The pros and cons of the Denver dailies' post-election editions

The front page of the November 5, 2008 Rocky Mountain News.

It was a pleasure to look through the post-election print editions of the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post. Both papers stepped up big-time, delivering hefty issues filled with vivid photos and articles whose attempts to provide instant analysis on a legitimately historical occurrence will be even more fun to read in future years, when we'll have the benefit of perspective even the most objective observers lack today. They're keepers -- at least for readers of a certain age, who still retain an increasingly nostalgic connection to physical products.

But in terms of practicality, the actual papers fare poorly in comparison with the newspapers' own websites.

Again this year, Colorado has been damnably slow when it comes to tallying ballots -- and as a result, the Rocky and the Post had to go to press long before final numbers were available. This time around, there weren't a slew of nail-bitingly close races. But when it came to various amendments, reporters were still forced to use an unnatural tense in their accounts. For example, the lead on the Post article "Voters Pull Plug on Attempt to Weaken TABOR" reads, "Coloradans on Tuesday night were shooting down an amendment that would have weakened the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and allowed the state to keep more of their money."

This assertion was based on reports from 37 percent of precincts -- and the percentages held steady overnight, as shown by a look at the Post's election page. But while Internet users can confirm these findings right away, print-only readers are left to wait for 24 hours -- a ridiculous delay in this age of lightning-quick information dissemination.

Today's Denver dailies are terrific souvenirs. But as much as those of us in the newspaper business hate to admit it, they represent an antiquated system for delivering breaking news, as each major event -- including the one last night -- makes increasingly clear. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts