It’s been a long relationship, but truth be told, I’ve been slowly leaving it—or the Denver Post’s been leaving me—for years.
When my husband was the advertising art director at the Rocky, we of course subscribed, and for the remaining years of its life after he left there too. The Rocky Mountain News folded in 2009. Phil was an art director elsewhere when that happened. I was teaching. The mother of two of my students was a journalist at the Post. “You won the great Denver newspaper wars,” I observed. “It’s hard to celebrate when you’re also on life-support,” she replied glumly.
We then subscribed to the Post. Alden Global, a hedge fund, one of those vulture companies, bought the Post in 2010. Alden fired staff in wave after wave. My students’ mother went down in one of them. The paper began to carry fewer original stories, more reprints and grew thinner by the year. The advent of ads on the front page—sacrilege! —prompted our reduction to a Sunday and holidays subscription with digital access. Sunday was the tradition I wanted to save.
On Sundays I loved going out in my slippers to retrieve the paper, loved the rattle of its pages, the turning of them, scanning each broadsheet from headline to headline, stopping whenever one snagged me. I liked reading one-paragraph items deep in the paper, stories you never hear on TV news. I liked the big investigative pieces that have been researched for weeks if not months, giving an in-depth view about people who are leaving Denver because they can’t afford to live here or the shortage of water in the Colorado River. I savor the writing of journalists still clinging to print publication.
My husband makes breakfast on Sundays. Phil’s the master of pancakes stuffed with bananas and blueberries, waffles with strawberries, Challah French toast or an omelet, dishes he prepares in rotation: pancakes this week, waffles the next. Accompanied by Bach Brandenburgs, plenty of coffee, we linger at the table. The Sunday paper was part of that lingering, its sections, the colorful Sunday comics and crossword puzzles. I wouldn’t surrender that old school pleasure were it not for the escalating unreliability of receiving it.
My constant Sunday delivery began to falter over a year ago. The way the system works these days (carriers don’t collect anymore) it’s difficult to know who delivers your paper until Christmas, when you get a card with a name and address so you can send a tip. I sent those Christmas checks, but otherwise never knew who delivered my paper faithfully all those earlier years.
Figuring out how to report a missing paper is a challenge. When I manage it, I always ask to have it added it to the subscription rather than get late delivery. Because if the paper’s not here by seven a.m. the moment has passed. If it’s not here by the time the coffee’s ready, it’s too late. Timing is everything. I need the Sunday paper with my pancakes.
Missed deliveries were occurring more often. My subscription ends the first of April. This Sunday paper—once a robust roll and now anemic as a Monday edition—this paper that shows up twice a month, out on the sidewalk instead of on the porch, is no longer worth the trouble. Of the holidays promised, I only ever got Thanksgiving.
When Phil worked at the Rocky, admin decided managers should experience the carrier job, and invited spouses to come along. Rising in the chilled dark before four, we reported to a barely warmed shabby location to fold and stuff papers into plastic bags, each carrier making their count, then off in the pre-dawn night to deliver them whatever the weather. It’s a tough job, poorly paid and you have to use your own car.
I didn’t renew but thought I’d get the papers already paid for. Not to mention the five or six papers missed before then and duly reported. Nary a Sunday paper for the month of March. I’ve been robbed.
The tradition is broken, an era ended. I’ve made the shift to news on my phone. I only wish the amount I’m owed could be a carrier Christmas gift, but that’s crazy thinking. After all, the paper’s owned by a hedge fund.