The Rocky Mountain Independent has closed just two months after it started. The Independent was formed from the ashes of InDenverTimes.com – which actually still exists as a free information site, but not with any of the well-intentioned people who started it five months before the Independent.
Both of these were created by jobless journalists jilted by the February closing of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News.
The closing is sad, but predictable. The online-only effort at covering news in Denver was started for the wrong reasons (early-onset nostalgia), it had an implausible business model (premium priced news content), and it was run by the wrong people (journalists).
For the ultimate review on the subject, check out Alan Mutter’s Newsosaur blog. Everything he writes about this episode is spot-on and couldn’t be said any better.
But I will emphasize one point: Once upon a time, the news business might have been about the quality of reporting. And I know that some very strong journalism schools are still teaching that it still is. What else should they teach: mediocrity?
But it’s dead wrong. With the exception of some notable niches, content today is judged on a strictly pass-fail basis. It is either not good enough, or it is good enough.
For most media today, there is no ROI in anything that aspires to be better than good enough.
I’m not saying that great journalism doesn’t have a redeeming social value. Of course it does. It’s the bedrock of democracy; it’s the record of humanity.
There’s just no money in it.