Rocky Mountain News: Marking anniversary of its death four years ago today

Categories: Media

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Pics, video below.
Four years ago today, the Rocky Mountain News closed on the cusp of its 150th birthday. The changes in the Denver media scene since then have been profound. And while the Denver Post, the city's surviving paper, continues to exist, its present doesn't look much like the future that seemed in the offing throughout our original coverage of the goodbye-to-the-Rocky news conference, on view below in its entirety.

At the event, Rocky editor/publisher/president John Temple said he didn't have any immediate plans after the shutdown, even though Rich Boehne, CEO of E.W. Scripps, very publicly offered him a job. In the end, Temple didn't take him up on that deal. He blogged for a while before helming a news site in Hawaii and then signing on as an executive at the Washington Post.

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Penny Parker.
Many other Rocky vets have taken similarly circuitous career routes over the past four years. Examples abounded among panelists for "After the Love is Gone -- Following the Rocky Road," a discussion staged earlier this month. For instance, sports journalist Sam Adams is now concentrating on a stand-up comedy career; business journalist David Milstead currently plies his trade for The Globe and Mail, among Canada's most prestigious newspapers; and onetime reporter and editor Chris Walsh currently edits a publication called the Medical Marijuana Business Daily.

As for Penny Parker, another "After the Love is Gone" participant, she was hired by the Denver Post at the time of the Rocky's demise, along with a handful of her colleagues -- few of whom are still around four years later. Gone via layoffs, departures or other methods are such big names as Mike Littwin, Bill Johnson, Tina Griego and Parker herself; she's now writing her society column for a website, Blacktie-Colorado.com.

In our news conference coverage, we chatted with two Rocky scribes hired by the Post, Lynn Bartels and Kevin Vaughan. Bartels remains at the paper, and continues to kick ass as one of the town's best reporters; Vaughan left his position as city editor this past October to work for I-News, a journalism nonprofit.

As these changes imply, the Post is a much slimmer operation than it was in 2009, with even the jumbo comics section that was among the biggest selling points for Rocky subscribers to switch allegiances back down to pre-closure size or smaller. Like newspapers across the country, the paper is trying to do more with less -- and it ain't easy.

And the Rocky? As you'll see in our report, Scripps announced that its website was for sale, but four years later, it continues to linger online, frozen at the moment of death. Likewise, the content has never been peddled -- an unconscionable waste of resources, but an unsurprising one.

Not that the tabloid has been forgotten. Its demise will be a major topic of conversation at the 2013 National Conference for Media Reform, scheduled to take place in Denver April 5-7, as well as at a preview event, "The Perfect Storm: Democracy in the Age of Big Money and Big Media," taking place on March 7 and featuring commentators such as Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron and former FCC commissioner Michael Copps; click here for more information.

The memories linger -- yet the era when Denver was the home of the nation's most exciting newspaper war seems like it ended a lot longer ago than four years. Here's our original coverage of the press conference, featuring photos from the event.

"Highlights from the goodbye-to-the-Rocky Mountain News press conference," February 26, 2009

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J. Knight
E.W. Scripps CEO Rich Boehne addresses the media after announcing the Rocky would close after Friday's issue.

Reporter Lynn Bartels's colleagues at the Rocky Mountain News warned her not to try exiting the Denver Newspaper Agency building through the main lobby. After all, the place was swarming with reporters gathered to attend an upcoming press conference at which E.W. Scripps CEO Rich Boehne -- and, as it turned out, quite a few other executive types -- was going to explain why his company had decided to shut down the Rocky after the distribution of tomorrow's edition. But Bartels, one of the lucky handful of Rocky reporters to be offered a position at the Denver Post, just wanted something to eat, and she thought she could slip in and out without notice. And she might have been right, had it not been for yours truly. I greeted her as she walked past, and when she stopped to talk, she was immediately swarmed by the collected press. Suddenly, one of the most no-nonsense wordsmiths imaginable was being treated like a media celebrity.

It was that kind of day.

Continue for more of our original goodbye-to-the-Rocky news conference, including a video.


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7 comments
Joseph Eskew
Joseph Eskew

Options. Information is in the hands of a few, and our society suffers for it.

Todd Elsen
Todd Elsen

I miss RMN prep coverage and them keeping the Post honest in reporting,

Jacob Collins
Jacob Collins

I don't get !@#$ing autodialer calls from them anymore, so that's a plus.

Patty Leidy
Patty Leidy

i no longer get a paper and read the decent comics online..

Cecil
Cecil

Ah, Rich Boehne. Cried crocodile tears for us all, enjoyed his six figure bonus at the end of the year. Just how the game's played, folks! Gotta keep Scripps stocked with lumpen VPs of Advertising!

What a hagfish.

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