Another newspaper closes tomorrow. The story of why is the same, it's losing too much money. And with it a 150 year old story may die. A story that speaks to our times.
More over the jump
Friday is the last day of publishing for the Rocky Mountain News, one of the two dailies that still, until now, served Denver. It will close just weeks before turning 150 years old.
I learned about it on twitter from David Sirota. I’m finding twitter is great for keeping up with all sorts of things.
I grew up in Denver, my parents, and sister are still there. My daughter moved back there and is studying nursing. Denver is Denver, my home town. It's no longer considered an "Overgrown Cow Town" and not all the changes have been positive in my view. But it is still in my heart.
Growing up in Denver there were always two major papers. The Denver Post, which was considered the liberal paper, the one my parents read, and the one I was a newspaper girl for (my parents still have my bike with the canvass bags attached to the handle bars).
The other was of course the Rocky Mountain News. It was presented in tablopid style, considered more common, and more conservative. It would also became the one my mother has read in her later years, not because she had become conservative, but because the paper was easier to handle.
Though I'm not even sure today if the same liberal and conservative labels apply to the papers.
Even without looking at the News website I knew that it was Denver’s oldest paper. Most people my age, growing up in Denver probably know. In our Denver history classes it held an integral place in the city lore.
It’s first building was at the confluence of the Platte River and Cherry Creek. The Native Americans warned the founder of the paper, William Byers not to build there because it would flood. But Byers knew better and ignored them saying it hadn’t flooded since he’d moved to Denver and he built.
It flooded and he lost the printing press and everything. But he rebuilt smarter the next time.
It’s a simple story with many lessons. One was that Native Americans were not the bad guys or the ignorant savages as they were often portrayed in movies and tv. They had a wisdom that white man ignored. They knew things we did not, and we(whites) were often too arrogant to listen.
Maybe it was where I grew up, maybe it was this one story, maybe it was the time, but my education in Denver Public Schools was always one that defied the popular image of Native Americans. They knew things, we did not.
Now this paper is ending and I’m afraid that this story will die.
This simple story children need to hear, especially those steeping in an environment of the idea of American exceptionalism. They need to hear about what was Denver’s oldest newspaper. . How it lost it’s printing press to a flood because the owner refused to listen, to those whites looked down on.
Those who knew what we did not.
Just as we have done for 8 years.
Newspapers chronicle and keep our history. Here's some of what the Rocky Mountain News kept.
The Rocky At 150 Years
April 18, 1861 - Printing a battle, as war erupts (The Civil War)
Dec. 14, 1864 - Sand Creek Massacre
August 6, 1886 - Colorado's cannibal
April 16, 1912 - Molly Brown survives the sinking of the Titanic
April 19, 1906 - San Francisco cataclysm
July 9, 1908 - Chronicling first DNC
November 25, 1922 - A deal to divide the waters
December 19, 1922 - The great mint robbery
November 6, 1924 - Klan rises, only to fall
June 16, 1941 - Red Rocks formation
June 25, 1954 - Landing an academy
February 10, 1960 - The Coors kidnapping
November 8, 1972 - Colorado spurns Olympics
August 2, 1976 - Big Thompson flood (this one is personal to me. We were supposed to be there, if our camper had not broken down.)