Friday, February 27, 2009

Sadly for the Rocky, Scripps brought wrong hat

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Another newspaper has died. This time, it's the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.

There's a lot that can, has and will be said about this sad event. One of the truest things said so far is newspapers aren't things -- they live. And they don't go out of business; they die.

And the heartbreaking damned fact is, given the times in which we live, many, probably most, of the people losing their jobs today -- the people who made the Rocky live and breathe -- will never work for a newspaper again. Perhaps never work in the broad outlines of their chosen profession again.

That's as big a tragedy and waste as the physicist -- or the poet -- relegated to sweeping up factory floors in some communist-bloc country because he or she offended the political regime in some unfathomable way. In America, we don't have an iron-fisted, monolithic political regime to offend and, thus, be banished.

We do, however, have an iron-fisted, monolithic corporate infrastructure to offend by our continuing need for food, shelter and the money to purchase both. We also have the gods of change to offend by becoming an anachronism.

INCREASINGLY, newspapers -- and newspaper people -- are anachronisms. Anachronisms proficient at what, increasingly, no existing economic model will support.

Anachronisms who have mouths to feed and a need to be useful. Anachronisms who know, in their heart of hearts, they will never have a job they can do as well as this one -- this outdated one. Anachronisms who know what they do is needed still, even if nobody else does, because who will keep an eye on the bastards now?

These newly minted anachronisms, the ones with no idea what they'll do now, are human beings . . . despite the prevailing opinion on talk radio and in the Internet comboxes. They hope, they fear, they love and -- to the amazement of those giddy about yet another victory over "the vast left-wing conspiracy" -- they are loved.

And so is their newspaper, which today is no more. One comment on a farewell story on the Rocky Mountain News website struck me as a particularly vivid illustration of this.

SO . . . for the last time, from the Rocky Mountain News:

conative1963 writes:

I feel like my BFF has died. I have been crying on and off for the last 12 hours.

Although I've been in and out of Colorado for the past 20+ years, finding, picking up and reading the Rocky in its inky goodness has been like seeing an old friend. I remember visiting my Grandparents when I was five, and loving the fact that I could actually hold the tabloid-sized paper in my teeny hands MUCH easier than a broadsheet. Thus began my love of an actual newspaper.

Members of my family have been reading the Rocky Mountain News for at least 120 of the last 149.85 years.

I never, ever thought the end of a business would evoke more emotion than the death of a real person. But it has.

I do realize that the Newspaper business has changed, and will continue to change and evolve. Someday, maybe the Rocky will return as an online entity. Until then, it will be missed. Greatly.

I do not look forward to taking this morning's paper to my Alzheimer's riddled 94 year old Grandmother. She inquires daily about her paper, and when I have to take her the Post, I know she will cry.

Thank you, all, for your wonderful work.


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