Westword's December feature article about the Rocky Mountain News being put up for sale by E.W. Scripps featured a comment by Jim Monaghan, a spokesman for Denver gazillionaire Phil Anschutz, who's in the newspaper game by dint of his assorted Examiner properties. After Monaghan told reporters that his boss wasn't interested in purchasing the paper, Rocky staffer Jeff Smith quoted a press observer from the Pew Research Center saying that such a denial would be expected if Anschutz was actually considering a bid. To that, Monaghan declared, "I'm too old to play those contorted games. I always love experts who don't know anything about deals and talk hypothetically.... It's something we're really not pursuing."
Nevertheless, Anschutz's name continues to come up whenever the topic of possible Rocky rescuers comes up, even though he seems eager to leave the print world behind. Earlier today, word broke that he's shutting down the Baltimore Examiner, a physical newspaper delivered free to many thousands of local residents, after its February 15 edition. In a letter to Baltimore Examiner employees, Ryan McKibben, the former Denver Post publisher who now heads up Clarity Media, the Anschutz company that oversees the paper, wrote that "The economic dynamics that have ravaged the print media industry also prevented a sale of the Baltimore Examiner."
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Of course, those same dynamics are at play in Denver, too. Given that Anschutz is, first and foremost, a very smart businessman, the chances that he'd be willing to pony up for the Rocky in this economic environment are even smaller now than they were a month or two ago.