So long, Valley Journal
December 25, 2008
When businesses shut down and people lose jobs, condolences hardly make things better.
The reality of the nationwide recession is hitting the best of people, including our friends and colleagues at The Valley Journal in Carbondale. On Thursday, the 34-year-old weekly newspaper announced to its readers that its Christmas edition would be its last.
We hope, to paraphrase Mark Twain, that reports of The Valley Journal’s death are being greatly exaggerated. Employees are holding out that once the economy bounces back, so too will the town newspaper.
But there is no sugarcoating it: The Valley Journal is gone for now as a stand-alone publication, and is the latest casualty in a wave of setbacks to the newspaper industry. The Rocky Mountain News, Colorado’s second-largest newspaper, will likely fold if its parent company does not find a buyer. Tribune Media Co. has gone bankrupt, and The New York Times recently mortgaged its office building.
Unfortunately for The Valley Journal, which is part of the Colorado Mountain News Media group that includes The Aspen Times, its business model was not built to last in this economic climate.
And that is unfortunate not only for its staff but also the people of Carbondale, who depend on it for news and information. The Valley Journal was the quintessential community newspaper; people would literally walk in off the streets to drop off obituaries, spaghetti dinner photos, Potato Days pics, you name it.
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The Valley Journal might not have been the town’s identity, but it certainly expressed it better than any other media outlet in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Clearly these are trying times for the newspaper industry, and we cannot help but take it a bit personally. The Internet clearly has had the print media at large rethinking its approach toward how news is covered, for better or worse. Throw the recession into the mix, and nothing looks certain any more.
Even so, we are not quite ready to write the obituary for the newspaper industry. We are, however, keenly aware that the industry will see more major shifts as it contracts even more.
In the meantime, we are sad to see Carbondale lose part of its soul, and wish the Valley Journal employees the best of luck in these tough times.