Friday, 27 February 2009

Death of a newspaper, Rocky Mountain News

Just watching the video 'Final edition' made by Denver, Colorado's daily newspaper Rocky Mountain News on their own demise today, 27 February 2009.

This was not a smalltown operation or a throwaway freesheet, but a major metropolitan newspaper with a pretty impressive website.

You can see in the 21-minute video, a busy, modern newsroom filled with newspeople, focussed on their jobs but coming to terms with the impending doom as the 149-year-old newspaper was closed by its owner Scripps.

I've been in the industry less than 6 years, but this a chilling almost unbelievable vision, their website homepage full of the farewells, a collection of their best features, but most crushingly, hard news reporting on their own job losses: 'Goodbye Colorado'.

As Rich Boehne, the president and CEO of Scripps said, the city of Denver could no longer support 2 morning dailies, the only bright note for Denver is at least they still have one title The Denver Post, only one unopposed voice, but still a voice.

The video itself was well put together, slick, stylish, along with the photos of the papers final hours, all deepening the thought that dozens of talented journalists and staff will have nothing to do come Monday morning.

Reporters talked of stories ready for the Saturday edition that would never be published. Best of luck to all the Rocky staff for the future.

Only days before the owners of the San Francisco Chronicle announced that they needed drastic cuts within weeks or they would be forced to sell or close the paper (in a city where there is no other daily!) which was first published in 1865.

In the end, this is a(nother) telling moment in the evolution of news media, but most ominously a warning for all newspaper owners worldwide where the recession has hit: the business model is crumbling and companies that can't weather the storm will have to cull more titles.

The message to take away I guess is that we all need to get on with it, keep trying to produce the best paper/website we can, try to pull in a more subscribers and visitors and any ideas to save/make money, well they are going to come in handy.

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