Colorado Daily Paper Closes Pages For Good

DENVER (AP) - On the day his newspaper published its final
edition, Rocky Mountain News Editor John Temple advised a gathering
of Colorado journalists to focus on local news and suggested
creating online content that niche audiences might pay for.

"It's not realistic to think in this day and age that people
are going to have one information source and you're going to be it.
You try, you die," Temple told the Colorado Press Association
convention on Friday.

"If you're not experimenting, then I think you're in trouble,"
said Temple, who also held the titles of publisher and president.

The E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the News, announced Thursday
that the Friday edition would be the newspaper's last after nearly
150 years in business.

"Goodbye, Colorado," read the headline on a 52-page
commemorative edition wrapping the regular newspaper Friday. "STOP
THE PRESSES," read the front-page headline inside.

Mike Simonton, a bond analyst at Fitch Ratings, said a number of
other newspapers could close by the end of 2010, and those that
survive will be focused on local news with smaller staffs and less
printed content.

Four owners of 33 U.S. daily newspapers have sought Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection in the past 2 1/2 months, and a number of
other newspapers are up for sale.

"We think this downturn is incremental to a very severe
longer-term pressure from the Internet," Simonton said. "Many of
the newspaper groups are in dire financial situations. We believe
there will be more newspaper group bankruptcies and more newspapers closing over the next two years."

Scripps said the News lost $16 million last year. In December, the company put the News up for sale, along with its 50 percent
stake in the Denver Newspaper Agency, which handled business
operations for the News and its rival, The Denver Post, under a
joint operating agreement. No viable buyer came forward.

Under the JOA, approved in 2001, the newspapers shared business
operations while keeping their newsrooms separate. Both papers
published every weekday. The Post, owned by MediaNews Group Inc.,
published Sunday editions while the News handled the Saturday
edition.

On Friday, The Post prepared to publish a Saturday print edition
for its readers and for News subscribers, who will now get The Post
for the length of their subscriptions.

Post Editor Greg Moore said his newspaper didn't consider an
online-only edition for the first Saturday. After Scripps' Dec. 4
announcement that the News was for sale, he said, "we knew this
might happen. ... So I've had a lot of time to prepare for this."

William Dean Singleton, chairman and publisher of The Post and
CEO of MediaNews, has said he would like to keep at least 80
percent of News subscribers. Simonton said that was a realistic
goal since those subscribers have shown they value a printed
product.

The Post has hired 10 News staffers, including columnists, and
is picking up features and comics that the News published.

"We're going to make a play to get all those readers over time,
and to keep them," Moore said.

The overlap in readership for the newspapers is roughly 14,000,
according to the Denver Newspaper Agency. There were no immediate
plans to raise ad, subscription or newsstand prices.

The Saturday edition of The Post will include a new home section
called "Inside and Out" and features on things to do on the
weekend, Moore said.

Singleton, who is also chairman of the board of The Associated
Press, has said Denver could support only one newspaper. He said
Thursday he was confident his newspaper would survive.

The state Senate paused Friday morning to lament the closing of
the News and applauded one of its statehouse reporters, Ed
Sealover, who had stepped into the chamber.

Republican state Sen. Shawn Mitchell, one of the Senate's most
vocal debaters, said he wouldn't even try to be eloquent.

"It's sad. I'm sad. Goodbye Rocky Mountain News," he said.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors announced Friday it
was canceling its annual convention, scheduled for April, so
newspapers can save money and focus on surviving the recession. The last time the group canceled was during the final months of World
War II in 1945.

Temple said despite the tough times, the news still matters to
people.

"I'm not pessimistic about the future of journalism at all,"
he said.


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