In yesterday's blog "The Denver Dailies: No Post-Election Shrinkage Yet," I argued that the hefty size of the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post shouldn't be interpreted as a sign that the newspaper business is back on track. More indicative of the current reality is the decision by E.W. Scripps and MediaNews Group, the owners of the Rocky and the Post, respectively, to put the headquarters building of the jointly held Boulder Daily Camera on the block.
Obviously, times are mighty tough in the Boulder journalism business. After all, it's only been a few months since Scripps chose to sell the HQ of the Camera's sister paper, the Colorado Daily, and move staffers from the latter publication into the very space that's now being peddled.
The decision to make employees at the Camera and the Daily cohabitate was a culture shocker for those longtime Boulderites who remember the days when the papers were mortal enemies; read the details in "Tale of a Daily Newspaper Odd Couple," a Message column from May. In contrast, the announcement about the impending sale of the Camera's operations base is far less surprising. The recent move of printing operations to the Denver Newspaper Agency, which resulted in around fifty layoffs, made an eventual shift all but inevitable.
Nonetheless, the development remains disheartening, especially in light of the fact that there's no firm plan for where the Camera and the Daily will relocate on the odd chance that Scripps and MediaNews can find a buyer for the property in this hideous real estate market. Camera president and publisher Al Manzi says he'd like to lease space in the building from a new owner -- but if the buyer isn't interested in doing so, Boulder's two daily newspapers might wind up homeless.
Sadly, this situation is far more indicative of the state of daily newspapers than are a few extra pages in the Rocky and the Post this week. -- Michael Roberts