Another dubious explanation for why the Rocky Mountain News died

The Denver Post may not have ordered all of its columnists and contributors to opine on the closure of the Rocky Mountain News, but it might as well have, since few scribes with access to a working keyboard have resisted the urge thus far. The latest to weigh in is op-ed regular Ed Quillen, whose piece "How the Rocky Hurt Itself" offers a theory every bit as shaky as Jared Polis's the-bloggers-did-it (and-it-was-a-mercy-killing) supposition. In addition to the bad economy, Quillen blames bad decisions by management, including the move to focus circulation on the Denver metro area as opposed to pushing papers into every corner of the state.

No doubt this approach irked Quillen, who's based in Salida. But from a purely financial standpoint, the move was actually among the smarter ones the Rocky team made. Distribution costs have risen precipitously in recent years, and deliveries far from the base of operations, in locales where only a handful of people get the paper, simply aren't cost-effective. The Rocky braintrust came to this conclusion years ago, and while it may have stirred ill will among a handful of folks like Quillen, it had absolutely zero to do with the paper's eventual demise.

As for the Post, which continues to deliver to more parts of the state than the Rocky did in recent years, it may actually be losing money on every subscriber living in remote communities on the Western Slope or the eastern plains. Granted, ending service to such places would spell the end of a long and worthy tradition. But at a time in newspapering when every penny counts -- and when the Internet delivers content far more economically -- the Post would be well advised to bite the bullet, whether it frustrates its Salida correspondent or not.

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