OJR sees a silver lining in News’ closing

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The Rocky Mountain News, which would have turned 150 in just two months, is publishing its final newspaper today. Bad news for many, but a terrific opportunity for some entrepreneurial spirit to strike it rich.

So says, Robert Niles of the Online Journalism Review:

I write those words with a deep sigh, as I used to work for the Rocky, and consider my experience there essential to my development both as an online journalist and online entrepreneur.

For a little over three years I edited the Rocky’s website, and I remain darned proud of the work a tiny staff did during that period. But what does the Rocky’s closing have to do with someone getting rich? Hundreds of journalists just lost their jobs!

Yes, and hundreds of local advertisers just lost the publication that they were using to connect with local readers. Those advertisers have budgeted the money they would have spent, some have even written checks and will await reimbursement from the Rocky for ads never run.

With the economy tanking, some of those advertisers, I suspect, will just bank the money and forget about the ads. But smart businesses will not. They still need to reach local consumers.

Like lottery money falling from the sky, that advertising cash will land somewhere. The Denver Post will pick up some, I’m sure. So might local TV, radio and direct mail vendors.

But with thousands of now-former Rocky readers looking for a new daily news source, there’s a huge opportunity here for someone to get rich.

[Continue reading Hitting It Rich]

Years from now, many of us will look back on these days and ask ourselves why we weren’t the ones to come up with the answer to the newspaper industry’s woes… an answer that would have made us rich and, one hopes, simultaneously preserved the best democratic traditions of journalism.

The answer is out there. A decade from now, it will seem as obvious as the decision to move the cost of radio stations from manufacturers and department stores to advertisers.

The answer probably won’t heavily involve newspapers, which, as much as I love them, are simply a delivery mechanism. Instead, it will involve finding an appropriate method to fund good journalism (i.e., journalism that is informative, skeptical, factual, truthful, intelligent, unbiased and analytical while serving as a government watchdog, a mediator and an agenda setter in our democracy).

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This blog is maintained by Dr. Matthew M. Reavy as a service to journalism students at the University of Scranton.

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