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The Demise of Print Media: Farewell to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain News

Today is the last day for Colorado’s Rocky Mountain News. It is a passing of the guard for our state as this form of communication is dying and The Denver Post will be the sole survivor for the Denver metro. In addition to the 200+ newsroom staffers out of a job, the demise of The Rocky Mountain News is real blow for Colorado as one of our oldest businesses with roots back to 1859.

While we will miss our Rocky Mountain News, Denver is a mid-tier large city which challenges the limits of supporting two local papers. However, earlier this week, media mogul Hearst Corp. said it may close its San Francisco Chronicle  newspaper, the nation’s 12th largest daily and Northern California’s largest daily. Last month it declared that it would close its money-losing Seattle Post-Intelligencer unless a buyer emerged within 60 days. To date, no purchaser has stepped forward in Seattle, just as no buyers have been announced for the Miami Herald, the Austin American-Statesman, and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The bankruptcy filing of Philadelphia Media Holdings could deliver the deathblow to the Philadelphia Daily News. Journal Register Co. sought bankruptcy protection last Friday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune sought protection in January and Tribune Co, sought protection in December of 2008. Read about details of the newspaper industry and its troubles in Reflections of a Newsosaur by Alan Mutter.

This year’s annual convention of newspaper editors has been canceled so their publications can save money and focus on surviving the recession. It’s just the second time that American Society of Newspaper Editors hasn’t convened. The last time occurred during the final months of World War II in 1945. The newspaper editors convention was supposed to be held from April 26-29 in Chicago.

The recession is advancing a trend we have seen for several years: the labor costs of running a newspaper are increasing relative to lower readership and ad revenues. Print media in its many forms is threatened as people read their news, for free, on the Internet before it hits the newspapers. I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. The benefit is the depth of the articles compared to on-line articles, which I value. For many, newspapers don’t get us the news quickly enough as we have become social media and social network junkies. I keep Twitter open much of the day, which points me to the news as it’s happening through “Twitscoop.”

As a competitive intelligence professional and researcher, I am troubled by the demise of newspapers, not unlike the lower readership of books. We have become a nation with short attention spans, and while “6 or 10 points of how to do something,” might be interesting, it is cursory communication. In-depth news and books is really how you learn, grow, develop leadership and expertise, and we are losing this. We are also losing our connection with journalists, who are experts in their field, unlike bloggers who are often “self appointed” experts.

What do you think about the demise of print media and lower readership of books in favor of electronic news and social media?

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