Rocky Mountain News Twitter: ‘It’s strange to cover your own funeral.’
“Scripps CEO Rich Boehne just announced the last edition of the Rocky Mountain News will be tomorrow, Feb. 27,” the Rocky’s newsroom Twitter announced at noon from the meeting where employees learned their fate.
The Tweets continued for hours, covering the meeting and its aftermath in fine detail. “Managing editor telling story about one of her first days in newsroom around Halloween. Huge copy editor walking around dressed like Zoro,” reads an entry after the reporters and editors got to work on Friday’s final edition.
Here are the Tweets from 4:30 p.m. at Thursday’s newsroom-wide meeting, where Rocky reporters, photographers and editors learned details and reacted to the news, displayed in reverse order:
The meeting has broken up. Many are crowding into the conference room to see the first Rocky.
Temple: “Thank you everybody for everything you done for this newspaper. It’s been a pleasure to work with you. Thank you.”
Temple: “We’re printing 50 percent more papers for tomorrow.”
Temple: “We’ve had a very beautiful thing here. You realize it when you start losing it. It’s torturous how I feel.”
Temple invites everyone to go to conference room to see the first edition of the Rocky Mountain News.
Kevin Vaughn won in feature writing for story, Crevasse. http://bit.ly/tGd5f
Huge applause. Deadly Denial covered Department of Energy’s treatment of sick government nuclear workers. You can find it on the site.
Temple announces Best of Scripps award to reporter Laura Frank and photographer Manzano for their work on series Deadly Denial.
Temple: “Our Sports section was named one of the best in the nation.” Huge applause.
Temple stops discussion. Time to turn to producing an excellent paper to remember. “We need to turn our attention to that.”
Contreras says that agreement couldn’t be reached.
Contreras says for Rocky to continue as online-only product, the partner in the JOA – Dean Singleton’s Denver Post – would have to agree.
Question: Why not start an online-only edition. Contreras: If we thought we could do that, we would not be here today.
Boehne: “You are the model of what a great newspaper should be. It’s a tragedy for the industry that you disappear.”
Boehne: “We intend to stay in the game.”
Boehne: “The E.W. Scripps company is designed to be a journalism and news company but that business must change. ”
Reporter: “Should this experience sour us on continuing in the business or at Scripps?”
Contreras: We’ve got to move mightily to change the model. “You’ll see a lot of changes in ’09.
Question about the possible demise of San Francisco Chronicle.
Mark Contreras: There is no paper in Scripps that we hold in higher regard than the journalism at the Rocky.
Employee: “Does Dean Singleton walk away with the whole pie?” Boehne: Post is unprofitable.
The Rocky Mountain News started publication on April 23, 1859.
Temple says Denver Public Library Western History Collection has brought the original edition of the Rocky Mountain News for us to see.
Boehne responds, “I guess that means we’re good guys.”
Boehne says Denver has not been a money-making venture for Scripps since 1926. Reporter retorts “What does that say about Scripps?”
Boehne: Bottom line is that Scripps has been around 130 years and intends to be around another 130. But it requires tough decisions.
Another reporter asks Boehne if he thinks it’s a leadership problem on Scripps part that they’re closing papers.
Reporter asks when Scripps will stop closing papers. Contreras says all papers were JOA papers.
Boehne says Singleton has more optimistic view of future for Denver newspaper than Scripps.
Contreras says the straw that broke the camel’s back was producing two newspapers.
Boehne says Scripps and Media News would have to cut both Rocky and Post newsrooms in half then get concessions.
Questions from copy editors: “Why didn’t you just come to us and ask us to take a pay cut.”
Questions about a serious buyer: Boehne says there was one person but didn’t have the resources to purchase the Rocky.
To clarify, RockyMountainNews.com will still exist on web for a period of time. However, it will not be updated after tomorrow.
People are asking if they can buy their computer equipment. Temple says the company has to determine who owns it, Scripps or DNA.
Some Rocky employees have friends and relatives at the Camera.
People are asking to keep their cell phone numbers.
Boehne points out the Rocky Mountain News is still for sale. Company name, web site name will be available.
Temple says it’s not known how long the site will be available long term.
Deadly Denial, Beyond the Boom, Final Salute, Columbine coverage. All will be there.
People ask when the web site be shut down. Temple says it will not be shut down. Tomorrow’s RockyMountainNews.com will commemorate history
Questions about COBRA continuation of health insurance
The only employees left at the Rocky Mountain News after Friday will be staff of administrative services office.
Contreras is explaining federal Warren Act that guarantees employees will be paid and receive health benefits.
People are worried about losing company cell phones and email. Both will be turned off tomorrow.
Reporters are asking if Scripps will give historical severance that it has given in past layoffs.
Contreras tells reporters that Scripps is coming into negotiations “with good intentions. We want a good, fair outcome.”
The big question is what about reporters’ severance formula.
The newsroom seems a little more light-hearted than this morning’s announcement.
Temple announces tomorrow is everybody’s last day. All equipment is due back. Parking passes, employee credit cards, badges are all due …
CEO Rich Boehne says company will be working with Newspaper Guild to discuss severance.
Editor John Temple is explaining what he can about benefits. Rocky staff will be paid for next 60 days.
First question: Reporter cracks, “Do we know anything yet?” Everybody laughs.
John Temple has been addressing the newsroom every Thursday at 4:30. Today, Mark Contreras, VP of Newspaper Division and Scripps CEO are …
Coming to you from one of the last newsroom-wide meetings at the Rocky.