Blog written by Liz Pope
Technically The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News should function as allies, considering they’re both published by the Denver Newspaper Agency (DNA) and work in the same building. Nevertheless, with drops in readership and funding, these publications find themselves head-to-head in a battle that ultimately decides which paper stays afloat in the long run.
The DNA and the papers’ owners have done their best to differentiate between the Denver dailies to maintain readership and keep the competition at bay. For example, the Rocky is laid out in a tabloid style while The Post prints on a broadsheet. And while both incorporate the Denver news, the Rocky specializes in features stories and The Post specializes in hard news.
Arguably, the effort is just not enough. The DNA’s reported income for the 2007 fiscal year was $12.3 million, down from the $21.8 million from the previous year (as reported in the MediaNews Group annual report). In fact, rumor has it that the Rocky will fold by the end of the year.
As an avid reader of both publications, the decreasing number of stories printed per issue comes in conjunction with the increasing number of newspaper staff layoffs. In the Rocky especially, many of the articles aren’t even written by Rocky reporters, but instead by Boulder Daily Camera and Associated Press reporters.
How this issue impacts the public relations profession:
1. Beat coverage: It has become increasingly difficult to determine which reporter covers which beat with reporters covering multiple beats and many beats disappearing altogether. Even Cision, which is heavily relied on by top pr firms, isn’t always accurate.
2. Pitching: Our story pitches and ideas need to be dead on with absolutely no spin involved. With the increasing number of pr practitioners and the decreasing number of reporters, we’re all going for the same bait. While some pitch angles might have been newsworthy in the Denver community several years ago, this is no longer the case.
3. Online: Although the hard-copy publications are diminishing, their online Web sites and communities are flourishing. The Rocky’s YourHub.com, an online community Web site where readers can post their own stories and pictures, has become a fantastic outlet for public relations practitioners to post stories about clients that are newsworthy, but not always enough to make it to print. Even better, you can track the number of visitors to your story and even have the chance to receive pick up in the YourHub printed edition that comes out once a week and is distributed as a supplement to the Denver dailies. The Post is also pushing their community Web site called “Neighbors,” which is similar in function to YourHub.com. Even Post online news editor Demetria Gallegos, who attended the past Public Relations Society of America media luncheon, portrayed the “Neighbors” site as a perfect place for pr professionals to communicate and build relationships with editors and reporters.