Behind the News

The last days of a Denver newspaper

I meant to post this e-mail a while back when the Rocky Mountain News closed shop, but it became lost in my inbox. Nonetheless, I still think it’s important for those reporters who have (so far) survived the painful layoffs at their newspapers.

The e-mail is written by a Denver Post reporter in response to a question about how she felt about the Rocky Mountain News‘ demise.

A big thanks to the reporter who forwarded this to me after he became a self-proclaimed member of LOJA — that is Laid-Off Journalists of America

Here’s the e-mail (without any edits):

It’s been an awful month for Denver newspapers. First The Post laid off six managers. Then the rest of us were told our pay/benefits would be cut by an average of 13 percent. Then the Rocky closed. I worked there four years before I came to The Post, and I knew so many of the faces in their photo galleries and videos … very sad.

I’ve never worked as journalist in a town that didn’t have two newspapers — even Iowa City had the Daily Iowan.

And now we have hired 11 Rocky staffers (thus the laid off managers) to try to retain their readers. Supposedly we are all one big family now. It’s hard not be bitter. They get jobs at the expense of my friends, plus they come in with at least 2 months pay in severance (plus whatever the Guild negotiates) while our pay is getting cut. But this is the new reality, and I need to embrace it.

And I still get a paycheck, and it hasn’t bounced. My owner hasn’t filed for bankruptcy or put us up for sale. We still print seven days a week. So I guess I’m better off than many journalists.

I’ve been looking for work in another field for a year already — I just dont’ want to go where newspapers are going. I was into working with my reporters on stories that mattered to people’s lives and giving them information they needed about their communities. Telling people’s stories and adding to the public discourse. We don’t get to do that much any more around here. Our staff is cut, our newshole is cut and more and more resources go online. And that online audience isn’t the same as the print audience. Many days now I feel like a TV news producer — all small bites with no substance.

But it’s up to me make a change, and I dont’ want to take a big pay cut or leave Denver, so I’m picky about what I apply for. Last year I was a finalist for three communications jobs. During the interviews I was told each time that more than 250 had applied. I know it will take awhile.

Especially with 200-plus Rocky colleagues now in the job market. …

God bless us all