Contributed by resident newspaperman wannabe, Tilt’d Toledo
They couldn’t have kept her going for another 55 days? That’s less than eight weeks of paycheques. Round One of the playoffs would have barely been underway. The baseball season would have been only a couple of weeks old.
Aside from all of the actual news that we’ll now be missing out on, we will just have to do without this entire month’s worth of Spring Training coverage. Not to mention the first-and-last-ever Avs season post-mortem ever written in April. Could the timing be any worse for a sports fan? I mean, eatng the admittedly huge financial losses for another two months, simply for the sports coverage alone, would have been ridiculous. Although, isn’t this traditionally the peak time of year for selling papers, in part due to the sports section? I dunno much ‘bout no newspaper sellin ‘cept fer to say that baseball scores is right pop’lar wit the gents. And Spring Training brings with it a renewed interest in scanning the daily boxscores. For a century and a half men have made certain to buy a paper, every day of the baseball season. Since the advent of baseball itself, I reckon. For this newspaper-phile, baseball and the paper just go hand-in-ink-stained-hand.
Looking back, the conclusion of the Civil War enabled newspapers to introduce the sports page, as a pleasant distraction - a sort of pick-me-up, or aperitif, to cleanse the mind’s palette after reading the front pages. Before the war, however, newspapers had been viewed overall as a pleasant form of communication, of community, to be anticipated eagerly. For the past 150 years, publishers have tried to regain that trusted position of entertaining pastime, without sacrificing the integrity of the more important / less entertaining hard news. As the front-page stories grew more and more menacing in the 20th century, the back-pages featured necessarily lighter fare, but before there were comic strips or horoscopes or advice columns or personals ads, there was the sports page. But even before that, before the rise of spectator sports, the local newspaper served as a delightful communiqué from a trusted member of the community.
On a late April evening in 1859, in a small office near the present-day corner of Speer Blvd & Auraria Pkwy, some dude named William Newton Byers printed off 500 copies of the inaugural edition of his Rocky Mountain News. His targeted readership consisted of the small mining community that would soon grow up into Denver. Thirty-six years later, in 1895, Rocky’s first true rival was born and christened The Denver Post. For the next hundred years, the two publications competed head-to-head in a circulation war, with Rocky finally re-establishing itself on top, in 1980. Then along came Windows 95, with its handy little Internet Explorer, and suddenly people had access to loads of current information that was not contained in the pages of either Rocky or The Post. Over the next decade, circulation at both publications began to shrink to a low of 210,000 from a peak of 400,000 copies of each paper. As internet newsgroups gave way to newsy weblogs, and while every major news organization started giving away their product for free, the business model started to crumble. The rise of online want ads like Craigslist, and the migration of advertisers to other platforms, drained the last of the revenue streams from the local print media. Something had to give. Why would anyone keep buying that cow?
The current economic conditions proved to be the last nail in Rocky’s coffin, so there will be no paper delivered to your doorstep tomorrow morning.
The very sad news that 228 people are now out of a job, and the realization that Denver is now confined to reading the solitary left-leaning voice of The Post’s editorial page, must not have sunken in to my brain yet. All I can think of right now is, how will this affect me? As in, what am I going to do at next weekend’s baseball draft without any of Tracy Ringolsby’s insights? Or like, how will I know the little details that determine whether I draft a Broncos RB in the 16th round or not at all without Lee Rasizer to gimme the scoop? Or whose hoops articles will I merely skim over without Chris Tomasson’s nuggets of wisdom to ignore? More importantly, with Rick Sadowski now on waivers, will somebody step up and claim him on re-entry, or does he become a victim of Denver’s market-induced, hockey-related salary cap? And who will tell me what to think without Dave Krieger to mould me? The most disturbingly selfish of my questions is, whose livelihood will I now contribute to strangling, so that I may continue aggregating Avs content without paying any royalties?
Rocky provided me with some Pulitzer-quality hyperlinks that I discreetly tucked away mid-sentence. We’re talking about a team that was, just the other day, named among the Top 10 sportswriting teams, by AP Sports Editors (alongside the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, K.C. Star, L.A. Times, Miami Herald, N.Y. Times, USA Today and Washington Post). That’s some pretty heady company, by any standards.
Kudos go out to Dater at The Post, for a fantastic piece from his unique perspective. In honor, allow me to sign off with the closing lines of Stallone’s 1976 opus:
[Adrian sneaks inside the ring]
RMN: Adrian! Hey, where’s your hat?
ADRIAN: I love you, Rocky!
RMN: I love you.