Sun, Mar 01, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Colorado newspaper ‘Rocky Mountain News’ closes

‘STOP THE PRESSES’ After the paper’s US$16 million loss last year, the company that owns it on Thursday announced that Friday’s edition would be its last

AP , DENVER, COLORADO

On the day his newspaper published its final edition, Rocky Mountain News editor John Temple advised a gathering of Colorado journalists to focus on local news and suggested creating online content that niche audiences might pay for.

“It’s not realistic to think in this day and age that people are going to have one information source and you’re going to be it. You try, you die,” Temple told the Colorado Press Association convention on Friday.

“If you’re not experimenting, then I think you’re in trouble,” said Temple, who also held the titles of publisher and president.

The E.W. Scripps Co, which owns the News, announced on Thursday that the Friday edition would be the newspaper’s last ­after nearly 150 years in business.

“Goodbye, Colorado,” read the headline on a 52-page commemorative edition wrapping the regular newspaper on Friday. “STOP THE PRESSES,” read the front-page headline inside.

Mike Simonton, a bond analyst at Fitch Ratings, said a number of other newspapers could close by the end of next year, and those that survive will be focused on local contact with smaller staffs and less printed content.

Four owners of 33 US daily newspapers have sought bankruptcy protection in the past two-and-a-half months, and a number of other newspapers are up for sale.

“We think this downturn is incremental to a very severe longer-term pressure from the Internet,” Simonton said.

“Many of the newspaper groups are in dire financial situations. We believe there will be more newspaper group bankruptcies and more newspapers closing over the next two years,” he said.

Scripps said the News lost US$16 million last year. In December, the company put the News up for sale, along with its 50 percent stake in the Denver Newspaper Agency, which handled business operations for the News and its rival, the Denver Post, under a joint operating agreement (JOA). No viable buyer came forward.

Under the JOA, approved in 2001, the newspapers shared business operations while keeping their newsrooms separate. Both papers published every weekday. The Post, owned by MediaNews Group Inc, published Sunday editions while the News handled the Saturday edition.

On Friday, the Post prepared to publish a Saturday print edition for its readers and for News subscribers, who will now get the Post for the length of their subscriptions.

William Dean Singleton, chairman and publisher of the Post and CEO of MediaNews, has said he would like to keep at least 80 percent of News subscribers. The Post has hired 10 News staffers, including columnists, and is picking up features and comics that the News published.

Singleton, who is also chairman of the board of The Associated Press, has said Denver could support only one newspaper. He said on Thursday he was confident his newspaper would survive.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors announced on Friday that it was canceling its annual convention, scheduled for next month, so newspapers can save money and focus on surviving the recession.

The last time the group canceled was during the final months of World War II in 1945.

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