It happened again, at the end of May. Sadly, it’s happened so much in the last several decades, not many people knew it or – even sadder – cared.
The newspaper I had written for over the last year was bought out and has already lost its online brand presence. Later this year, it will lose its even more established print presence. Newspaper buyouts and the loss of jobs for journalists such as myself don’t usually garner much news of their own these days. You could maybe say there’s not enough reporters left to cover the story. Another sad note.Anyway, The Colorado Statesman, which had published under several titles since 1898, was officially “merged” with Colorado Politics, a digital-only publication that began last November. It’s owner, and now the owner of the Statesman, is Phil Anschutz’ Clarity Media, which owns the Colorado Springs Gazette, some smaller weekly newspapers and other outlets. If you want more on the official announcement, you can find it online.
It wasn’t a shock to me or anybody else who still tried to make a living as reporters, editors or photojournalists. We all know the newspaper business has been risky and in a downsizing mode pretty much since the internet came along and siphoned off billions in classified and retail advertising dollars.
But the saddest part to me is the end of one of Colorado’s longest running businesses, especially one that provided valuable news coverage of our state and local governments, elections and those we decide we want as office holders. Nowadays – and Colorado Politics is a prime example – news about the state Legislature, governor, Congress and the president is delivered as close to instantaneously as possible. There’s good and bad about that; I think mostly bad if a fact is incorrect in a story posted before it can be verified. And we’re all human, so mistakes happen.
But before technology allowed everyone to read the news whenever and wherever we want, newspapers like the Statesman brought intelligent, thoughtful reporting about that most important part of our society – our democracy, or representative republic if you want to get technical. Recently, the Statesman always featured a look back in politics, a popular feature. Among its more astute political readers, it stirred feelings of the “good old days,” perhaps especially in today’s current political climate. But it recalled a time for me when the Statesman’s political coverage was important to a lot of people.
Change is the one constant in life, as someone once said. It can be good or bad for you or me. I had been scaling back my reporting duties with the Statesman for the last several months, as I continue to try to move my career on to the next stage. So the loss of stable work isn’t as drastic as it has been for tens of thousands of talented and dedicated journalists at other publications that were bought out and shut down.
I can only hope and wish the new owners of the Statesman’s legacy continue to do what Statesman reporters and editors have done for the last 118 years: keep us informed about the powers that be. It’s essential to a functional society. I know those in charge are very well aware and capable of those responsibilities. They know what they’re doing, just as generations of previous Statesman publishers, editors, reporters and photographers did.
It’s just sad as another one bites the dust.