I think that Congressman Jared Polis is terribly mistaken that new media killed the Rocky Mountain News. I don’t think so.
The Rocky’s demise was due to several different economic factors coming together at once. It was something that they and the Denver Post did to each other trying to outcompete each other.
I think that John Temple of the Rocky Mountain News said it best in a column that was published with his last edition.
One of the things that led to the decline of the paper was declining circulation. According to Temple, “On Sunday, circulation dropped from about 800,000 to about 600,000. And on Saturday the number fell from about 600,000 to about 450,000.”
This decline with the below national average subscription prices hurt the newspapers. For example, in Denver the average annual rate is $120. In Temple’s article, he added that, “In Chicago, it’s $234. In Phoenix, $200.” That is a big disparity. Readers in Denver were just not into paying more for their paper.
Advertising got pretty bad. If you are an advertiser what are you willing to pay to advertise in two newspapers? Then the Joint Operating Agreement came into place and they tried to raise the rates to a respectable level, but the businesses didn’t want to pay that much so the rates stayed lower than they should have been.
Then you add the current economy and the ability to pay advertising just collapsed putting more pressure on the newspapers.
Finally the Rocky and many more newspapers historically relied too heavily on classified advertising. When Craig’s List and Ebay came to prominence in the last 10 years, the revenues for classified ads took a nose dive.
All these issues coming together are what made Denver a one newspaper town. New media did not do this.
Jared Polis needs to get off his high horse and come into the real world and realize it doesn’t circulate around him. People will find out what is going on around the capital, we don’t need him to become the distributor of content.
We just need people to watch his activities and make sure he is doing his job in the best interest of his constituents.