Togetherness

The Daily Camera's new boss prepares to share.

Rumors suggest that some staffers may get a push, too, via buyouts or layoffs designed to reduce the size of the newsroom. Manzi declines to comment, but a moment later, he insists that he's looking to expand one major area of the Camera's operation. "We're going to use a lot of resources to significantly enhance the local reporting arm of this paper in particular," he says. "I think we're going to make this a dramatically better newspaper." He's just as optimistic about financial prospects, declaring that "newspapers are still an extraordinarily good business."

Maybe so. But they're no longer worth going to war over.

Racked again: No wonder so many publications are moving to the web. Not only are costs infinitely lower in cyberspace, but distribution is much simpler, particularly at a time when governmental entities are cracking down on where and how publishers can get their products in front of the public.

In recent years, Boulder and Denver have passed and instituted increasingly restrictive rules about newspaper boxes -- and in September 2005, Denver's Regional Transportation District followed suit. Nearly a year later, on August 21, RTD used these policies to justify the removal of wire racks at two of its most frequented stops: Market Street Station and Civic Center Station. These racks were used by virtually every major publisher in the city for newspapers, real estate guides and plenty more, and the pedestrian traffic volume guaranteed a high pick-up rate. Westword circulation director Curt Sanders estimates that he stocked approximately 1,000 papers over the course of a week at Market Street and nearly 400 more at Civic Center.

Scott Reed, RTD's director of public affairs, says the move was motivated by "continuing problems we had with access, egress, safety and litter." The two stations, which were constructed during the early '80s, "have exceeded the original estimates for capacity," he goes on, "and it became increasingly difficult for everyone. When you'd have people waiting for a bus, and some of them leaving the line to pick up newspapers and then cutting back in, inserts would fall out. I saw a person slip on one a few weeks ago. So we felt that a better solution long-term would be to provide more space for passengers getting on and off buses while at the same time ensuring that newspapers would be readily available outside the stations."

Indeed, spots have been earmarked for racks in the vicinity (at Civic Center, it's near the bus turnaround point), and RTD is sending letters to publishers letting them know that they can apply for permission to set up shop there. But because the placement is less immediate and convenient, the number of items grabbed is all but certain to tumble. It's the equivalent of setting aside a distant supermarket aisle for magazines and tabloids while banning them from placement by the checkout stands.

Granted, treating newspapers like trash makes a certain amount of sense on many days, but there is a difference. At least that's what I tell myself when I can't fall asleep at night.

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