Five Rocky stars who could be going up

Employees of the Rocky Mountain News work on the fifth floor of the Denver Newspaper Agency building, one level beneath their peers at the Denver Post — and if the Rocky folds, some of them may be pushing a different elevator button shortly thereafter.

The theory is that the Post would like to convince as many Rocky subscribers as possible to switch allegiances, and notable names from the tabloid might serve as a lure. This effort makes sense, since crossover subscriptions are far from automatic. The Houston Chronicle set the modern standard, increasing its circulation 32 percent in the six months after the rival Houston Post closed. The Dallas Morning News didn't fare as well, getting a 25 percent boost after the Dallas Times-Herald faltered — and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch grew only 16 percent upon the 1986 demise of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

To solidify its financial situation, the Post can't afford for eight of every ten Rocky subscribers to decide that a newspaper is a luxury they can no longer afford. With that in mind, here are the five Rocky writers most likely to keep them paying.

Mike Littwin

Sure, the Post already has two metro columnists (Susan Greene and William Porter), who were chosen in part because they weren't ideologues — which the liberal Littwin most certainly is. But he's also smart and consistently funny, displaying a common touch that's all too rare. Plenty of conservatives who hate what he stands for enjoy his prose despite themselves.

Lynn Bartels

No Denver-area journalist works harder than Bartels, an aggressive reporter (and fierce Rocky partisan) with the best sources in the business. She's respected by officials on both sides of the political divide, which explains the inordinate number of scoops she scores. As a bonus, she's got a slangy, accessible style that makes even the most complex topics fun to read.

Dave Krieger

Krieger is the most intelligent sports columnist in the market, and the one most likely to connect actions on the field to the world beyond. Following the January 1, 2007, murder of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, Krieger took on the topic of gang violence in ways that challenged his audience in the best possible way. He earns the high esteem in which he's held.

Tracy Ringolsby

One of the most identifiable reporters in the state thanks to his trademark cowboy hat and frequent TV appearances, Ringolsby was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He's covered the Colorado Rockies since their birth, and while his critics wish he'd be tougher on the team, no one argues with his knowledge of the game, which is unparalleled in these parts.

David Milstead

A business writer par excellence, Milstead is gifted with the ability to make complex subjects understandable for those who don't have a degree from Wharton. He's also willing to take on all comers, even his own employer. He caused a stir in July with a column that declared, "It's time to admit that we can no longer be a two-newspaper town." Unfortunately, those are words he won't have to eat.

 
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