As she passed by a table in front of a King Soopers on East 13th Avenue in Denver on Saturday, Ellen Dumm was surprised to hear a man ask her if she wanted to subscribe to the “new Rocky Mountain News.”
Maybe she’d give it a try, she thought. She was a big fan of the Rocky, which was shuttered in 2009.
Then he said the new Rocky was called the “Denver Gazette.“
That’s when Dumm, who is a former journalist and current communications strategist, knew it was a “crock of BS,” and she said so on Twitter and Facebook.
“Hey Denver Gazette,” Dumm wrote on Facebook, “if you are going to have your grocery marketing people tell people you are the revival of the Rocky Mountain News, you better step up your game. I knew the Rocky Mountain News – it was a great paper – and you’re no Rocky Mountain News! Don’t fall for this BS!”
Dumm said as much to the Gazette salesperson, who was offering King Soopers’ credits to anyone who signed up for a $20 three-month subscription to the Gazette.
But the young Denver Gazette sales guy was most likely just trained to invoke the Rocky Mountain News in his pitch, Dumm speculated. He almost certainly didn’t come up with the promotional idea himself.
Denver Gazette editor Luigi del Puerto didn’t return a call for comment, but Dumm’s theory comports with an online advertising campaign paid for by the Gazette.
And it seems in line with the thinking of the Gazette‘s executive editor, Vince Bzdek. He has said — without citing evidence — that there are “not very many moderate or conservative” voices in the Denver media landscape since the demise of the Rocky, and he wants to feature them in the Denver Gazette.
The Gazette ad, which has been running on Facebook since January of last year, states, “The Gazette is Denver’s newest source for breaking news, sports, weather, politics, business, art, entertainment, blogs, video, obituaries, photos, comics, and the best of The Rocky Mountian News.”
Clarity Media, which is the parent company of the Denver Gazette and is owned by GOP billionaire Phil Anschutz, purchased the assets and rights to the “Rocky Mountain News” name.
“I read the Denver Gazette most days, but I never find myself thinking it sounds anything like the late, great Rocky,” wrote Littwin. “Phil Anschutz may own the rights to the Rocky’s assets, but I’m pretty sure the assets don’t include the fond memories of Rocky readers.”
Bzdek has promoted the idea that the Gazette is reviving elements of the Rocky Mountain News.
“I grew up in Denver when we had The Post and the [Rocky Mountain] News as well,” Bzdek told right-wing radio host George Brauchler in September of last year. “I delivered the Rocky. And you know, the main thing we felt like some of those voices that the Rocky Mountain News brought to the conversation in Denver had gone missing. And we felt [the Denver Gazette] could bring those back, you know, voices like yours, George, a wider range of opinion to talk about how to solve our problems, all sides of issues. … We felt like there was a lot of liberal voices in Denver, not very many moderate or conservative ones.”
When the Gazette launched in 2020 as an online publication, Publisher Chris Reen said the Denver Gazette planned to publish something from the Rocky Mountain News archive every day. But this has apparently not happened. He said at the time that the Gazette’s parent company, Clarity Media, considered reviving the Rocky online but didn’t re-launch the newspaper because it had invested so much in the Gazette brand. Clarity Media owns the Colorado Springs Gazette and other conservative newspapers, including Colorado Politics, an online and print product.
Disclosure added on 8/17/23: The author of this article was a media critic for the Rocky.