The Rocky Mountain News publishes its last paper tomorrow.
Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Rocky-owner Scripps, broke the news to the staff at noon today, ending nearly three months of speculation over the paper’s future.
“People are in grief,” Editor John Temple said a noon news conference.
But he was intent on making sure the Rocky’s final edition, which would include a 52-page wraparound section, was as special as the paper itself.
“This is our last shot at this,” Temple said at a second afternoon gathering at the newsroom. “This morning (someone) said it’s like playing music at your own funeral. It’s an opportunity to make really sweet sounds or blow it. I’d like to go out really proud.”
Boehne told staffers that the Rocky was the victim of a terrible economy and an upheaval in the newspaper industry…
…Several employees wanted to know about severance packages, or even if they could buy at discount their computers.
Others were critical of Scripps for not seeking wage concessions first or going online only…
…Today’s announcement comes as metropolitan newspapers and major newspaper companies find themselves reeling, with plummeting advertising revenues and dramatically diminished share prices. Just this week, Hearst, owner of the San Francisco Chronicle, announced that unless it was able to make immediate and steep expense cuts it would put the paper up for sale and possibly close it. Two other papers in JOAs, one in Seattle and the other in Tucson, are facing closure in coming weeks.
The Rocky was founded in 1859 by William Byers, one of the most influential figures in Colorado history. Scripps bought the paper in 1926 and immediately began a newspaper war with The Post. That fight ebbed and flowed over the course of the rest of the 20th century, culminating in penny-a-day subscriptions in the late ’90s.
Perhaps the most critical step for the Rocky occurred in 1942, when then-Editor Jack Foster saved it by adopting the tabloid style it has been known for ever since. Readers loved the change, and circulation took off.
In the past decade, the Rocky has won four Pulitzer Prizes, more than all but a handful of American papers. Its sports section was named one of the 10 best in the nation this week. Its business section was cited by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers as one of the best in the country last year. And its photo staff is regularly listed among the best in the nation when the top 10 photo newspapers are judged.
Staffers were told to come in Friday to collect personal effects…
…for the rest, go to the Rocky web site. While it lasts.