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Posted: January 29, 2009

The death of daily newspapers is a step forward

The imminent death of The Rocky Mountain News shouldn't be seen as bad PR for Colorado

Jon Severson

The Rocky Mountain News is almost dead and many people say this is bad PR for the state of Colorado—that it’s a step backward. I, for one, strongly disagree.
 
I feel this development instead shows that Colorado is moving toward the future. Newsprint is a dying format, particularly among twenty - and thirtysomething young professionals. I personally haven't read a paper front to back in nine years, and I worked for a newspaper nearly two of those years. Yet I'm as informed as anyone else on the issues important to helping me grow personally and professionally.
 
On the business front, I use Viigo, a software application for my Blackberry that allows me to follow about 30 news feeds. E-mail blasts from news outlets such as ColoradoBiz magazine also help to keep me in touch. If I want world and national news, there is still no substitute for The Economist, which I pick up when time allows, or I skim it online. In my car, I listen to NPR and BBC World News on my Sirius satellite radio, free of commercials, or I can use FlyCast on my Blackberry. I watch CNN. I belong to LinkedIn social networking groups.

The rest? Thanks to my laptop and Blackberry, I'm a quick Google or Wikipedia search away from what I need to know. All of this I can do while I wait for lunch to be served in a restaurant.

For personal interest news, I check sites including Cyclingnews.com, Allmusic.com and a variety of others. I often read my own publication online, Peak Region Cyclist.
 
Then there is the issue of useablity. Cracking open the paper is fine at home, but when you are at lunch, in a waiting room or on the couch, a magazine is much easier to fold open as well as there is no rush to read it that day. The magazine format’s portability, durability and longevity suit my lifestyle better. Newspapers always end up like maps in my glove box – scrunched.

Moving away from daily newspapers could also be a huge win from a ecological standpoint. Without printing and delivering newspapers, just consider how much that would reduce the state’s carbon footprint?
 
But getting information is not all about sitting in front of a computer or hiding behind a magazine. I also rely on talking with my peers at networking events, as well
as e-mail blasts from my local Economic Development Corporation for more informed and educated views of local happenings. And when I have the time, I
rely on weeklies such as Westward and The Independent to keep me up to date on the rest.
 
And you know, I'm far from alone. I don't know a twenty – or thirtysomething young professional worth his or her salt that doesn't own a Blackberry or similar smart phone. Flip phones are for kids.

Coloradoans are moving forward in how they get their news, and this is not a set back. It illustrates that we've moved on to more efficient ways to get the information that suits our busy lifestyles. We don't want to read stories from the Associated Press about a woman who lives with 1,000 cats, but even if we did, we have Fark.com for that.

Give me an hour with people smarter than me – and more patience for math – and I am sure losing The Rocky Mountain News and other dailies can be turned into a PR gem, and that someday, it’s something that will actually make Colorado sparkle.


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Jon Severson oversees young professionals groups along the Front Range and is part owner and VP of Sales for Peak Region Cyclist.

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Readers Respond

After his death, his thoughts are killing me daily. Instead of this, i think i can die once in my life. i don know why he has given such a punishment to me. I really loved him a lot till now. By Blackberry Case on 2009 09 12
Mr. Severson, You are obviously very "important" because you have a Blackberry and use the Internet. We all get it. You surf the web. On your phone. We are in awe. You obviously have no life and have assigned a lot of importance to messaging and surfing the web. Other than growing up on the web, you have very little perspective to add to the subject at hand. The Rocky Mountain News is now closed. It closed because of economic challenges and difficult economies, not because you got a smart(?) phone. You still read the news online, and that news still has to come from somewhere. There are plenty of new-media and bloggers to generate content, but that can be quite different from a well-researched (and written) news story. You may be surprised to find that there is a lot more to life than chasing the latest gadgets and insulting people's intelligence. It may get you some hits in the short term, but will likely leave you unfulfilled when you look back on your life. So, now that Blackberyy has come out with a "flip phone" (Blackberry Pearl Flip) will you re-write your article? My "flip phone" doesn't flip, is a couple years old, and can access anything a Blackberry/Smart/3G phone can. Most moderately new phones can. Quit insulting our intelligence. Stick to the topic (is the Rocky closing good or bad?) and quit stroking your ego in public. Your mother should have told you it isn't polite. By Anonymouse on 2009 03 02
Right on Jon! I’m sure the Gazette is next on its way out. With their rollout this week in a new “streamlined” 3 section only paper is now truly a waste of ink and trees. The business section is always missing or oh… on the back of the “broncos” sports page. Very inconsistent home delivery. During one week they missed 3 days of delivering to my house. Do I really have time to call an automated line and report a missing paper so that it may possibly show up at my door step sometime after 3 pm? The articles…how many cut and paste AP news wire stories can they borrow? And they say this week’s change is they want it to be a “local” news source. I get my news updates instantly when checking my email on AOL’s banner page. Farewell to print of the past! JG By JG on 2009 02 04
And another thing, you can't talk back to newspaper. You can't replay the critical point in a ball game. You can't pick up what a person actually did from 6 or 7 different accounts. Newspapers need the Net to engage their market. If they have forgot, it's all about information. By Joe Doll on 2009 02 04
Well written Jon! You obviously struck a nerve with some paper reading, flip phone carrying Luddites. Leave them to their premillenial tendencies along with their eight track tapes and rabbit ear antennas. Those who want to be sentimental about the antiquated format of daily news being delivered in print a day late are an aging minority who are increasingly inconsequential. It is an amazing time that we live in and it takes continued learning to keep up with all of the changes. Most of these changes are a vast improvement and ought to be welcomed. To quote a member of the "old generation" when those senior to them disliked change,Pete Townsend said, "Why don't you all f-fade away". They along with the Rocky will do just that. Talking 'bout my generation! By Trevor Dierdorff on 2009 02 02
Well, Well and another well...You know people just need to accept the fact that things are changing and one paper going down is not the end of the world (can we get rid of some of those community papers also). One thing I would (will) not miss is amount of waste a paper throws into a Sunday paper ( i know it's advertising and that runs it)...OMG 2/3rds of a paper is loaded full of useless junk. Im so over it... You know its all about some balance and common sense. So good article Jon... Keith Miller By keith Miller on 2009 02 01
Mr. Herst, thank you for your comment, I'd love to help you with that. I am working with Mr. Severson through the Young Professionals and would be happy to have your help By Sean Holveck on 2009 01 30
Funny doesn't look like the people who disagreed with the young man actually read the whole article. The Independent and Westward are weekly papers in Colorado. Newsprint that is. Funny how ignorance breeds anger when someone points out the obvious. I may be close to retire but i see his point about smartphones and got one in the last year. I personally for one think of only how Mr Severson could teach me how to utilize what he mentions to grow as a person and a business than be upset he pointed out a short coming. Also, did some research....Mr Murdock agrees with him to quite an extent and he's #1 in such a business. It's the Rocky's fault for not keeping their eyes on the leader: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/murdoch_on_the_future_of_newspapers.php I for one think i'm going to hunt this young gentleman down at one of his events, and ask for advice if not try to hire him. By Mr Herst on 2009 01 30
On Target or not, neither of the mediums will completely go away. People were afraid that TV would completely obliterate radio, wow, it's still around. I think there is room for both it just depends on savvy a product is for the consumer it serves. That and all the other factors of business. Blackberry, iphone, or flip phone, I don't think it matters either way. people get too jammed up on all the details. I have a laptop, and a Blackberry, I read news online and offline, I savor both experiences because both give me just that, a unique experience. I think there are valid points on both sides. A smaller carbon footprint and a vast amount of knowledge at the click of the mouse is awesome! The tactile experience of a newspaper and taking the luxury of time to enjoy it also something that cannot be replaced by a laptop or by a blackberry. It's a changing world. Push and shove in both directions. We each have to fight for our own little spot and this is a superb article to me if it draws from both sides. Well Done Jon. By Sean Holveck on 2009 01 30
Now I have seen it all - the audacity of conceit. Has Mr. Severson ever read a newspaper? Somehow I doubt it. And what is easier to place on the table at a restaurant for lunch - my laptop or the Rocky. I read it daily from back to front and enjoy every moment of it - weather and back pages commentary, op-eds, editorials, financial news, comics, sports, local and international news, etc. And I also read the WSJ, Townhall, and others on the internet. How sad it will be when the Rocky is gone (and the Post probably not far behind it. Would much rather spend at the newstand $7.50 per week than a couple of lattes at Starbucks! Oh, and I have a four year old Nokia cellphone which I use for making and receiving calls plus occasional usage on the road as an alarm clock. By John T. Vanderveen on 2009 01 30
I think Mr Severson is on target. I have kids and the TV is theirs many nights...or my wifes. With kids I don't have time to read a daily paper every day....much less spend what it costs a year on subscription fees. Daily here in Colorado Springs fee for Gazette is $137.20. Weekend only not much better at $120. I don't even spend money on cable (which kids don't like, but tough). But my desktop keeps me in the loop, I'll pay for internet but not a paper or cable. As far as "a class lower"....you really think many people scrapping by day to day are paying $137 a year to have a paper delievered to their door they don't have time to read? Many of this class work 10 hours a day and what little time left they spend with their kids, not a paper that doesn't report to them anyway. I know people who work with these people. Many will go to library if they have time. But most do not. By A YP with Kids on 2009 01 29
"And you know, I’m far from alone. I don’t know a twenty – or thirtysomething young professional worth his or her salt that doesn’t own a Blackberry or similar smart phone. Flip phones are for kids." So, In your opinion, anyone w/ a flip phone is not worth..what? Is not up to your standards as a professional? And you run groups and people follow you? By anonymous on 2009 01 29
Fact of the matter is, Mr. Severson must be single and not have a wife or children, and in their place he has his laptop and blackberry. Mr. Severson's ignorance of a class lower than his own shows in this article. Not every individual owns a laptop or blackberry. Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to spend on gadgets. Some would rather spend their extra cash on the fees of a hockey league for their children, than easy access to some news site. Some people enjoy the easy and cheap access of a daily newspaper. Economy is also taking a down turn...I noticed that this article seems amazingly oblivious to that current situation, which is funny, since it is top news on all those sites… By Anon on 2009 01 29
Without a doubt, we are moving away from printed material at top speed, and for Colorado to be at the forefront of that evolution should be a point of pride, not a point of concern. Very well-written article. As for Mr. Koenigsberg's comment, I've also never savored the joys of listening to the news shouted from the town crier, and my great-grandfather never read a web page. We must all learn to savor the technologies of the times into which we're born. By Kyle Davis on 2009 01 29
I strongly agree with Mr. Severson. The world is turning into a paperless society. I also receive my information from the internet. One of my favorite things to do is read the Huffington Post for my far left news and compare it to the far right. With news paper you don't get the luxury of being FULLY informed. I also appreciate the compact format of a magazine, mobile devise, or laptop. It makes being informed much easier then fumbling around with the news paper and then smudging your white blouse with your dirty news print hand. By Krissina Wells on 2009 01 29
It appears that there are many people who are young enough that they don't remember and know what it is to savor the joys of reading the newspaper as an activity unto itself. Digital certainly favors multi-tasking scenarios and squeezing things in between other things -- and that can certainly be useful when you're on the run. As a Mr. Information-type PR guy, I’m online a lot to glance at headlines and get the news snippets as they happen. But there's more to life than catching snippets on the run. One could say that we are well past an American culture where people ever do one thing at a time and savor what they are doing -- but I don't think so. I believe the pendulum will swing back, at least a little, to simpler things as people get oversaturated with the unlimited information possibilities on "digital", (if that hasn't already started), and I for one want the Rocky to be around when this happens. Perhaps Mr. Severson doesn’t know just what he’s losing, because he may not have ever had it. By Stephen Koenigsberg on 2009 01 29

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