I was surprised to learn today from my good friend Tony Weedor that The Rocky Mountain News published its last newspaper today, February 27, 2009. Newspapers are in deep decline around the country, and the paper had been for sale for several months; but I did not know its demise was imminent.
The Rocky was the more conservative of the two local papers, and sported a fine editorial page editor (Vincent Carroll) and religion reporter (Jean Torkelson). I know both of them. Mr. Carroll published many of my editorials over the years (and rejected some as well) and Ms. Torkelson often called me for comments on religion-oriented stories. Unlike too many journalists, they were fair-minded and enjoyable to work with. I also wrote a number of book reviews for the paper since moving to Denver in 1993. (But more recently, I have been reviewing more books for The Denver Post.)
This paper was nearly 150 years old. It's passing marks a sad stage in American journalism. Periodical print media simply cannot compete with the Internet. We will likely see papers go under around the country in the next few years. Most news on line is free and more up to date than a paper can be. And yet, and yet... Having a paper, an object, with heft and smell and feel is something irreplaceable. Moreover, while the Internet opens up a myriad of perspectives (including my own in new ways), few of these organs have the sense of authority that the better newspapers carried with them as longstanding institutions.
So, goodbye to The Rocky Mountain News. I wish the best for Jean Torkelson and Vincent Carroll, wherever they end up.
Friday, February 27, 2009
The Rocky Mountain News: RIP
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The passing of this newspaper not only represents the loss of the physicality of the paper and it's print in itself, but the diminishment of the free press as a critical presence for the functioning of a healthy democracy as well. As the independence and diversity of the free press is reduced, so too are the plurality of minds and voices that provide essential components that serve to counter balance the powers of government and business. While the Internet has many virtues and can contribute much to the advance of democracy, the loss of journalistic power associated with the loss of newspapers should not be underestimated. While opinions are commonly and easily expressed via the internet, this opinion for example, the acquisition of information and it's dissemination to the public, the citizenry, depend on responsible journalist. While independent opinionist proliferate in the cyberworld, the cyberworld provides little sustenance to independent journalist. I think much more is lost with the closure of The Rocky Mountain News than a mere technological passing.
Vincent Carroll will stay on in some capacity with the Denver Post, but I'm not sure what capacity.
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