Rocky Mountain News: Marking anniversary of its death four years ago today
|Post owner Dean Singleton.|
Bartels talked about her mixed emotions and confirmed that she was indeed a "fierce Rocky partisan," as I described her in a December 10 sidebar to our feature article about Scripps putting the Rocky on the block. She emphasized how much pride she took in trumping the Post, and noted that starting on Monday (she thinks), she'll have the same mindset while reporting for her new employer -- except that now, she'll devote herself to scooping every other news organization in town instead of the one she'd previously targeted. In addition, she revealed that she wasn't told about being hired to work for her onetime blood rival until approximately 11 a.m., just an hour before the announcement about the Rocky's closure was made to the newsroom as a whole.
Once the collected horde had finally run out of questions and Bartels was able to make her belated escape, reporters slowly ambled to the Denver Newspaper Agency auditorium, where the press conference was to take place -- and where, tonight, the Society of Professional Journalists' local chapter is supposed to hand out awards, many of which will no doubt go to Rocky journalists. While we waited, I chatted with Kevin Vaughan, another Rocky writer fortunate enough to have been asked to join the Post staff. He was as torn as Bartels about how to react, and he had an additional challenge: He'd been assigned to write about the upcoming address for the last-ever Rocky.
On the cusp of 2 p.m., the assorted boss-men appeared: Boehne; Scripps senior vice president/newspapers Mark Contreras (who remained mostly mum); Rocky editor/publisher/president John Temple; Jody Lodovic, president of the Post (he was a silent observer); Post editor Greg Moore; and Dean Singleton, vice chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group, which owns the Post, as well as the paper's chairman and publisher. Singleton has been battling multiple sclerosis for over two decades, and the disease is taking its toll on him physically; he moved to the auditorium's platform on a motorized wheelchair. But his eyes made it clear that he was as feisty as ever.
Boehne began by saying that he'd just come from the Rocky newsroom, where he'd shared what he described as "a terrible tragedy for the paper and for everybody involved -- and a very sad day for Denver, as well." Scripps had "tried to find a better solution, but we didn't," in part because of a journalism-industry environment that is "nothing like we've been through before" -- a situation that's "dramatic" and "pretty scary." With that in mind, Scripps decided to clear out of the market entirely in order to "give the Post a good head start out of the gate" so it could keep fighting the good fight.
On occasion, Boehne displayed a competitive edge. At one point, he declared that "the best paper in Denver -- through tomorrow -- is the Rocky Mountain News." But the decision to smother it was made with the health of the entire Scripps media empire in mind. "Today, Scripps is a healthy company, and we intend to keep it that way," he stressed.
Then the questions came, and some interesting responses followed.
Continue for more of our original goodbye-to-the-Rocky news conference, including a video.