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Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Media after the meteor

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

So, newspapers are dinosaurs, and that meteor just hit.

Soon the mammals will rule the Earth, save for some crocodiles in swamps, isolated rivers and such.

This was the image of the digital explosion painted by one of the cutting edge media company CEOs in a recent talk – appropriately delivered over the Internet.



Clark Gilbert, president and CEO of the Deseret News Publishing Co. and Deseret Digital Media Co., online educator and Harvard biz professor – who calls himself a “digital guy” – actually offered more hope for print than most of these prophets of the Digital Ages.

I mean, Ted Turner was just one of a long line of oracles calling for the outright extinction of newspapers.

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The mere fact he was wrong in the ’80s, when cable TV was supposed to deal the death blow, don’t mean it ain’t true now.

At least Gilbert allows for crocodiles surviving the big blast.

Me, I’m more of a shark guy, but I take his point and tend to agree with it.



Newspapers ruled for nearly 500 years and only in the last 90 or so have other media shouldered into the mix. Telephone, radio, television, direct mail, cable TV, the Internet, desktop publishing, World Wide Web, satellite TV, cell phones, smart phones, tablets and whatever comes next (Apple TV?) – and that’s just the means of getting news and information that for half a millennium newspapers

provided.

Even small towns had more than one newspaper across America around this time 100 years ago. Some were morning papers, but the evening papers dominated. We’ve been shedding newspapers since the ’50s at a steady clip, and there aren’t many places anymore you can even find an evening paper.

Now big city newspapers are starting to cut back from daily editions to three days a week. New Orleans’ Times-Picayune recently announced it would be the largest city daily to scale back this way. Detroit’s metros have essentially done the same thing since 2009. The Christian Science Monitor has gone all online.

In Colorado, the Rocky Mountain News folded a few years ago and the Denver Post still struggles while seeking new digital life.

Meantime, little community papers like ours – the crocs – are recovering in traditional ways as the recession oh-so-slowly lets up.

We still dominate readership, after all, in our swamps. And what’s this? We’re at least starting to move a bit like mammals online, too.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2920.


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