Media Wars and Longevity

Brief by Central Staff

Media – June 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

The century-long newspaper war between the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News came to an end on May 11, with the Rocky throwing in the towel and asking for a “Joint Operating Agreement.”

The JOA means the papers can combine production and marketing functions, while maintaining separate news and editorial operations. Under the plan, both would continue to publish on weekday mornings, while there would be a Saturday Rocky and a Sunday Post.

Up here, the war had already been settled in the Post’s favor — the Rocky surrendered a few years ago when it announced that it would no longer circulate state-wide, and would thenceforth restrict its circulation to the six-county metro area.

Home delivery stopped for good, although a year or so later, the paper restored its newsracks. Then another switch — it changed its name from Rocky Mountain News, which had been good enough since its first edition on April 23, 1859, in Cherry Creek, Kansas Territory, to Denver Rocky Mountain News, which may have reflected its new metro focus, but also sounded self-contradictory.

We note that the Rocky is the second-oldest continuing business in Colorado. The oldest is the R&R Market in San Luis, which opened its doors in 1855.

In other media matters, Eagle County lost a weekly newspaper on April 28 when the Vail Beaver Creek Times ceased publication after 18 years. It had also been known as the Vail Valley Times and the Avon Beaver Creek Times.

We found it a convenient way to keep up on the major events over the pass, but the handwriting was on the wall for the past two years, after its purchase by the same company that publishes the Vail Daily News.

In Salida, The Mountain Mail celebrates its 120th birthday on June 5. It began under that name, eventually stretched to The Salida Daily Mail & Record, and then in 1956 reverted to its original name.

When the Mail celebrated its centennial in 1980, there were several older businesses in the area. The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, established in 1870, is no more, having been subsumed into the Union Pacific system, and Patterson Hardware, whose ancestor Bateman Hardware had advertised in the first Mail, barely made it through that year.

However, the Jackson Hotel in Poncha Springs opened in 1878, and it’s still operating, so it holds the longevity prize, at least in Chaffee County.

We keep digressing. We note also that KVRH Radio in Salida recently changed hands after more than four decades of ownership and management by Bill Murphy.

We’ll miss him. Bill was always strong on local news, and he worked hard to make sure public business was conducted with public oversight.