Denver Post employees plead with owners: 'Save us!'

Employees of the Denver Post published an editorial aimed at its owners, a New York hedge fund, pleading, "The Denver Post Must Be Saved."

No doubt the editorial mimics similar pieces from 120 years ago where blacksmiths and wheelwrights pleaded to be saved as well.

At The Denver Post on Monday, more than two dozen reporters, editors, photographers, videographers, page designers, digital producers and opinion staff will walk out the door.  Our marching orders are to cut a full 30 by the start of July.

These heartbreaking instructions raise the question: Does this cut, which follows so many in recent years that our ranks have shriveled from more than 250 to fewer than 100 today, represent the beginning of the end for the Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire?

The cuts, backed by our owner, the New York City hedge fund Alden Global Capital, also are a mystery, if you look at them from the point of view of those of us intent on running a serious news operation befitting the city that bears our name.  Media experts locally and nationally question why our future looks so bleak, as many newspapers still enjoy double-digit profits and our management reported solid profits as recently as last year.

We call for action. Consider this editorial and this Sunday's Perspective offerings a plea to Alden – owner of Digital First Media, one of the largest newspaper chains in the country – to rethink its business strategy across all its newspaper holdings. Consider this also a signal to our community and civic leaders that they ought to demand better. Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn't willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.

Sell it? Who's stupid enough to buy it? The dead tree newspaper industry is circling the drain as surely as buggy whip makers and the carriage manufacturing industry  gave up the ghost. 

A flagship local newspaper like The Post plays a critically important role in its city and state: It provides a public record of the good and the bad, serves as a watchdog against public and private corruption, offers a free marketplace of ideas and stands as a lighthouse reflective and protective of – and accountable to – a community's values and goals.  A news organization like ours ought to be seen, especially by our owner, as a necessary public institution vital to the very maintenance of our grand democratic experiment.

Is there an online publication that can't accomplish the exact same things?  There lies the essence of why newspapers are becoming obsolete.  Their only selling point appears to be that they proclaim themselves to be "gatekeepers" and the arbiters of who and what should be held "accountable."  Whatever public trust they once possessed, they have squandered in the name of advocacy journalism.  They do not deserve to be "saved" by anyone, much less a public they "serve" only in a blatantly partisan sense.

I like editor Lifson's complaint about newspapers: "I get ink on my hands."  That pretty much sums up the importance that we should attach to the demise of another iconic business who is going the way of other obsolete and useless companies whose nostalgic pleas to survive should not move us.

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