Monday, March 16, 2009

Will The Rocky Rise Again?

Staffers from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News have found supporters to launch an Internet-based news source, to be called INDenverTimes. They are attempting to sell subscriptions for $4.99/month, and if successful in reaching their target subscriber base, they plan to launch the site in May.

In some ways, this seems like a good idea. The availability of Internet delivered news has helped lead to the demise of many newspapers. Others, such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, are going to an Internet-only publication model.

Still, there are problems with this idea. How will this attempt to resurrect the Rocky compete with free news available from a variety of sites? Also part of the appeal of the RMN was its tabloid format. It was handy to read on a plane, a light rail train, or anywhere space is limited. There is also some appeal to a physical stack of newsprint, where one can do the crossword puzzles with a pencil, and yes, even read the paper in the bathroom.

Perhaps the new site will become available for the Amazon Kindle or the Apple iPhone. This would help with the portability factor, although it will not replace the impulse buy at a newspaper box or newsstand. Maybe the different economics of a virtual publication will allow this to work with smaller subscriber & advertiser bases than that needed to support a daily print publication.

I wish these fine journalists well in their endeavor to see a new continuation of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News rise from the ashes of its predecessor, but I remain skeptical about its chances of success. Still, maybe they should have named the endeavor The Rocky Mountain Phoenix.

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