The Turnover Rate at the Rocky Mountain News

The departure of Rocky Mountain News editorial employees who took the tabloid's most recent buyout offer hasn't stopped the march of workers toward the exit. Scribes are splitting on a regular basis, with the two most recent being Darrell Proctor, who's held assorted editing and Web-oriented positions during more than a decade at the paper, and Bianca Prieto, who's written for the Rocky since 2005.

These leave-takings can't be directly pinned on the sad state of newspapering and the perception that any sane person should get out while the gettings good. While Proctor has accepted a non-journalism gig, Prieto is heading to the Orlando Sentinel. However, the comings and goings are no doubt challenging for Rocky management. The occasional shakeup can re-energize the troops -- but when too many folks abandon ship, those who remain begin to worry if there will be enough people left to man the oars.

Rocky managing editor Deb Goeken has written so many goodbye notes about staffers of late that she's been tinkering with format of late. Below, find the missive she sent out on July 24, complete with commentary contributed by Proctor and Prieto:

Everyone: We're bidding farewell to two colleagues - Darrell Proctor, who will become a principal with Golden-based Policy Communications Inc., a public policy and advocacy group for the energy industry, and Bianca Prieto, who will become a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel in Florida.

Here's Darrell's account of his 10-plus years at the Rocky. As you can see, his talents landed him on a lot of our big stories and efforts. And since May, he has played an integral role in our beefed-up web efforts. We'll miss him and wish him well in his new job, where he'll be in charge of designing and producing Web content as well as writing for publications dealing with new energy technologies. He'll also write papers and work as a regulatory advocate with a team of lobbyists in Washington.

After more than a decade at the St. Petersburg Times - as a sportswriter (covering two Super Bowls - and also countless losses by the Buccaneers), Page One Editor (during the first Gulf War and Hurricane Andrew), and then Sports News Editor (when Tampa Bay finally was awarded a major league baseball team) - I came to the Rocky Mountain News in February 1997, working as assistant news editor and remembering two Saturday nights in particular - the death of John Denver, with a late-night call to the airport in Monterey to confirm it, and the death of Princess Diana (our coverage in the next day's Sunday paper was way superior to the Post's on both occasions).

I moved to the city desk in January 2000 (after writing, along with Chris Cubbison, our cover story for Y2K) and recall manning the RV in Clement Park (for an entire week) for our coverage of the first anniversary of Columbine.

I moved to the business section as an assistant business editor in September 2000, at the height of the tech boom, taking over Mile High Tech - but taking time out from that to lead the non-sports coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002, about the time of the dot-com implosion.

I began writing the Mile High Tech blog in spring of 2006, learning the ins and outs of the Web, which eventually led to being involved in posting results live on our Web site during the November 2006 elections (we got results up fast, with no waiting in line). I was named Assistant Internet News Editor in May, part of a new chapter in the history of the Rocky and our Web operation. ------------------

Bianca, an Academy fellow who has shone on the cops beat, is moving to Florida to cover the night cops beat in Orlando, joining fellow ex-Academy member Sarah Langbein. We will miss her, too, but are proud that Bianca - with tons of help and encouragement from her newsroom mentors and fellow reporters and photographers as well as her metro editors - is taking this exciting next step in her growth as a journalist. We wish her all the success in her journalism career.

Here's Bianca's story:

I had my first taste of journalism while attending Fort Lupton High School, where I received an internship at the local newspaper, the Fort Lupton Press. While earning my bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder I interned at the Brighton Standard Blade, the Greeley Tribune and the Denver Post. In July 2005, two months removed from college, I started at the Rocky.

Although I don't have nearly as great a tale to tell as most people in this room, there are several stories that I will always remember. Including the time when Evan Semon and I accidentally broke through a police blockade during a shootout at a Safeway warehouse, or witnessing the devastation of a tornado for the first time in Holly. I've made great friends here and worked with great editors, reporters and photographers.

I start my new job as the night cops reporter at the Orlando Sentinel on Aug. 20.

If the decisions of Proctor and Prieto are any indication, things are getting rocky at the Rocky. -- 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