On Friday, most departing members of the Rocky Mountain News put auto-responses on their e-mails, as a way to let readers, tipsters, public-relations types and others know how to reach them in the future. But according to one departing staffer, representatives with the Denver Post and/or the Denver Newspaper Agency disabled this function shortly after Rocky employees left their newsroom for good later that day.
Why does this matter? For journalists who hope to stay in the profession either by landing a full-time position at another news organization or by freelancing in this market or beyond, such contacts are absolutely key. And to make matters worse, the aforementioned staffer points out, e-mailers aren't receiving notices telling them that their message is undeliverable, or that the person they're trying to reach is no longer with the organization. The notes or releases could be winding up in the cyber-space equivalent of a black hole without the sender knowing it -- or perhaps someone's forwarding them to others at the Post in like positions. Under this last scenario, a Post reporter on a certain beat would suddenly have access to his onetime rival's best sources, leaving the journalist who spent years or even decades generating them out in the cold.
To the victor go the spoils. But for at least one ex-Rocky employee, this info blockade gives a hollow ring to some of the kind words Posters offered to their out-of-work peers last week.
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Update, 10:53 a.m.: Just received a note from the staffer who provided the information from this blog, letting me know that at least one ex-Rocky journalist has gotten the auto-reply feature to work. It's possible the system was glitchy -- or perhaps the folks at the Post changed strategies, either due to complaints or a sudden attack of good sense...