Rocky editor and publisher John Temple at the February 2009 press conference announcing the paper's closure.
Rocky editor and publisher John Temple at the February 2009 press conference announcing the paper's closure.
Photo by J. Knight

Dead Newspapers of the 21st Century and the Denver Post's Fight for Survival

Ever since the Denver Post announced that it would be laying off thirty employees, or approximately one-third of its newsroom staff, readers have worried about the venerable broadsheet disappearing entirely. And while such a fate doesn't seem imminent, particularly given the goodwill generated by the paper's bold editorial attack on its "vulture" hedge-fund owner, Alden Global Capital, earlier this month, the difficulty of keeping a print newspaper alive in the 21st century is very real, as illustrated by the following list of publications that have gone bust since the dawn of the millennium.

Finding out how many papers have died during this period has proven to be extremely challenging. We contacted organizations such as the National Newspaper Association, the News Media Alliance and the Pew Research Center and learned that none of them track this information or have assembled such a list.

The closest thing to a roster of this sort that we were able to find online is a Wikipedia page devoted to "Defunct Newspapers of the United States." But the data on it proved to be woefully inconsistent and only occasionally listed dates for final publication, making our goal of creating a definitive run-down impossible. Our best guess is that the following 37 publications, whose demises we were able to confirm (they include Denver's Rocky Mountain News, which shut down in February 2009), represent the tip of the iceberg.

At present, most major U.S. cities still have a daily newspaper, and that's likely to remain the case in Denver for the foreseeable future. How long it'll be called the Denver Post is another question. In recent days, a group led by Colorado Springs publisher John Weiss has gone public with efforts to line up deep-pocket types interested in buying the Post from Alden. But the local billionaire with the greatest interest in newspapers, Phil Anschutz, may have an alternate plan. Several years ago, Anschutz's former right-hand man told ex-reporter turned Denver City Council member Kevin Flynn that his boss planned to wait until the Post hit bottom, then purchase its assets, shut it down and resurrect the Rocky as a non-union paper.

Don't count out the Post, though. Editorial-page editor Chuck Plunkett, the mastermind behind the insurrectionist columns that made national headlines (and served as Weiss's inspiration), as well as editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, who supported his efforts when others in her position might have folded like a card table, show that there's plenty of fight left in the journalists who remain at the paper. Still, there's no doubt they're currently involved in a risky game, and the stakes for the Post are life and death.

Continue to see the aforementioned list of newspapers that have folded since 2000, illustrated by photos from the press conference announcing the Rocky's demise.

A plaque commemorating the joint operating agreement that involved the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, photographed in 2009.
A plaque commemorating the joint operating agreement that involved the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, photographed in 2009.
Photo by J. Knight

National newspapers:

The Spotlight
Died in 2001

Alabama:

The Hoover Gazette
Died in 2007

The Birmingham Post-Herald
Died in 2005

Alaska:

Insurgent49
Died in 2006

Arizona:

Tucson Citizen
Died in 2014

California:

Alameda Times-Star
Died in 2011

The Argus (Fremont)
Died in 2016

The Hayward Daily Review
Died in 2016

Hokubei Mainichi
Died in 2009

Napa Sentinel
Died in 2011

Nichi Bei Times
Died in 2009

North Country Times
Died in 2012

Oakland Tribune
Died in 2016

San Francisco Bay Guardian
Died in 2014

Former reporter Lynn Bartels meeting the press at the announcement of the paper's closure. Bartels is currently the spokesperson for the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.
Former reporter Lynn Bartels meeting the press at the announcement of the paper's closure. Bartels is currently the spokesperson for the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.
Photo by J. Knight

Colorado:

The Rocky Mountain News
Died in 2009

Florida:

Boca Raton News
Died in 2009

Georgia:

The Daily Sun
Died in 2003

Hawaii:

Honolulu Weekly
Died in 2013

Molokai Island Times
Died in 2008

Illinois:

The Post Amerikan
Died in 2004

Indiana:

The Hagerstown Exponent
Died in 2004

The Paper (Elkhart)
Died in 2000

Maryland:

The Cumberland Times-News
Died in 2009

The Owings Mill Times
Died in 2006

The Baltimore Examiner
Died in 2009

Massachusetts:

The Boston Phoenix
Died in 2013

Editorial Humor
Died in 2003

A tribute to freedom of the press in the Denver Post building, as photographed in 2009.
A tribute to freedom of the press in the Denver Post building, as photographed in 2009.
Photo by J. Knight

Nebraska:

The Heartland Messenger
Died in 2008

New Hampshire:

The Citizen (Laconia)
Died in 2010

New Mexico:

Albuquerque Tribune
Died in 2008

New York:

The New York Sun
Died in 2008

The Syracuse Herald-Journal
Died in 2001

Ohio:

The Cincinnati Post
Died in 2007

Pennsylvania:

America (Philadelphia)
Died in 2013

Rhode Island:

Providence Phoenix
Died in 2014

Virginia:

The News & Messenger
Died in 2012

Wisconsin:

The Green Bay News-Chronicle
Died in 2005

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