.

I will miss the Rocky much more than I would miss the Denver Post. Much more.
2.26.2009 8:02pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Here's a bet: nobody in the digital world will replace the Rocky's product."

Of course not. The model has failed.
2.26.2009 8:47pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Here's a bet: nobody in the digital world will replace the Rocky's product.


Depends on what product.

Comics, movie listings, TV schedules, weather, national news, recipes, fashion, professional/major college sports and opinion are part of the product and already exist elsewhere.

Local news and high school sports are the rest. In the short term, you are absolutely right. The question is if there is any significant demand for this product. If there is, something will come along to serve the need. If not, nothing will.
2.26.2009 8:56pm
Thoughtful (mail):
And yet The Onion newspaper, radio, and television (Onion News Network) remain strong.

This tells you all you need to know about the United States of America.

(Namely, that intelligent satire is rewarded more than propagandistic and obviously slanted "journalism")
2.27.2009 12:00am
HoyaBlue:
<blockquote>
But it will not be the last. Expect to lose the Denver Post soon. Some of their journalists may linger on with a weekly, but we are nearing the end of metro dailies.
</blockquote>


Does that mean Woody Paige will go away? Because if so...well, that's one hell of a silver lining.
2.27.2009 12:11am
Randy R. (mail):
jviss: "And, despite others' comments about talk radio hosts feeding on newspaper material, talk radio is the best thing that happened for conservatives in a long, long time, and many do their own research and are modern journalists."

Yes, talk radio is truly the font of wisdom and objectivity....
2.27.2009 12:56am
Mongoose:
Like every other newspaper in the state of Colorado, the Rocky Mountain News favored Referendum C, which eviscerated the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. As long as newspapers promote socialism, they have no future.
2.27.2009 12:59am
jviss (mail):
"Yes, talk radio is truly the font of wisdom and objectivity...."

I could make the same satirical comment about newspapers. I find the conservative radio talk shows to be more honest than the newspapers and NPR, in that they don't pretend to be unbiased or objective, they flaunt their viewpoint.
2.27.2009 10:07am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The local metro daily includes a weekly insert, unique for each community.
It covers high school sports, events of interest, high school activities such as plays, local charities, local events, city council activities.
It would be a come-down for the PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST to be covering such stuff, but the folks seem to like it.
Can't get that on the web, yet.
2.27.2009 10:47am
Randy R. (mail):
" I find the conservative radio talk shows to be more honest than the newspapers and NPR, in that they don't pretend to be unbiased or objective, they flaunt their viewpoint."

Strange, since I read liberal blogs that are able to eviscerate the newspapers for their perceived conservative bias. At the least, they are able to show when the papers got the facts wrong, or portrayed a subject bathed in the warm glow of conservatism.

I perfectly understand that papers often get things wrong, and bias creeps in from time to time. (The MSM certainly did the heavy cheerleading for the conservatives in the run up to the Iraq war, and STILL they are labeled as liberal!) But the bias and facts usually cut both ways -- this time towards a liberal slant, that time towards a conservative one. The best solution is to get ones news from a variety of sources to actually become informed on a subject and consider each just on brick in the wall of knowledge.

Talk radio doesn't pretend to offer facts, but simply offers their own slant. Newspapers, having known plenty of journalists, at least try to get the story right, and bend over backwards to get the other side. Which drives me nuts sometimes, because they will interview someone on evolution, then for balance, interview someone on creationism. Talk radio, on the other hand, will simply interveiw the creationist, and then declare evolution 'wrong.'

In an imperfect world, I would much prefer the former to the latter. And our republic is better for it.
2.27.2009 12:16pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Newspapers, having known plenty of journalists, at least try to get the story right


How trusting and innocent.
2.28.2009 8:49am
Desiderius:
Ryan Waxx,

"How trusting and innocent."

You'd prefer suspicious and guilty?
2.28.2009 9:33am
Cornellian (mail):
I think it's an ominous sign for the Republic that newspapers are failing left and right while People Magazine and the National Enquirer are doing fine.
2.28.2009 10:54am
Desiderius:
Cornellian,

"I think it's an ominous sign for the Republic that newspapers are failing left and right while People Magazine and the National Enquirer are doing fine."

Surely the latter are more in line with your stated nihilistic cum hedonistic outlook than the former, are they not?
3.1.2009 12:17am
Vinnie the P (mail):
RMN endorsed Bush in 2000 and 2004.
3.2.2009 10:38pm

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