Sunday, March 01, 2009

Media got it wrong about Denver's newspapers

If you're like me, you've read a dozen stories by now about the death of Denver's Rocky Mountain News, which closed just short of its 150th birthday. The Rocky had been battling head to head with The Denver Post for more than a century. But every story I've seen has suggested that after the Rocky's final issue on Friday, Denver had become a one newspaper town.

Actually, Denver has a successful free daily newspaper that has been plugging along for eight years: The Denver Daily News, circulation 10,000.

It may not be a paid newspaper nor as large as the Post or Rocky, but it makes money and serves the community with news five days a week. The paper's distribution area includes the upscale Lodo neighborhood and most of downtown Denver.

Owner Jim Pavelich says newspapers need to be able to adapt to a changing business model if they are to expect to survive.

“Newspapers are not a dying industry, they’re a changing one,” Pavelich says, according to a story in his own paper. “It’s sad to see such an institution shut down, but we’ve expected it for years."

"That’s why we started the Denver Daily News eight years ago. The days of the big monopoly newspapers are done, but we think our model leaves room for growth," he explains.


The closure of the Rocky means another change in ownership of Boulder's Colorado Daily, one of the earliest free daily newspaper. The Rocky's owner, E.W. Scripps Co., was partners with the Post's owner, MediaNews Group, in a number of publications in the Denver area including the Boulder Daily Camera and its Colorado Daily. With Scripps pulling out of Denver, it has turned over ownership of those papers to MediaNews, headed by Dean Singleton of Denver.

Singleton is quoted in the Post as saying he sees opportunities for for joint projects between the Post and the Boulder papers. For instance, instead of both the Post and Camera each assigning a reporter to cover the Denver Broncos, the papers will share the work of one reporter.

The Colorado Daily, which had been an independent newspaper from the early 1970s until about two years ago, now shares office space with the Boulder Daily Camera, which had long been its competitor.

The Colorado Daily was the student newspaper at the University of Colorado in Boulder until 1971 when the university's regents kicked it off campus due to its anti-Vietnam War views. It became a viable, independent community newspaper over the next couple of decades while never dropping its liberal politics. Now, ironically, it is headed Singleton, who was one of George W. Bush's major fundraisers.