Farewell to Rocky Mountain News and staff

Posted by Dan Keeney

 Credit: Joe Mahoney © The Rocky

It is with a heavy heart that I write about the pending demise of the Rocky Mountain News. It must be surreal for the staffers who find themselves reporting on the death of their own newspaper. Some will probably do the best work of their lives because they will know the historic implications of what they write in the coming hours.

And I am sure there is no joy for the staff at the Denver Post who are working the story and watching their peers knowing that it could have just as easily been them packing a career’s worth of memories in cardboard boxes — and may yet be their fate someday in the future.

For more than 30 years, I have been a big fan of the RMN. I have a special fondness for it today because my beloved 101 year old Grandmother loves its tabloid format and has equal dislike for the large and unwieldy format of the Denver Post.

There are certain things in life that you just assume will outlast you. When my Grandmother was growing up, automobiles were still pretty unusual; people were pulled around in their buggies by horses and did a lot of walking. They washed dishes by hand and had an icebox instead of a refrigerator. For many in rural areas, electricity was still decades away. Telephones would be shared between neighbors. She was well into her 40s before she saw television.

One thing that was vibrant and alive when my Grandmother was born was the newspaper. Every town — no matter how small — had a newspaper. They served an essential socio political function. They connected us and watched over those in positions of authority. Throughout my Grandmother’s life, she has read the newspaper every day. She remains one of the most knowlegable people I know about current events. And she is happy to both give her opinions and listen to those who differ with her.

I have lived my life assuming that all of these things would outlast me. Some surely will. But I worry — both for myself and all our communities — that the erosion of our major news gathering organizations will diminish us. Surely something will emerge to serve our collective need for information, but will it be as good? Will what replaces the newspaper be as mindful of accuracy and community service? Will it strive to be unbiased and free of the influence of those in power?

I worry for us as we bid farewell to the Rocky Mountain News. And I hope that the staff will work to create a news and information gathering organization that CAN be economically viable in this changed world. All of us need the best minds to create a new model for professional news and information gathering.

If you have trouble seeing this video, go to http://www.rockymountainnews.com/videos/detail/rocky-mountain-news-close/.


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This entry was posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2009 at 8:39 pm and is filed under Future of PR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Farewell to Rocky Mountain News and staff”

  1. Chris Smith Says:

    Also just read WSJ article about the San Fran paper “Hearst Plans to Slash, Sell or Shut Paper in Bay Area” and wonder how we will justify our PR jobs as newspaper continue to decline. Marc Andreesen said on Charlie Rose last week that the print editions should die – that investors no longer had any interest. So how will the online editions fare this year? Next? Five years?

  2. Daniel Keeney the PR Counselor Says:

    I may be wrong, but I am not aware of anybody that has figured out how to profitably maintain a newspaper-style operation (meaning a large staff of topic-specific reporters working on original reporting content) online. The news gathering side is not the obstacle — it is the sales part of the organization that has not been able to effectively make the transition. Until someone figures out a business model that can work online, our major news gathering organizations (I am no longer going to call them newspapers, because they is just one delivery system they use) will continue to decline.

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