The last front page of the Rocky Mountain News, printed February 27, 2009.
|Owner||E. W. Scripps Company, Operated by Denver Newspaper Agency|
|Ceased publication||February 27, 2009|
|Headquarters||101 West Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80202
|Circulation||255,427 Daily (March 2006)
704,806 Sunday (March 2006)[footnotes 1]
The Rocky Mountain News (nicknamed the Rocky ) was a daily newspaper published in Denver, Colorado, United States from April 23, 1859, until February 27, 2009. It was owned by the E. W. Scripps Company from 1926 until its closing. As of March 2006, the Monday-Friday circulation was 255,427. From the 1940s until 2009, the newspaper was printed in a tabloid format.
Under the leadership of president, publisher and editor John Temple, the Rocky Mountain News had won four Pulitzer Prizes since the year 2000. Most recently in 2006, the newspaper won two Pulitzers, in Feature Writing and Feature Photography. The News' final issue appeared on Friday, February 27, 2009. The paper's demise left Denver a one-newspaper town with the Denver Post as the sole remaining large-circulation daily.
The Rocky Mountain News was founded by William N. Byers and John L. Dailey along with Dr. George Monell and Thomas Gibson on April 23, 1859, when present-day Denver was part of the Kansas Territory and before the city of Denver had been incorporated. It became Colorado's oldest newspaper and possibly its longest continuously operated business. Its first issue was printed on a printing press from Omaha, Nebraska hauled by oxcart during the start of the Colorado Gold Rush. That first issue was printed only 20 minutes ahead of its rival, the Cherry Creek Pioneer.
The E.W. Scripps Company bought the Rocky Mountain News in 1926. The Rocky Mountain News and its competitors, including The Denver Post, resorted to gasoline giveaways and other promotions in an attempt to boost circulation. By the early 1940s, the Rocky Mountain News had nearly died.
It was saved by then editor Jack Foster when he convinced Scripps to approve changing the newspaper from a broadsheet format to a tabloid design. Foster reasoned that the new format would make it easier for readers to hold and navigate and would make advertising more affordable.
Foster's wife, Frances, introduced America's first "advice" column, called Molly Mayfield. It became an instant favorite among readers and was soon adopted in many other newspapers, paving the way for advice columnists such as Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren.
After a continued rivalry that almost put both papers out of business, the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post merged operations in 2001 under a joint operating agreement. Through the JOA, the Denver Newspaper Agency was formed. The new company ran all non-editorial operations of both papers, namely advertising and circulation, and is equally owned by the E. W. Scripps Company and MediaNews Group, which owns The Denver Post.
The two newspapers continued to publish separately (except during the weekends, when the Rocky Mountain News was published only on Saturday and The Denver Post only on Sunday; each newspaper had one page of editorials in the other paper's weekend edition) and maintained their rivalry.
Following the shutdown of the Rocky on February 27, 2009, the Post resumed seven-day-a-week publication.
On January 23, 2007, the Rocky Mountain News was redesigned to a smaller, magazine-style format. The redesign's features included more color pages and photographs, full-page photo section covers, a new masthead logo, and different page numbering from the previous design.
The redesign was the result of new presses that allowed the newspaper to print about 25 percent faster than its old presses, at an average speed of 60,000 issues per hour.
On December 4, 2008, E.W. Scripps & Co. put the News up for sale, with industry analysts saying the move was possibly a prelude to shutting down the paper. Although Scripps was contacted by one private equity investor from Texas who expressed interest, that potential deal foundered for reasons that included complications of the joint operating agreement. On February 26, 2009, Scripps announced the newspaper would print its final edition the next day. Scripps said it will now offer for sale the masthead, archives and Web site of the Rocky, separate from its interest in the newspaper agency.
On March 16, 2009, several former Rocky Mountain News staffers announced the development of a new on-line, real-time local newspaper. The plan for a new online newspaper, with a staff of about 30 journalists, needed 50,000 subscriber pledges before April 23, 2009, in order to start; if that subscription goal was met, the full INDenver Times website was scheduled to launch on May 4, 2009. On April 23, 2009, INDenver Times, the name for the proposed restart, reported that the premium content subscription model had gotten only 3,000 subscribers. The three co-founders said that they did not intend to continue the planned business model, and, instead, would create a less-staffed news site. Steve Foster and several former Rocky Mountain News journalists said that they believed that the original business model of a robustly staffed online alternative newspaper could succeed and were looking for new backers.
INDenver Times, now online, does not use the subscription model, instead depending on advertising for its revenue. Kevin Prebuld (co-founder), Brad Gray (co-founder), Ben Ray (co-founder), Steve Haigh (editor), and contributors Drew Litton and Ed Stein are the only remaining staff from the original venture. The site relies on 15 contributors and 6 "INSighters." On September 7, 2009, INDT.com unveiled a new website design, allowing readers to read the news in a more organized format.
On July 4, 2009, Steve Foster and several former Rocky Mountain News employees, launched a new venture known as the Rocky Mountain Independent. The new website uses a three-pronged revenue strategy: advertising, subscription revenues, and outside contributors. Subscriptions cost $4.00 per month and yearly subscriptions are at 50% for the first 3 months, at $24. The twelve owners of the website committed to working for free until the end of September 2009