So long, Rocky

Almost a century and a half after it began publishing as one of the first newspapers in what was then Colorado Territory, the Rocky Mountain News is publishing its final edition today.

It’s an unfortunate end to a business that’s among the longest continuously operated institutions in this state. The paper was founded in 1859 by William Byers.

Beyond its history, however, The Rocky Mountain News was a superb news source. It won four Pulitzer prizes and many other awards in recent years, and it provided solid news coverage of the Rocky Mountain region, along with a moderately conservative editorial voice in a tabloid format that drew legions of loyal readers.

The Rocky fell victim not only to the current economic situation, but to the rapidly changing realities of the newspaper business.

Industry observers have long believed that a city the size of Denver could no longer sustain two major daily newspapers — the Rocky and The Denver Post.

Since 2001, the two papers have worked under a joint operating agreement, through which most expenses were shared, other than for their newsrooms. Despite that, the Rocky lost $16 million in 2008, according to E.W. Scripps, the company that owns the Rocky.

It became apparent in early December that the Rocky Mountain News would most likely be the paper to disappear from the Denver scene. That’s when Scripps announced it was putting the paper up for sale, and would close it if no buyer were found.

Even so, Thursday’s announcement that the Rocky would cease publication after today came as a surprise. Earlier this month, Scripps said it would announce the Rocky’s fate by the end of March.

We wish the best to all of the Rocky staff members who will now be unemployed. And we join countless Coloradans in lamenting the demise of the state’s oldest newspaper. Public discourse in Colorado will be substantially diminished without the voice of the Rocky Mountain News.


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