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Rocky Mountain News, RIP
February 26, 2009, 6:29 pm
Filed under: As I See It | Tags: , , , ,

When I was a kid, my parents subscribed to both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. One came in the morning, the other, the afternoon. My dad would share the paper with me once I became interested, first in the features section, then the main section. I learned to read upside down by reading his paper from across the breakfast table.

The Rocky, a tabloid, was always my favorite. It was easier to read. I liked the columnists more. The comics were better on Sundays. Eventually, the Post and Rocky both became morning papers, and my parents discussed which paper to keep. I chimed in, and we became a Rocky Mountain News home.

In high school, my journalism class went on a tour of the Rocky’s office, and I loved the energy of that newsroom. Later, I wrote a letter to the editor about student journalists and freedom of speech, and the Rocky published it as a guest editorial. That act further cemented the paper as my paper. Publishing = loyalty, right?

When I went to college, I got my first newspaper subscription: The Rocky. I didn’t read it every day; in fact, most days I was too busy to read it at all. But it reminded me of home, and it inspired me to become a journalist. For a short time, the Pulitzer-prize winning JR Moehringer worked at the paper, and I had the privelege of hanging out with him on occasion. (I dated his cousin for a short time.) He was–and still is–a beautiful writer and storyteller, and his style was a great influence on my own writing. Later, when I moved back to Denver and attended Metro State College, I was priveleged to learn all about interviewing and copy editing from Rocky staffers. When I spent a semester working the Capitol Reporter, a now-defunct student weekly covering the state legislature, I was able to work alongside the Rocky’s government reporter, who gave me great advice when a powerful legislator got on my case over a story I wrote: Don’t back down, he told me, or they’ll lose respect for you.

When I was the communications director for the Miss Colorado Organization, I had my first big story placement in the Rocky: a Spotlight cover of the 50th Anniversary of Miss Colorado. As my professional PR career advanced, I admit I was biased toward sending stories to the tabloid paper.

I have always felt that the Rocky was my hometown paper. Where the Post seemed to fill its pages with AP stories, the Rocky seemed to look for the local angle first. I didn’t always agree with the Rocky’s editorial voice on its op-ed pages (but then I don’t think there is a paper with a voice as liberal as the one in my head.)

At the end of last year, Denver learned that the Rocky Mountain News was up for sale, needing around $100 million just to make it whole, let alone make it go foward. The Rocky and the Post had merged their administrative and sales offices a few years ago in the hopes of keeping both papers alive. I eventually got used to reading the Post on Sunday morning; the joint operating agreement dictated that the Rocky was Saturday’s paper and the Post’s Sunday’s. It didn’t work. Tomorrow, the Rocky publishes its last issue, just shy of its 150 year anniversary.

Denver has been very lucky to have two major daily papers for so long. The competition has been great for our democracy because more journalistic eyes and voices on our government means more freedom for us. We’ve benefited from having so many columns of news each day, and different perspectives on the news of the day as well. Having two papers has allowed us to keep our minds open in a very Western way.

Tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll buy an extra copy of the paper and stow it away for safekeeping. On Saturday, when I shuffle out to the driveway in my pajamas to pick up the paper, I know I will feel the loss.

To all of the journalists, editors, layout people, sales people, administrators, pressmen, delivery boys and everyone else who has brought Denver and Colorado this newspaper for the past century and a half, thank you.

Rocky Mountain News, rest in peace.

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