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RMN, r.i.p.

Posted by Richard on February 27, 2009

On November 22, 1858, William Larimer founded the city of Denver. Just a few months later, on April 23, 1859, it had a newspaper:

A cheer went up along Cherry Creek in the night. William Newton Byers, 28, and a crew of three printers cranked out the first edition of the Rocky Mountain News, beating its very first competitor, The Cherry Creek Pioneer, to the streets of Denver by 20 minutes.

Colorado had its first newspaper. 

They've been planning for the 150th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain News for some time now. But they won't get a chance to celebrate it. As I write this, the last edition of the venerable paper — the Friday, February 27, edition, 55 days short of its sesquicentennial — sits to my side. On Thursday, executives of owner E.W. Scripps Co. broke the news to the staff.  

I was somewhat surprised at how much the news saddened me. It's not that it came as a big surprise. There was very little chance that Scripps would find a buyer — the Rocky has been hemorrhaging money for some time.

One thing that really bothers me is the classless way Scripps handled the closing. A one-day notice, even with severance package, just sucks. Considering the millions they've lost in recent years, I think they should have sucked it up, eaten another couple of hundred thousand, and scheduled the paper to shut down after the 150th anniversary edition.

I'm going to miss the Rocky. I've been a subscriber for nearly a quarter century, although I admit I've been spending less and less time reading it lately, as the internet has replaced newsprint as an information source. I'm sorry they couldn't figure out how to adapt to that change financially. But they have a pretty good website, and their online farewell video, Final Edition, is worth a look (although I wish it didn't spend so much time on the entitlement-minded couple). I hope the site remains up. 

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