Farewell to Print Newspapers

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.

View of Lake Powell

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.

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13 Responses to Farewell to Print Newspapers

  1. Deb R. says:

    I definitely get the morning routine and the newspaper as it’s most vital component. My morning routine shifted in December when I bought an on-line subscription to the NYT. (It’s uber cheap for the first year and my girlfriend said you can beg them to keep the low rate if you call before the year expires.) My hard copy NYT Sunday paper was daunting, heavy with stuff I wanted to read which precluded reading anything else, and the novel stack grew on the bedside table. The on-line is different, I scan the headlines, then immediately dip down to the more human stories that interest me, finishing my coffee with Wordle and the short crossword puzzles. The writing is still first rate and somehow I don’t feel like I have to read it all. I even signed up for the columnists I enjoy, so I get those in a separate e-mail. Another joy of retirement is as much time as I want to do this morning ritual.

    It’s the Denverite and CPR for my local news.

    Can Phil come and make Sunday breakfast for us?

  2. Jana Clark says:

    Many years ago Joe and I had a daily paper route (a couple hundred papers). We delivered even then by car. So many of our life stories come from those three years. Our children in the back of the van with Easter baskets and Christmas candy. Joe and his brother making baskets on the wider driveways. The customers who stood on the curb to give us our payment of $3.25 a month. The calls at midnight asking where their comics were. The couple who ran away to be married and were still in love, together, 70 years later. We made $1.25 a month after paying for the papers and only from those who actually paid us. In three years we had every early marriage bill paid off and could qualify for a second mortgage to build on to our small home to accommodate a growing family. We quit so I could return to teaching. Our first three now old enough. Our third son learned to walk in a parking lot on Colorado Blvd while we folded papers and his sister and brother played with him! Thanks for the memories, Pat!!

  3. Sylvia says:


  4. Scott says:

    We still get the paper 5 days a week and very reliable in our neighborhood. But man, it has become very expensive!!!!! Argh…

  5. normandsky says:

    I hate, hate hate Alden Global and the rest of their ilk. They should be called “vampire funds” if they were honest. But they’re not honest. They are a sign of the times in the financial world. It used to be that buying stock meant investing in American business. Well, we invested and now those guys are giving us the business. They’re just sharks and wolverines, trading their money around and sucking what they can get from the America we used to love. Tell me one thing these monsters have done for the American public. Get your money back for the papers you missed? HAH! They’ve got it now, who are you? Never heard of ya. (feh… rant concluded)

  6. Linda G says:

    I came to the same conclusion about print subscriptions, but I stopped years ago. I had a long relationship with the NYT, but paper delivery was so hit and miss that I moved entirely to digital. When I went to journalism school, the Rocky Mountain News was one of the publications that was held up to students as an example of good reporting (obviously, that was decades ago). The Denver Post — and here in Portland, the Oregonian — are fading fast, as their corporate owners look to eke out every dollar without investing a dime. Local news stations aren’t immune to this business model, either.

  7. Bob Jaeger says:

    I quit the daily Post three or four years ago and to Sunday only, but even that got more and more expensive, delivery more and more inconsistent, and I finally quit the hedge fund news altogether (great rant, Phil). Someone from the Post called a few weeks ago to tell me they’d hired more carriers to improve delivery, and they’d give me a special deal for three months. No thanks. Online Colorado Sun and CPR is all I need, though I must say I still miss the funnies, the puzzles, and the dear old Rocky Mountain News.

  8. I’m lucky: the same delivery boy (haha, jk, Man) for 10-20 years has been much more reliable than the USPS carrier, who skips days every now and then. I don’t blame him; USPS workers are overworked. I still miss the Rocky Mountain News’s comics. They were the best. I subscribe on Wedn/Sunday for the paper and for the internet access. And I get the NYT on Sunday. Lasts a few days. I like Bruce Finley’s investigative journalism and yes I obviously know the mom you refer to. The elder daughter was one of two students in my life who outwitted me: that is, I had nothing to teach them because they wrote so well and read so cleverly. In the olden days they would have skipped the last couple of years of high school, like some people our age did.

    • dubrava says:

      Gregg, you and Springer are both blessed with good paper delivery. Over here we’ve had sporadic USPS service also.

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