Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Rocky Mountain News: RIP

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.

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