Rocky Mountain News closes, digital train rolls on

28 Feb

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Yesterday saw the last day for the Rocky Mountain News, which published in Denver for 150 years (149 years, 311 days to be precise). I wasn’t very familar with the paper except for the three years our family lived in Colorado Springs, but I know it as a unique and lively paper that built a solid reputation (multiple Pulitzer Prizes in the last decade) and enjoyed a colorful history, to put it mildly. It’s a paper that people will miss, and we should.

This is the latest casualty in the newspaper revolution, but it won’t be the last. More than 15,000 newspaper jobs were lost around the country in 2008. Denver is now a one-paper town (the Post survives), and other major cities have faced or are facing (San Francisco, Seattle) the same prospect. But the demise of the RMN seems to have struck a deep nerve among those who pay attention to the news business.

Visit the RMN site to read and view the coverage of its own death. Watch the online video on the front page. It’s a 21-minute primer on the current upheaval in the news business, focused through the story of the RMN’s final months. Slightly self-serving, maybe, but when someone’s going down for the last time, we can cut some slack. Mostly, the video presents an informative and sometimes poignant story.

Coincidentally (or not), Hearst Publishing announced on the same day that it’s developing a digital reader for periodicals — like Amazon’s Kindle device, but for magazines instead of books. Note how this particular digital train is moving from less periodicity to more: books … magazines … next stop: newspapers?

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