Why save the Denver Post?

As I predicted right here on Mediamum.net in March 2009 when the Rocky Mountain News folded, Colorado’s the Denver Post is now also in trouble. Its owners are asking for bankruptcy protection.

They’re still not humble.

I’m hearing professional journalists and academics in journalism blame all sorts of things for this situation:

1. Falling ad revenues (you know, that’s a failure of the business model that the traditional media organizations have held onto like a liferaft with a hole in it). The Washington Times reports advertising revenue has fallen 40% since 2005, according to the Newspaper Association. It’s the advertisers’ fault.

2. Reader ADHD. People just aren’t interested in “real” news any more. They’d rather read about Ashton and Demi than Haiti. It’s the reader’s fault.

3. Too many people don’t respect the value of newsprint. Everyone is too ready to go online for a format of news that suits them. It’s the internet’s fault.

I’ve heard it all. Except for the truth. It’s the newspapers’ fault.

When the Denver Post runs stories that are simply repetitious of ones posted days earlier, like this one on skiing and helmets, it’s not professional.

When the Denver Post lets its reader comments run along with no moderation on the LEAD story yesterday (I’m not kidding) about a Colorado evangelist’s wife who is trying to forgive him over various indescretions, it’s not professional. (That’s right, The Denver Post thinks you should be happy to pay for this crap.)

My point is, that unless newspapers wake up, get humble, and realise they are creating content for an audience that has a discretionary choice across many formats, they will continue to close – and until professional journalists and editors start creating and moderating content worth paying for across these formats, they deserve to close.

The bells have been tolling for a long time. Take your fingers out of your ears.

3 comments

  • agreed. it was totally clear a year ago that the Post’s owner, Dean Singleton, was in big trouble. of course, he’s the only one NOT losing money on this bankruptcy deal (tho he is losing a portion of his ownership), while others are losing hundreds of millions (Hearst)…

    meanwhile, they do little online that could be considered special. except for, i guess, headlines like this one: Local surgeon heading to Haiti, with victims’ limbs on the line

  • Thanks Fish. Yes, today’s front pager is an improvement. But there are no links, and the story is built around a certain amount of personal (if professional) conjecture. Would have been nice to see the reporter link to some statistics, or at least give the opportunity for other medical professionals to contact relevant authorities and offer assistance. On the other hand, today’s story on the Jack Russell Terrier and its reader comments are so pathetic as “professional journalism” they make my eyes burn. http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_14238364

  • Twitter is largely responsible, it actually encourages ADHD.
    Unfortunately, the traditional media HAS to embrace this new media, or get out of the way, there is no stopping of Twitter juggernaut anytime soon.

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