Growing better key to survival

Posted 3/4/09

As word spread last week that the Rocky Mountain News would publish its final edition, the entire metro area seemed gripped by a discussion of the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Growing better key to survival


As word spread last week that the Rocky Mountain News would publish its final edition, the entire metro area seemed gripped by a discussion of the state of journalism in today’s world.

A lot of blame was being tossed around. I heard some say that the liberal bias of newspapers (their words, not mine) finally caught up with the paper. I heard one woman celebrate the demise of the Rocky because errors showed up in her father’s obituary printed in 1972.

On the flip side, and possibly the most troubling of the perspectives I heard, came from people hammering away at the anti-newspaper crowd, calling them small-minded, uninformed, or characterizing the subscription declines of big dailies nationwide as a sign of the dumbing down of our society. There was an elitist tone to those arguments that I think existed in this industry for some time and started many media companies down the dark road they’re on today.

I think the fate of the Rocky Mountain News mistakenly became a referendum on the state of journalism from the intellectual perspective. To me, that line of thinking misses the point entirely.

Newspapers like ours and the Rocky Mountain News are businesses, pure and simple. There is something about the kind of business we’re in that causes people to forget that and it’s flattering in some regards. We’re referred to as the Fourth Estate, putting us in line with executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, with all the expectations, criticisms and trust (or mistrust, depending on where you stand) that comes with it.

But the fact is, we’re private businesses subject to all of the pitfalls other businesses face in a capital market place. We have to know our customers, serve them, invest in our business where it makes the most sense for future growth that will drive the revenue that keeps us alive.

The role of journalism in a media organization is an interesting one. Many people see it as the whole organization, but it is simply one of the most visible. It must be strong for the business to be strong, but it can’t compensate for all aspects of the business.

I don’t think the failure of the Rocky Mountain News means journalism is dead. My grandfather was the most avid reader of newspapers I’ve ever known. Friends of mine, including those who hate The Media and don’t subscribe and are labeled as part of the dumbing-down trend by others, read more on a daily basis than my grandfather ever did. His news was delivered from a local newspaper office by a neighbor kid on a bike. My friends get theirs delivered from outlets all over the world by RSS feeds.

There are more options out there and we, as media organizations, simply have to be smarter about positioning ourselves for success.

Saturday night, I sat with a group of coworkers at the Brown Palace Hotel to hear the results of the Colorado Press Association’s annual newspaper contest for excellence in journalism. We collected some 13 awards, including some for the kind of comprehensive, analytical work that I think will make us successful in years to come.

Hours before, traffic on our Web sites hit a new all-time high with more than half a million page views for the month of February. At the same time, I came away from the convention inspired by the ideas of others that highlighted areas where we must grow as a news organization if we’re going to survive. We are in a constant state of getting better. We have to be.

By the way, the Rocky Mountain News earned best of show honors for editorial content.

Jeremy Bangs is the managing editor of Colorado Community Newspapers. His e-mail address is


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.