‘Rocky’ Road: Major Newspaper to Close

The Rocky Mountain News of Denver will be closed after a search for a buyer proved unsuccessful, the paper revealed in a Web story today.

“Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges,” Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of E.W. Scripps, said in a statement quoted in the story. “The Rocky is one of America’s very best examples of what local news organizations need to be in the future. Unfortunately, the partnership’s business model is locked in the past.”

The Rocky has been in a joint operating agreement with The Denver Post since 2001.

On Dec. 4, Scripps announced it was putting up for sale the Rocky and its 50 percent interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency, the company that handles business matters for the papers, because it couldn’t continue to sustain its financial losses in Denver. Scripps said the paper lost $16 million in 2008.

The story revealed a possible buyer emerged by the mid-January deadline to express interest in acquiring the paper, Scripps said. But the buyer was “unable to present a viable plan” for the paper, according to the company’s press release.

The Denver Post’s obit observed:

“A nearly 150-year publishing run will end Friday as the Rocky Mountain News prints its final edition.

“The News becomes the latest casualty in an industry stricken by a spiraling decline in newspaper economics….

“More than 200 newsroom staffers will face their last deadlines and file their final stories after enduring months of nervous uncertainty over the News’ future.

“Known familiarly as the Rocky, the newspaper founded in 1859 was Colorado’s first. It’s believed to be the longest-running business in Denver.”