The backstory to an ‘absolutely hilarious’ headline typo in a Colorado newspaper

Your weekly roundup of Colorado local news & media for June 20

The backstory to an ‘absolutely hilarious’ headline typo in a Colorado newspaper

Arn Menconi, the Green Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado, can’t catch a break. He just wants some news coverage of his third-party bid.

But the MSM have been ignoring him since he won his party’s nomination in April. Heck, even an alternative weekly won’t return his calls. But the former Eagle county commissioner has a strategy to push out his name and ideas to the public: Every week he submits a guest column or letter to the editor to about 90 outlets. Some are receptive, others aren’t. Some say they’ll only accept one column or letter from a candidate per election cycle, which Menconi sees as an infringement on his First Amendment rights. Sometimes, when a paper does run his submission, they forget to let him know.

So Menconi was excited on Saturday to see the mainstream daily newspaper near his hometown, The Post-Independent newspaper in Glenwood Springs, pick up his latest guest column. Well, that is, until he saw the headline in the paper’s print edition. Instead of “We need common sense gun solutions,” the headline read, “We need common sense guy solutions.”

What a howler!

Menconi took it well. “Absolutely hilarious,” he told me. “We can solve our gun problem, but there’s no way in hell we can solve our guy problem.” Menconi said the typo might even have a positive effect because it’s so eye-catching. “Gun control is very, very controversial and the only thing maybe as controversial is mansplaining, and that’s what it kind of came across as,” he said. Good sport.

‘I personally feel I have nothing to lose anymore— they’ve already gutted the place’

The above quote is from an investigative projects reporter at The Denver Post who has been at the paper for a decade. She told me that line for a story I wrote about a Friday demonstration by the newspaper’s union journalists, who rallied outside their office against their hedge-fund owner.

From my piece in The Colorado Independent:

Outside the building, which is just a few blocks from the state Capitol, the newspaper’s employees wore T-shirts sporting the hashtag #NewsMatters. They carried signs reading “We need a responsible owner,” “Journalists hold the powerful accountable,” and “Quality journalism over corporate greed.” A blown-up mockup of a newspaper front page leaned against a wall with headlines reading “What happens to communities when hedge funds own newspapers?” and “Denver Post journalists rally to protect quality journalism.”

Journalist members of The Denver Newspaper Guild fear more layoffs if the 26 buyout offers in the latest round aren’t accepted by a deadline this week. “We are here today to collectively ask The Post’s parent company— DFM and Alden Global Capital— to accept the number of buyouts and not seek further job reductions through layoffs,” said reporter Kieran Nicholson through a bullhorn at the rally.

Read my coverage of the story here. Denver’s alt-weekly Westword created a photo slide show of the rally, and Channel 4 in Denver also covered it. The Denver Post did not. “But it looked like news to me,” Nicholson said. Nick Gorke, a reporter who covers baseball for The Post, posted a story in a series of tweets on Twitter about his paper’s relationship with its owner, which he described as “a vulture capital firm called Alden Global, a greedy, shifty group of a-holes whose latest play is investing in Greek debt.”

It’s interesting to see reporters talking about their owners like this, especially given the news out of Las Vegas, where The Review-Journal’s strict social media policy makes tweeting anything that could adversely affect the company’s business interests a potentially fireable offense.

Why The Aspen Times wouldn’t publish an exclusive video shot by its photographer

“It isn’t often that a news organization has a huge scoop on video but chooses not to publish it out of principle and compassion.” Thats’s the lede from a Westword story by Michael Roberts this week. And ain’t that the truth. But that was the decision by The Aspen Times, Roberts wrote, “in regard to footage shot by staff photographer Jeremy Wallace during a rafting trip that ended in the death of James Abromitis, a 58-year-old man from Maryland, near a section of the Roaring Fork River with the ominous name Slaughterhouse Falls.”

It turns out the news photographer, also rafting that day, was wearing a GoPro camera and was shooting video for the paper’s website in the same boat as the man who fell out of it and died. The Aspen Times story of the incident, largely sourced by the photographer, came with this:

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times’ photographer and videographer Jeremy Wallace captured GoPro footage of the following incident, but The Aspen Times has chosen not to publish any of the footage on AspenTimes.com out of respect for the family.

Westword’s Roberts writes that the death is under investigation by the county sheriff and it’s “no doubt the video … will be instrumental in bringing the tragic case to a conclusion.” Roberts offered a salute to The Aspen Times for putting the deceased and his family “ahead of a potential page-view bonanza.”

