Today, Denver mourns the death of an old friend, the Rocky Mountain News. Yesterday morning, the Rocky announced that the final issue would be printed today. 55 days short of it’s 150th birthday, the news came as a shock to most of Denver. Don’t get me wrong; we knew it was coming. We just didn’t know it would be so soon.
The Rocky’s first issue ran on April 23, 1859. Shortly after, many of the local newspapers stopped printing. The Rocky was unstoppable. Even the first attempt at the Denver Post didn’t do so well. The Post took several years off before attempting to compete with the Rocky.
Denver became one of the few lucky cities with two major newspapers. This brought lower prices, more advertising space, and an overall better economy to Colorado. Not to mention more media coverage, which equals more national recognition.
But times have been tough lately. Very, very tough. The owners put the Rocky up for sale, with no such luck. Time was running out, and they couldn’t afford another blow in their wallet. So yesterday morning, reporters, editors, and anyone else you can think of gathered in the newsroom. That’s when the chaos began.
The writers had one day to make a wrap for the final issue of the Rocky. They wrote explanations, memories, and, possibly hardest of all, last goodbyes. One man even wrote an obituary for the paper. Another described it as “Playing music at your own funeral.”
The issue hit the press at around 10 o’clock PM. On top of the thousands of issues already needed for subscribers, the Rocky printed additional thousands of papers for stores and collectors around the world. They were all sold out by noon.
Hundreds of people are now out of work. The Post is only picking up 10 of the dozens upon dozens of writers and columnists the Rocky had hired. So many great minds, now without a job.
How this affects me:
First of all, on the more business side, I am an aspiring journalist. Hearing that the newspaper business colapsing in general, and not just my paper, is adding insult to injury. Salt in the wound. As soon as I was old enough to get a job, I was planning on interning at the paper. I couldn’t care less if I wasn’t paid, it was going to be a chance to work at the Rocky! My dream got slashed when I heard the news. Now I have to go to plan b: the Post. Not so enjoyable, if you ask me.
Now onto the personal side:
My family has been in Colorado for well over 100 years. This means my parents, my parent’s parents, my parent’s parent’s parents, and my parent’s parent’s parent’s parents all have read this paper. My grandpa read it almost religiously; it’s a good thing he’s already passed away, because this news would have given him a heart attack. And I mean that in the most literal sense possible.
My dad has read the Rocky every day of his adult life. Everyday, he’d grab the paper, go to work, and sit during his lunch break reading the paper and discussing the news with his friends. Yesterday, I gave him my apologies, as I figured he had already heard the news. Well, he hadn’t. So I had to tell him myself. You see, my dad isn’t the sensitive type of guy. He doesn’t cry during movies. He doesn’t get upset when the Rockies lose (“There’s always another year. At least we’re not the Cubs.” are his words) But today, as I watched him read the front cover to me, as we shared one last special moment with the Rocky, there were tears streaming down his face.
He passed the tradition of reading the paper on to me, (at a very young age) so I have many fond memories of the news. Sunday Funnies, every Sunday, no matter what. Those comics were how I learned to read. Once I could actually put sentences together, I started reading baseball articles. Hey, I was four, I didn’t know half of what they were talking about, but it still
made sense to me: baseball. I had found a connection. I can still remember reading a Tracy Ringolsby article for the first time. I can’t recall what it was about, just remembering that I knew he was a very, very good writer. and I liked that he wore a cowboy hat.
All through the 2007 season, the Rocky was there. The ups, the downs, and then the very highest up: the World Series. That memory is always going to be sharp in my mind. The cover, Todd Helton clenching his fist in the air, Byrnes lying on first behind him, and that one magical word: YES!
Even at Coors Field, the Rocky Mountain News could be seen everywhere. There’s a kiosk right by homeplate, a sign right by the jumbotron. The Rocky even sponsors an inbetween inning entertainment: The Blooper Reel.
Yes, as the Rocky closes its doors for the final time, it closes a door to a piece of my childhood and my future. While I will always have the memories with me, it will never be quite the same.
It seems strange that something that seems so trivial, like a newspaper, can be so important to your life. Yet, once you look at all the things that you have been through with it, it’s kind of obvious.
Goodbye, dear friend, you will be missed by many.
P.S. I will have an actual post, involving baseball soon! I promise!
Credit for both the information and the pictures go to rockymountainnews.com