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On the same day, the Rocky Mountain News published its final edition, the Advocate newsroom gathered to talk about our goals for the coming year.

The timing was coincidental. Managing editor Thomas Martinez scheduled the retreat before we knew Friday would be the Rocky's last day. The news, though, certainly gave more urgency to our goals of building audience and better connecting relevant content to useful advertising.

As I reminded the group gathered, the Advocate is a family-owned newspaper on solid financial footing. Fortunately, the company isn't saddled with the mountain of debt plaguing publicy traded media companies. We also focus on local news and advertising and are less disrupted by the Internet than metro newspapers like the Rocky.

In addition, the Rocky was part of a Joint Operating Agreement, an odd government creation meant to keep two newspapers in a city long after it made financial sense to do so. In a bad economy, even the government can't save two-newspaper cities.

The Advocate, by far and away, is the dominant way for local advertisers to reach their customers. We reach nine out of 10 people in Victoria County and seven out of 10 in the nine-county Crossroads region.

Even so, we know we must keep pushing forward in many ways. That's why much of our focus in the coming year will be digital and niche while keeping the print edition strong.

We expect this will be a tough year for every business. If the recession doesn't scare you, you're not paying attention. I shed a tear for the Rocky, for my friends there and for democracy. Such a loss weakens our society.

I am grateful to be a part of a newspaper so long interwoven into the fabric of its community. Our goal in the coming year is to become even more tightly knit in the digital age.