Saturday, February 26, 2011

Life after the death of the Rocky Mountain News

Posted By on Sat, Feb 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM

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Two years after the closure of the Rocky Mountain News by its parent E. W. Scripps Company, former editor and publisher John Temple is taking stock of life after the death. Temple contacted 146 former staffers — including reporter John Ensslin, now at the Gazette — to see what life's been like for the journalists ever since.

The good news? Ninety-two are still working in the biz, including several who made the switch to the Denver Post. The bad news? For some, things aren't that great. But the comments vary across the spectrum and are certainly worth reading. Here's a sample:

John Ensslin
General assignment reporter, now legal affairs reporter at the Gazette in Colorado Springs
Life somewhat better

I feel like I'm doing some of the best work I've done in years. I'm especially pleased at the way I've been able to reinvent the beat through live blogging and a court blog I've developed called "The Sidebar."

I also feel that I've "doubled-down" on my commitment to journalism. Earlier this year I was elected national secretary-treasurer of the Society of Professional Journalists, an outfit whose mission I strongly believe in. SPJ continues to do important work in supporting journalists around the country and improving the craft under adverse economic circumstances.

I'll be running for president-elect in October at our national convention in New Orleans. If the delegates see fit, I'll be national president in two years. Wish me luck.

Ed Sealover
Reporter, now reporting for the Denver Business Journal
Life about the same.

"About the same" doesn't really answer the question, but I can't say life is better or worse.

I miss working at the Rocky and having that mammoth audience of readers. But at the same time, I like the challenge of helping to increase the readership here at the DBJ - something we have done since the Rocky closed.

At times during the past election season, I missed the thrill of jumping in my car and following a candidate halfway across the state (we covered only events in the Denver metro area at the DBJ). At the same time, I liked an election season where I actually got to go home and see my wife every once in a while, and I know she liked that too.

I love the kindness of my fellow staffers here, but I sometimes miss the buzz of the big newsroom, where 20 things were happening at once and you knew you were bound to get swept up in it.

I don't so much miss 14-hour days, which come a lot more rarely when we have a narrower focus on business issues and don't have to cover every nine-hour legislative committee hearing on the death penalty. One of the great things about having more personal time is that I can engage in more personal projects. For example, my first book, a guide to Colorado breweries, is set to come out in July, and I'm not sure if I could have found the time to research and write it while working at the Rocky.

I miss telling people that I work at the Rocky and hear them reply how it's their favorite paper and how they've read it since they were a little kid. But I also love telling people that I work at the Denver Business Journal and hearing them explain how much they've come to appreciate our paper, especially since the Rocky closed.

So, there's good, there's bad. I really do love what I'm doing now. But I do miss the Rocky. Take what you will from that. Overall, though, I'm just glad I had the experience I did at the Rocky, even if it was only for its last 7-1/2 months.

Kevin Huhn
Deputy sports editor, now working at copy chief for FOXSports.com in Los Angeles
Life is somewhat worse

I was given an amazing opportunity by FOXSports.com to learn valuable web skills that I hadn't previously acquired. I'm also being given the opportunity to create, from scratch, a copy desk. I have to laugh because an entity in the web industry that continues to hurt newspapers approached me about helping "build a traditional style newspaper copy desk." Really? What's wrong with this picture? Anyway, professionally I have no complaints because I've been given an opportunity in which I'm being paid to learn skills I desperately need. Personally, I miss Denver a lot, which is why I say my life is somewhat worse. But I fully anticipate my current job helping me reposition myself to someday return to Denver in a professional situation that more closely resembles what I had at the Rocky than what I had in the year before I was given my new opportunity.

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