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The Rocky Piles Up Borrowed Content

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An item in the November 22, 2007 Message talks about an arrangement between the Rocky Mountain News and the Colorado Springs Gazette to share reportage -- an arrangement that has led to bylines from one paper regularly appearing in the other. This deal isn't an exclusive one, though, and in recent months, the Rocky has consistently used articles from a slew of Colorado publications in its local news section. As a result, the tab sometimes seems to be as much a content amalgamator as a producer of original material.

The March 10 issue is a case in point, with the pile of pieces from outsiders nearly as large as the one created in-house.

The 24 pages of the edition's local-news presentation feature nineteen articles, and Rocky-generated items are front-loaded: The first six offerings are self-produced. From that point on, however, the mix tilts in the other direction -- five more articles with Rocky bylines, but eight from other sources. The Associated Press contributes four of them, the Boulder Daily Camera two, and the Gazette and the Daily Sentinel (based in Grand Junction) one apiece.

The final score is 11-8, with the home team winning. Still, the modest size of victory is worrisome, particularly given that the margin is fairly typical these days. The Rocky's staff is smaller than it's been at any time in recent memory due to the impact of buyouts and attrition, and in order to fill its diminishing number of pages, the paper is getting by with a little help from its friends, all of whom are in pretty much the same situation. -- Michael Roberts

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