Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Let us mourn a great newspaper

A grand old newspaper has died.

I’ve never been to Denver but have known that it was one of the last two-newspaper cities in our nation. The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News were two papers I once considered joining, but now I’m kind of glad I didn’t.

It must be wrenching for the residents of Denver and surrounding areas to lose one of their newspapers with the demise of the Rocky Mountain News. Consider this, San Francisco is facing the loss of its only large paper, the Chronicle. After that, it’s bloggers and Web sites for news for the city by the bay.

Some might say good riddance to the Rocky, as it was called. Another lefty-liberal voice silenced, and about time, they would say. Those who lost their jobs, some might say, deserve their fate for working for a mouthpiece for the evil ones in our society.

Hogwash. Newspaper people’s views span the political spectrum. I’ve worked with conservatives and enjoyed having their views expressed in the newspaper and discussing the issues, knowing they offered a much-needed balance to the discussions of the day. The news business needs a lot more conservatives in the newsroom. If nothing else, it can make for lively chats over lunch.

And remember, it’s not just the paper’s employees who are affected. It’s their wives, children, grandchildren and the society as a whole. It puts a lot of people into the job market at a time when jobs are scarce and paychecks are shrinking. And it silences a lot of editorial voices.

Tough, some might say, but it’s easy to say that when one still has a job.

I grieve with my colleagues. I was once part of the Scripps family of newspapers, and we always saw the “Rocky” as the height of our professional possibilities in journalism.

There is no bright side to this, but at least the staff will be paid through April 28, according to the Rocky’s competitor, The Denver Post. I presume there will be severance, too, and that will lighten the blow a very tiny bit, but it’s no substitute obviously for a lost job, lost benefits and the possible end of a career.

Looking at the Web site for the Rocky, there were the stories about the closing and the goodbye columns, but there was also news of events in Colorado, obituaries, business news, and more. Newspaper people are adept at bemoaning their fate, but I’m proud that they kept to it to the end.

When the lights go out at the Rocky and the last desk is cleaned out, maybe all that pride will have been for naught, but I try to look at the bright side. We live in a free country, with a press whose members don’t have to worry about the government censoring the paper to keep bad news out and arrest those who dare challenge the power.

RIP, the Rocky Mountain News.


February 27, 2009 - Posted by | The news business | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I’m going to share with you what I said on my Facebook site.

    “Yet another victim of the economy. Today is the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News. I do not know any of these people, and I cried watching the video on the site. Is the story of these folks any more tragic than a factory, store chain, or major shipping hub closing down? Maybe not, in some sense, since these folks have skills that will serve them well in other areas. In another sense, this is very tragic. For so many of us, the newspaper was our first real exposure to the world beyond our neighborhood. It’s how we kept up what was happening within our own communities, too. Even during the Great Depression, newspapers survived. It’s not the death of an industry – it’s a death in the way we live our lives. I may be able to assuage my conscience by stating my lack of newspaper subscription is one of the ways I cut down on consumption of the earth’s resources, but in reality it’s because I can’t imagine having to “wait” for my news anymore.”

    Disclosure: I’m not a journalist, and I live on the East Coast. Just…saddened.

    Comment by TAF | February 27, 2009 | Reply

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