Remembering the Rocky: Mourning a giant, but not its legacy

By Gus Bode

A giant fell in Denver last week.

In life, it towered above many of its peers; in death, its descent was so fast and so devastating the reverberations shook our quiet Carbondale classrooms.

Citing multimillion dollar losses, the owners of the Rocky Mountain News told their 230 employees Thursday that the paper’s next edition would be its last, ending the Rocky’s award-winning, boundary-defying run just two months short of its 150th anniversary.’


Denver lost a paper that boasted four Pulitzer Prizes in the past decade, a widely lauded photojournalism staff and a sports section named one of the 10 best in the country earlier that week.

Journalism students lost an ideal, a tangible representation of everything we are taught to aspire to be. Professors have paraded the Rocky in front of our classes and put copies in our hands, urging us to learn from the energetic, innovative way its staffers told the stories of their community.

The Rocky revolutionized the use of photography and design in print journalism, and its ingenuity provided a bright example as failing newspapers across the country presented a bleak picture of journalism’s future.

Many in the Daily Egyptian newsroom went into a state of mourning when we heard the Rocky would close. It hurts to see something beautiful die, particularly something that filled us with so much hope.

And then, there is the fear, the biting uncertainty and onslaught of unanswerable questions.

If this can happen to a paper that produced indisputably incredible work – a paper adored and championed by its readers, as evidenced by their comments on – what will happen to journalism?

Will people get their news, in the future, only from bloggers who might not care about fact-checking and impartiality?


It’s like that saying about the noise of trees falling in the forest. If the truth is there but no one chases it, does it still exist?

Journalists, whether they are students still grappling with AP style or veterans watching their Pulitzer-winning papers fold, do not know the answers to those questions.

But we know one answer.’

When people ask if we really want to do this, if maybe we wouldn’t like to try a desk job somewhere, or what about public relations?

Often – not always, but often – we politely tell them to go to hell.

The prospects in this job market are scary. But the prospect of ignoring the mandates of our blood in favor of an easier, more stable profession is, for many of us, simply horrifying.

So we will charge forward into that bleak breach and embrace the challenges that come with loving the irascible animal that is print journalism. We will learn multimedia, strive for creativity and do our best to help the industry adapt.

We will remember the Rocky, celebrating its strengths and standards as we pursue the work we are so lucky to love.

And, too, we will remember this: Though the thing that inspired you may die, the part of you that was inspired by it goes on.

So in a way, the Rocky Mountain News will live forever.

Petty is a senior studying journalism.