The Rocky Mountain News, Colorado's oldest newspaper founded in 1859, will close its doors and publish its last issue on Friday, February 27.
"Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges," Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps Howard, said in a statement. "The Rocky is one of America's very best examples of what local news organizations need to be in the future. Unfortunately, the partnership's business model is locked in the past."
Of note to cartoon fans is the fate of two employees in particular: Editorial cartoonist Ed Stein and sports cartoonist Drew Litton, both Rocky employees for over 25 years.
"The Rocky Mountain News is more than just a newspaper. It is a valuable piece of history," Litton said in a post on Iwantmyrocky.com, a site set up by Rocky Mountain News employees in an attempt to prevent the newspaper from shutting its doors.
Stein's cartoons are syndicated by United Features, and he's the winner of both the Fischetti Award in 2006 and the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award in 1999. He's been the Rocky Mountain News' editorial cartoonist since 1978.
Scripps put the Rocky up for sale back in December, but couldn't close the deal with a potential buyer after they discovered they would have to commit $100 million to stay in the running.
Denver is only the latest two-newspaper towns that has faced shedding one if its papers. In Seattle, talks continue about the Post-Intelligencer, which is for sale and not expected to find a buyer. The P-I faces either an online-only future with a paired-down newsroom staff, or following the Rocky's fate of being shuttered.
The Post-Intelligencer employees two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist David Horsey.
Just this week, Hearst (also the owner of the Post-Intelligencer) announced that the San Francisco Chronicle could either be sold or shut down. Steve Greenberg, a former employee of the Chronicle, has some interesting insight on the possibility of Media News Group's interest, but the Chronicle's potential shuttering could leave San Francisco with only a free metro daily, the San Francisco Examiner, as its sole source of straight news reporting.
For employees at the Rocky, it's hard to come to terms with the sudden nature of the closing. And for Litton, one of the nation's last sports cartoonists, the Rocky Mountain News closing its doors for the last time remains difficult to accept.
"It’s hard to fathom Denver without it."