Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Rocky Mountain News: The voices still echo a year after the paper's death

On the last Thursday of February 2009, I was sitting with the state's newspaper publishers and editors at the annual Colorado Press Association luncheon, waiting for a speech by Governor Bill Ritter, when phones around the room started vibrating: Word had just come down that the Rocky Mountain News would publish its last issue the next day.

News staffers were conspicuously absent from that lunch. And after distributing its final edition the next day, the physical paper disappeared, too, leaving behind empty offices and hundreds of employees whose calendars were suddenly blank.

In the 364 days since the News ceased publication, many of those employees have found jobs (and all too many have not). The nonprofits that relied on the paper to push their arts events and benefits have found other ways to promote themselves (or died trying). And the longtime readers have found ways to otherwise occupy the fifteen minutes they used to spend thumbing through the tabloid over breakfast. But the paper's demise still leaves a huge hole in the heart of Denver, one that resounds with the ghostly echoes of the voices that spoke to us every morning.

The February 27, 2009 edition of the News lives on, seemingly frozen, at www.rockymountainnews.com on the web -- the prime culprit in the demise of the daily newspaper industry.

Take a few minutes today to look back at that final issue, published just 55 days shy of the News's 150th anniversary, and remember what we all lost a year ago.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun