Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two years later, stories of survival from 'The Rocky'

It's a video that still leaves me choked up: the farewell to the Rocky Mountain News:

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

It's now two years since the Denver paper closed -- a casualty of the Great Recession and the demise of publishing's traditional revenue model (ads on a printed page to reach the masses). To mark the anniversary, John Temple, who was The Rocky's editor and publisher, offers a couple of surveys on what his former colleagues are up to.

He found that many remain in journalism; others went into different fields, chose to retire or are still unemployed. All miss the "family" they had at the paper, and most worry about what the newspaper industry has lost as companies responded to the recession and media turmoil by cutting people and pages or closing operations.

You should read through the respondents' comments -- they're easy to relate to, especially if you were cut loose from a newspaper career, too (for me, via layoff). Take former sports columnist Bernie Lincicome, who decided to retire: "The daily feeling I have is one of irrelevance," she says. YES! I say out loud.

She continues: "I tried blogging for a while, mostly out of habit, partly from denial. It was just calisthenics with no game to play. ... I have done some freelance work, but, to be honest, have not worked very hard at finding more." YES! I say again.

The journey wasn't any easier for some of those who landed back in journalism. Kathy Bogan, who now works in Kenya as a design editor, says she battled "a sense of worthlessness" as résumé after résumé sent to prospective new employers went unanswered. (Yup, I can relate.)

Still, "I am fortunate to be working full-time, to be working in a newsroom again," she says. And, as an added bonus, in a place where newspapers are appreciated: "Here, hawkers tout at least four dailies in the traffic jams all day, there's a newsstand on every sidewalk, the news seems to be part of the daily diet, and print still dominates."

I'm not ready to become an ex-pat, but I'll look to take a smidgen of hope from their stories and soldier on.

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