DENVER — A Colorado congressman told bloggers that they and other new media are responsible for the demise of the Rocky Mountain News and other traditional news outlets, and that the change is mostly for the better. He later apologized.
Rep. Jared Polis made the remarks last weekend at a Denver event sponsored by Netroots Nation, a progressive political group. The News published its last edition Friday.
"I have to say, that when we say, 'Who killed the Rocky Mountain News?' we are all part of that, we truly are. For better or worse, and I argue that it's mostly for better," the Democrat said.
"Media is dead, and long live new media, which is all of you," he said.
Polis also said at the event that bloggers and citizen journalists carry a new responsibility since they're part of the reason for the demise of other news outlets.
"We can't just kill it and walk away," he said. "It's important for all of us to reach out to some of those ... on the other side and present the progressive point of view," he said.
John Temple, the former publisher and editor of the News, called Polis' remarks misguided and said they were an example of the congressman's poor judgment.
"The Rocky Mountain News was a pioneer in citizen journalism . . . and is an award-winning Internet newspaper," Temple said.
Polis issued a statement Tuesday apologizing "to the entire Rocky Mountain News family and anyone who was offended by my recent remarks."
"I did not mean to offend nor to show anything less than a strong sense of remorse for the loss of the Rocky," Polis said. "Like many Colorado residents, I grew up reading the Rocky Mountain News and its demise and the loss of over 200 jobs is a major blow to our community, especially in these troubled times."
Polis also had tempered his remarks on Monday, telling The Denver Post that the closure silenced a voice in the state.
"The rise of new media and citizen journalism has hastened the demise of many newspapers, and we, unfortunately, all share in the blame," Polis said.
Polis was elected to his first term in November. An online entrepreneur, he made a fortune selling greeting cards and flowers on the Internet.
On the Net:
Polis' comments: http://netrootsnation.org/node/1086