Flotsam for today:

*God bless Roger Ebert.

The iconic Chicago Sun-Times movie critic recently re-discovered the joy of reading newspapers. I can’t add any more, so read and enjoy.

Sadly, I doubt 20-somethings will ever learn the wonderfully tranquil experiences one can have with a newspaper. And it’s a shame.

* Dark clouds form over Denver: The Denver News Agency has drafted a letter to customers that says, as of March 1, they’ll be dealing with one newspaper in town — The Denver Post. The DNA, which is the JOA arm of the two Denver papers and operated advertising and circulation operations, says the letter is preliminary and the dates are merely placeholders.

Scripps announced last year that the Rocky Mountain News is up for sale and has solicited bids for buyers. Scripps has been mum about potential buyers, but the talk on the street has not been good.

And with the rival Denver Post’s owner, MediaNews Corp., interested in exercising its first rights of refusal with any potential buyer, it could effectively leave a Rocky buyer without a press, trucks, or ad salespeople.

Wait, is that a black glove suddenly appearing on Dean Singleton’s hand?

*News item: A.H. Belo executives get bonuses on the same day that they announce staff layoffs. Belo must be using AIG’s corporate playbook.

*Tired of all the bad news about newspapers, a group of news executives have started the newspaperproject.org, a site that they say “supports a constructive exchange of information and ideas about the future of newspapers.”

Again, quoting the site: “Unlike websites that feature negative, gloom-and-doom stories about newspapers, this website will be devoted to insightful articles, commentary and research that provide a more balanced perspective on what newspaper companies can do to survive and thrive in the years ahead.”

We could always use some good news in the industry, but I hope the projects founders do more than come up with ads that tout more people read the newspaper than watch the Super Bowl. As executives, I hope they can stir the pot of innovation to create and promote new and exciting products that can draw new readers and bring the business back into the black.

We can do all the cheerleading we want for newspapers, but if we don’t back it up with plans for the future, it becomes nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.


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