Thursday, February 26, 2009

The death of a newspaper

Thursday came the news that Friday would be the final edition of Denver's Rocky Mountain News, a mainstay of journalism in that area for almost 150 years. The news for newspapers has been grave over the course of the last 12 months with cutbacks on almost every major newspaper from the New York Times to the San Francisco Examiner to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and even to the only newspaper in New Orleans, the Times-Picayune. Staffs have been depleted and the lucky ones have been able to grab exit packages while other longtime reporters have simply been shown the door. Many people blame the demise of the newspaper as an entity on several factors, primary among them is the Internet and broadcast media as to how the younger generation receives its news. Newspaper advertisers don't relish appealing to the 70+ set, who are the most voracious of newsprint readers. Giant Internet sites like Craig's List have drained badly needed income from the coffers of local newspapers, especially in the case of classified advertising that was a major revenue stream until the last several years. It does not bode well for budding journalists who are looking to start their careers and it makes me thankful that I am not totally dependent on my writing for my support. The future of traditional newspapers that are printed and distributed by newspaper delivery personnel appears to be dubious. Keep in mind that I am using one of the newer forms of communication through this blog and may, in some small way, be creating a climate that is indisposed to reading newsprint. In the case of the Rocky Mountain News, one of my college cronies, Mike Rudeen, lost his job and his highly popular Ask! column in which readers would send in a question that he would research and answer both online and in the paper. Unfortunately, the paper's parent company could not find a buyer and decided to close its door rather than bleed red ink for another day. Mike, who also had a stint in radio broadcasting is a true journalist in every sense of the word. Passionate, committed and with a no-nonsense approach to his work, he will be looking for work in the Denver area in an already-clogged market during a period of economic upheaval. Rudeen has three children including a set of twins and a wife to support. Best of luck to you, my friend.

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