There’s a lot of newspaper failure going around, well, everywhere these days, but particularly in Denver, where the Rocky Mountain News and its online offshoots the INDenver Times and the Rocky Mountain Independent have all either ceased publication entirely or drastically shifted their business models to become shadows of their former selves.
Industry analyst Alan D. Mutter says the Times and Independent, which were both started by ex-Rocky staffers, failed for the same reasons the Rocky did — hubris and lack of market awareness. Both publications tried and failed to charge for content while competitors were giving it up for free.
The journalists got busy doing the work they loved but they didn’t attend much to the strategic, operational and financial realities associated with a start-up business. They essentially assumed, as had their former employer, that the quality of their work would attract the patronage they needed to continue doing what they loved.
The Denver Business Journal has another insightful autopsy of Denver’s stopped news start-ups. As Mutter notes, newspaper publishers need to realize that their competition is the entire internet rather than just local rivals. And until customers say otherwise, they expect their news to be free.