March 2, 2009

The Rocky Mountain News Published Its Last Edition

After 149 years and 311 days, the Rocky Mountain News published its final edition last Friday, on February 27, 2009.

Could this be a lesson for radio?

The owners of The Rocky Mountain News, Scripps, Inc., decided to close down the newspaper serving the Denver, Colorado since 1859. The economy is one reason for the end of the newspaper's run, but it's inability to change the business model for newspapers in the main culprit.

The main factor is that newspapers were unable to compete with the Internet for advertising dollars and to deliver information instantly. It took newspaper companies too long to realize that they were in trouble. They knew this day would be coming, but now it's too late.

When you think about it, no one really grabs a newspaper anymore to look for a job or even get information. If somehow, newspapers developed classified job sites like careerbuilder.com and monster.com, maybe we wouldn't see many newspapers in bankruptcy or publishing online editions only. They were unable to see the future. Many newspapers are owned by large media conglomerates that are willing to sacrifice a newspaper to keep their TV or radio operations viable.

Radio hasn't figure out where to go next as far as content. The warning signs are all around. The one thing it does continue to do is to deliver information instantly, but delivery local content is something that's going by the way side. From city to city, one radio station sounds like the next. Right now it hasn't hurt them despite satellite radio, internet streaming, cellphone application and the ipod. You don't see radio stations frequencies shutting down, at most they're willing to go to syndication or change formats. But is the handwriting on the wall? Yes it is. Radio does not need to abandon local content in favor of syndication and music automation. Radio needs the local announcer talking to the listeners in their market. That connection is needed. Radio, one day will learn that lesson.

The following video documents the last days of The Rocky Mountain News. As the video shows, there are many parallels in the newspaper industry and with radio.

"Final Edition" was produced by Matthew Roberts


Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

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