For the last several years, I have shared a Denver Post subscription with one of my many friends named Bob. But I believe we got our last paper yesterday. I just can’t countenance spending the money they ask for the product they deliver.
I don’t blame the staff, what’s left of it, but I have no kind thoughts toward owner Alden Global Capital, which is a hedge fund company, not a newspaper company. A year or so ago, the Post issued an anti-owner editorial about its missing (laid-off) staff, but when readers wanted to know what could be done, the answer was to keep subscribing.
But now the editor who put that piece together is gone, along with most of the remainder of experienced journalists, leaving behind a pulp of stories reprinted from other outlets and a tiny smattering of Colorado news. Section sizes have dwindled, and the features I looked forward to in the Business section are entirely gone.
A lot of former staffers, probably lacking other employment options, continue to write for the Post, but do so now as “special to” rather than “staff writer.” There’s probably a lot less job security and benefits that come with “special”ness. And while these long-time Post employees probably deserve my support, I just can’t do it any longer.
For $144 a year, the Post offers absolutely no compelling reason to stay, so I am going, altering a lifetime habit.
When I was a kid, we were a Post family. There were Post families and then there were News families. I imagine there were “neither” families, but those seemed few and far between, at least in a college town.
Denver had two newspapers, The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Both of their histories stretched way back to the early days of Denver: the News started in Denver’s first year, 1859, and the Post entered the fray in 1892. One of them, and I can’t even remember which, rightfully billed itself as the “Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire.”
By the time I came around (no, not in 1892), both papers were offered statewide, seven days a week. I don’t know why we subscribed to the Post rather than the News — it never occurred to me to question that. Nor did it ever occur to me to question getting a newspaper. It’s just what you did.
I saw my parents reading the paper on a daily basis, and at some point I started too — at least, I read the comics. I must have branched out by high school, because a sports columnist (I still remember his name: Steve “Candid” Cameron) wrote a column belittling women’s participation in sports, and it made me mad enough to write my first letter to the editor. They printed it, too, although I was irritated that they mis-edited my final sentence.
“Candid” had used the ability to hit a 105-mph fastball as his benchmark for women’s sport “impairment.” So I questioned his personal ability to hit a fastball, and said, “If he swings a bat like he pushes a pen, the answer is definitely NO.” But some editor at the post thought that would read better if it said, “the answer definitely is, ‘No.'” There is no chi in that rewrite.
I also delivered the Post, sort of. Tom Dotts had the neighborhood route, and I subbed for him, frequently making my sister Terri help me out. Tiring of his route, Tom was ready to give it up, and he was going to give it to me, but in a maternal network override, his mother gave it to Jeff and Scott Ruffe through their mother. I continued to serve as a sub, and rolling and rubber-banding papers in the early morning cold soon convinced me that lawn and animal care were better choices for me anyway.
When I went off to college, subscriptions were offered for both papers at student rates. Without thought, I signed up for the Post. This was the first time I encountered a population that didn’t feel a need to keep up on the news of Colorado. In fact, I signed up for a basic journalism class and the teacher, a copy editor for the Post’s sports section, required a newspaper subscription as part of the class. His quizzes were easy if one only skimmed headlines — and most of the class, presumably interested in the field of journalism, did quite badly on these tests, suggesting it was too much trouble for them to even glance at a newspaper.
At some point in my adult life I started subscribing to both papers, although the for the last several years I have wondered how I ever found time to work my way through two dailies. I finally dropped my News subscription, but found myself missing — in a throwback to my childhood — their comics. Shortly thereafter, I discovered my friend KT had similarly cut her Post subscription but was missing their comics, so we set up a regular “drop” to exchange the comics pages.
The News, of course, sadly shut down after nearly 150 years, and Denver became a one-paper town, making all statewide paper readers subscribers of the Post. I dropped my subscription somewhere along the way, but continued to get the paper every Sunday courtesy of Bob. And then we he tired of their price increases, I resumed payment, bringing him the Sunday sections he wanted.
But I can’t do it any longer, especially since I spend much of my time with the Washington Post (and half of the Denver Post is nothing but articles from the Washington paper. I was introduced to this paper through a complimentary subscription via my Denver Post association, but last year WaPo (as it calls itself) stopped offering the two-fer.
At the moment (although it’s an introductory rate), the WaPo is about $50 less than the Denver Post (no nickname that I’m aware of). What it won’t give me, though, is Colorado news, unless another man has done away with his wife or fiancee.
So I am going to give the Colorado Sun a try. It’s exclusively on-line, and I don’t know a whole lot about it, except that the staff are the same veteran journalists terminated in the name of cost cutting by the Post. One doesn’t buy a subscription, but a membership, and the suggested donation is at least $60 per year.
To the very core of my being, I believe that newspapers, preferably staffed by educated, tenacious reporters who work diligently to bring you multiple sides of each story, are vital to a democracy. I believe people should read a newspaper, and not just the stories that echo their own beliefs.
The one thing about reading an unformatted paper on-line is that you can cherry-pick. If I turn the pages of the Denver Post, even digitally, I run across headlines I would otherwise miss. I don’t think the Sun offers a formatted version of itself, but I haven’t given it much of a look-see.
For now, though, I’m going to place my money with the journalists who believe in Colorado and not a far-away hedge fund that doesn’t care who is employed at their once-legendary and now paltry excuse of a newspaper. I feel for those who are clinging to their Post jobs, trying their best, but perhaps if more of us support a higher standard in the form of the Sun, it will rise (sorry) with the dawn of a new, improved Colorado media experience.