Last Paper Standing chronicles the history of competition between the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News—from both newspapers’ origins to their joint operating agreement in 2001 to the death of the News in 2009—to tell a broader story about the decline of newspaper readership in the United States. The papers fought for dominance in the lucrative Denver newspaper market for more than a century, enduring vigorous competition in pursuit of monopoly control.
This frequently sensational, sometimes outlandish, and occasionally bloody battle spanned numerous eras of journalism, embodying the rise and fall of the newspaper industry during the twentieth century in the lead up to the fall of American newspapering. Drawing on manuscript collections scattered across the United States as well as oral histories with executives, managers, and journalists from the papers, Ken J. Ward investigates the strategies employed in their competition with one another and against other challenges, such as widespread economic uncertainty and the deterioration of the newspaper industry. He follows this competition through the death of the Rocky Mountain News in 2009, which ended the country’s last great newspaper war and marked the close of the golden age of Denver journalism.
Fake news runs rampant in the absence of high-quality news sources like the News and the Post of the past. Neither canonizing nor vilifying key characters, Last Paper Standing offers insight into the historical context that led these papers’ managers to their changing strategies over time. It is of interest to media and business historians, as well as anyone interested in the general history of journalism, Denver, and Colorado.