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February 28th, 2009
07:43 AM ET

Dear President Obama #40: Rocky Mountain Goodbye

Reporter's Note: The President has asked people to write with ideas to help the country. I’m writing a letter a day.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I am mourning the loss of a friend this weekend, who used to show up on my porch. When I lived in Denver, The Rocky Mountain News was a newspaper I admired and enjoyed. It was well written, well reported, and in the days before the Internet became king, it was a solid way to keep track of what was going on. And now it has flown its last banner headline.

Newspapers are folding, or threatening to, everywhere: New York, Miami, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and more. Advertising has dried up, costs have gone up, and computers have eaten up their readers. I, like millions of others, now get a massive portion of my daily news by surfing news sites.

I’m not moping over the disappearance of a newspaper just because I like ink-stained fingers, and piles of papers to carry out to the recycling bin, although real paper has its pluses. For example, I tried to line a bird cage with an old laptop. No good. And forget about wrapping fish. Still, I’ve always accepted that the physical world of newspapers would change eventually, and electronic newspapers would be the future.

What worries me, however, is that the journalists who are leaving these failing newspapers are by and large not going on to jobs reporting for news websites. They are just going away, because there aren’t enough websites out there paying enough money for these people to live on. It’s nobody’s fault, I suppose, and I’m not asking you or anyone else to feel sorry for journalists. I’m well aware that many Americans think we are as much a part of the problem as we are of any solution in this country. But I believe each time a good paper like the Rocky closes, we lose an important asset: Skilled, professional journalists, who want to help all of us find the truth about the communities and the country we live in.

Are there bad ones? Sure. I’ve met some, and I’ve been accused of being one. But the vast majority of news people I know take seriously the idea that we should be unbiased, professional, and committed to the good that comes from finding facts. This is an honorable profession even if people in it do not always behave honorably. So the loss of the Rocky, I think, is a real loss for America. News that I hate to hear.

Call if you want to grab a bite. How was the Bulls/Wizards game?

Regards,

Tom

For more of the Foreman Letters, click here.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. gloria

    Iam so sorry to read about your loss. You are right. The internet has become king because I am reading your dear president letter from my blackberry. How cool is that?

    March 1, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  2. JQQ -Brea California

    Maybe Bill Gates dream of computers in every home was a bad idea.

    March 1, 2009 at 12:57 am |
  3. Elaine Gibson

    Dear Anderson Cooper,
    May I say as a Canadian how much I enjoy your style of reporting. At this difficult time in America's history, you manage to tell all the bad news that is hitting your country in a professional and concrete manner. I have no doubt that America will pull out of this recession as it is a worldwide thing and not just due policies of the U.S.A. Where I live in Canada, I doubt whether we will feel the brunt of the mass unemployment or severe weather conditions. I am 65 myself and hold down two jobs, both of them of the physical variety. In spite of these menial tasks, I have nearly 4 university degrees and two art diplomas. I consider myself lucky to be able to watch CNN and enjoy American politics. Thank you for being entertaining and not gory.

    February 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  4. Virginia

    My comment is about redistribution of wealth-this is a bad thing when wealth is going from the wealthy to the middle class but never mentioned when it is going from the middle class to the wealthy.Why?

    February 28, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  5. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    Isn't there a way for newspapers to cut costs without going bust?

    It seems to me that the entire economy rests of supplying a product that no one else can supply. Perhaps less paper? Maybe adding or subtracting sections that are emerging in popularity, or, not popular and gone!

    The morning newspaper and coffee ~ an American tradition must be preservered!

    February 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  6. Kim

    What's next ? Cyber high schools ? It would be so nice to do business with a company that actually had a real human being answering the telephone. Hang in there old school and we're not all dead yet ! All these writers need to team up and go teach the kids about the news paper business and reporting. Wonder in 20 years if we'll have news papers ? It'd be cool to turn this news paper company into a school for journalist and have the pro's teach the young people.

    February 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  7. Stacy

    Tom,

    I've never read the Rocky Mountain News, but I too feel a little sadness. I watched the video they created, which was essentially coverage of their paper's funeral and the loss was palpable.

    Newspapers are in quite a conundrum right now. No one has a surefire plan in how to make adequate money off their web content and some of the ideas I hear floating around I don't think are going to work.

    You're right in that many–maybe even the majority–of Americans are not too fond of your profession–at least that's what I hear from people in my life. To be honest, I'm not too thrilled with you guys as a whole most of the time either. But that being said, I often find myself defending you because I know that without what you do, this country would probably be much worse off.

    February 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  8. Kim

    Tom,enjoy your letters and writing ! Kinda sad our journalist are moving on and hopefully they will keep writing. Take a walk into the class rooms and view the cursive writing and writing over-all of our young people.

    February 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  9. 40 Acres & A Mule

    Sign of the times...I mean really. Why buy the paper when you can see it all on the internet????

    February 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  10. Maria

    I felt bad for the loss of the Newspaper, however, professional journalist can be honored and work with the net base news line. Myself, it was my childhood dream to be journalist, but the conservative old boat defines the path, especially for Women. Yet there is no perfect time for thing and childhood dream can be true anytime.

    February 28, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  11. Dulcie - Denver

    Very sad that the Rocky is gone. It's been a Denver institution for so long. It will be sorely missed by many.

    February 28, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  12. Peter Klein

    I agree that while there are good and bad journalists (as in any profession), what's even more saddening about the closing of a newspaper is the fact that the art of writing is disappearing–at least the printed word. Writing electronically is certainly a partial substitute, but the electronic word is one mottled by newsclips, pictures, and other media. This is not a bad thing, and often completes the scene or story the writer is describing, but it is not pure writing, and that's the sad part. Now that I've said my piece, I'll move along and read those other 100 blogs on my list today.

    February 28, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  13. Jack

    Hi AC and Erica,

    You've done a good job showing the budget deficit and the overall national debit. You should also begin showing the interest attached to all the debt – $$$ that could be spent elsewhere, and if reduced, would also reduce the future need to borrow.

    Thanks,

    February 28, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  14. Rachel

    Dear Tom
    Sorry for your loss. I buy news paper only on Sundays. I just started doing that. The only reason I buy newspaper on Sundays is for the coupon. But I read news paper. I read 1 Local and the big names and I read 1 from Italy, Rome. Thanks for the Internet.

    But I am willing to pay for the news paper online so everybody keep their job. Why is it the news paper put up their news for free on the Internet? Maybe they can charge the website and the websites can charge the consumer. Hey you don't give out your good story for free on the newspaper why should you do it on the internet.

    Sincerely
    Rachel
    Atlanta GA

    February 28, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  15. Art

    Hi Tom, for all the good that technology has given us, I think I has hurt us as well. Some sort of balance should be drawn. Thanks for reading,Art

    February 28, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  16. Bob Davis

    Hell, I wish that 45 records would come back also. Howerver times move on and the public votes with their wallets.

    Why should people pay for information they can get for free?

    And if the information in a paid newspaper is so much better than "free sources" (ex: online), then the newspaper should be able to charge even more than they do today.

    February 28, 2009 at 9:09 am |