Alas, the Fort Collins Now is no more.
And so ends Fort Collins Now.
Weekly newspapers fill a very specific role in a community's media mix. Because they can't track breaking news, they tend to focus on features and in-depth investigative reporting. Fort Collins Now was at its absolute best when its reporters followed a story from start to finish, asking tough questions, digging deep and providing the readers with a clear narrative in one concise, well-written story.
It will be sorely missed.
Fort Collins Now isn't the first paper to cease publication, and it certainly won't be the last. Newspapers are a tough business with razor-thin margins. In the past few years, the free Craigslist service has hurt newspapers' classified advertising revenues. When this current recession hit, it simultaneously devastated two industries that have traditionally been cornerstone newspaper advertisers: auto sales and real estate. Today, just about every print publication in America is struggling. The Rocky Mountain News closed up shop earlier this year. The Tucson Citizen and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer have become online-only publications. The New York Times itself is bleeding red ink. This is happening all over the country, throughout the publishing industry.
But the demand for accurate reporting, in-depth features and insightful opinion goes on. People will always look for well-written articles about their local community, government and culture. They will continue to seek out challenging commentary. The decline of the newspaper industry is not a decline in the demand for news. It is simply a reshuffling of the business model.
We're seeing a fragmenting of media, driven by the technology that allows anyone to self-publish online. I believe that because of this lower barrier to entry, five years from now we'll have more news gatherers, more columnists and more publications than we have today in Fort Collins. The content will be more compartmentalized and more opinion-driven. You'll have familiar voices that you agree with and trust to provide your news ... and your next door neighbor will probably be reading someone completely different.
(Actually, we've seen this before. At the turn of the century there were more than a dozen New York newspapers, each with its own point of view and each with its own readership. As the cost of publication rose, they consolidated, but when costs are low, media fragmentation is the norm.)
I joined Fort Collins Now when it was the Weekly almost four years ago. By my count, I've written 122 columns, more than 75,000 words of opinion. I hope that I've raised a few questions, made you laugh, and represented my beliefs well. Maybe I've even won a few readers over to my side.
I'll continue writing online at my Web site, www.nocopolitics.com, and I hope you'll continue to read what I have to say — even if you disagree. More importantly, however, I hope you'll join me online. Start your own blog. Find your niche and start writing. Football fanatic? Write about the Rams' chances this fall. Political junkie? File a weekly report from the City Council meeting. Got an opinion about the restaurants in town? Write reviews. That is the future of media, for better and for worse. Be a part of it.
Finally, not many people realize how I came to write a regular column for Fort Collins Now. I joined what was then the Fort Collins Weekly at the invitation of then-editor Greg Campbell. Campbell had read a rather harsh critique of one of his stories that I had posted online, and he tracked me down and offered me a column.
That dedication to building a diverse and wide-reaching group of commentators is community journalism at its finest. It is the proud legacy of Fort Collins Weekly/Fort Collins Now, and it will be missed.
Wherever this new media takes us, let's try to emulate that type of open exchange of opinion.