But this story is worth highlighting for another reason…

In a major Sunday feature, The Denver Post’s Jennifer Brown produced a detailed look at death statistics, regulations, and risks for Colorado’s $163 million dollar commercial rafting industry one year after the death of an 11-year-old boy. Seven more people have died on guided trips in Colorado since. (Companies guide about 500,000 people each year.)

An excerpt from her enterprise project:

There are no state regulations that stipulate the appropriate age for intermediate or expert rafting trips, or age limits when water flow is high, or when rafts are loaded too lightly. No law requires rafting guides to have radio or satellite phone communication — although that might not matter because reception is spotty in remote canyon stretches.

The story package also comes with a reported look at each of the dozen rafting deaths in Colorado in 2014 and 2015, “based primarily on Colorado Parks and Wildlife incident reports, which include sheriffs’ and coroners’ documents.”

Read Brown’s important #longread here.

The Colorado Statesman — NOW with new editor!— appears as an insert in The Denver Post

Several weeks ago a TV reporter approached me at the Capitol and asked if it was true that The Colorado Independent would soon be printed as an insert in The Denver Post. I said I thought that was unlikely. Hmm. Maybe it was The Colorado Statesman, the reporter said. Or maybe it was nothing. Never mind, he said, maybe he’d heard wrong. Well, it turns out a special edition of The Statesman will end up inside The Denver Post on Thursdays, per an announcement from Statesman publisher Jared Wright, a former GOP lawmaker. New readers of The Statesman, Wright wrote in his announcement, “will learn to consider us the PEOPLE Magazine of Colorado politics.”

“This is not a journalistic partnership among friends, but a ‘business deal,’ according to Post Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, who told me in an email that she doesn’t know the details,” writes progressive consultant and former Rocky Mountain News media critic Jason Salzman at his BigMedia blog.

More from the Salzman item:

“ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT” is printed on the bottom of the front page of today’s Statesman insert in The Post. There’s no other indication, throughout the 16-page insert, that The Statesman is an advertisement. As such, it’s kind of like the Sunday Parade Magazine insert, which is an ad, and in the same ballpark as outrageous news inserts, like fake news provided by the oil and gas industry, that aren’t labeled clearly enough as ads. Thankfully, the articles in these advertisements don’t appear in searches for news articles on The Post’s website or archive.

Salzman’s critique is that he’d like the content better labeled as advertising, lest readers believe The Denver Post is endorsing The Statesman, an entity that doesn’t disclose its links to GOP donor Larry Mizel. Denver Post politics reporter John Frank appeared skeptical of the arrangement, tweeting, “The Republican-led Statesman is now distributing “advertising” political content. Wow.”

This development reminded me of something I covered for Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project in North Carolina three years ago. A Republican lawmaker believed the local daily in Asheville near his district was essentially a liberal rag and its readers deserved to know what was really going on in Raleigh. So he put together a special publication called Raleigh Digest and paid to have it inserted in The Asheville Citizen-Times as an advertisement— and as a vehicle to get his publication in front of more readers. But the paper failed to label the insert as advertising and had to apologize. The funny thing was, the lawmaker behind the insert never saw it as political advertising in the first place and insisted Raleigh Digest was a “new competitor in the news market.”

In other Statesman news, the pub has a new managing editor, Betta Ferrendelli, a veteran journalist who said in a column this week that her management style is to treat people “fairly and with respect.” No doubt Statesman employees will welcome that approach. Who wouldn’t?

The Denver Post’s other problems beyond its hedge-fund owner…

Peter Blake, a former political columnist for the defunct Rocky Mountain Newswrote this week in CompleteColorado about some changes in terms for subscribers of The Denver Post. Subscriptions will be shortened by a month (or more) unless you forgo four “special” editions per year. “What’s more, those with subscription complaints not worked out with the circulation department are henceforth going to have to go to arbitration,” he writes, calling it “a tactic usually reserved for big corporations who want to settle contract disputes without having to wait for the slow-grinding court system.”

Blake predicts many subscribers will throw away the letter, which means they’ll automatically be enrolled in the new deal. “But they must be expecting some kind of trouble,” he adds, quoting from a Post letter to subscribers that reads in part, “It is always our intention to resolve any dispute with a simple call to customer care. However, some disputes are not immediately resolved. That is why we are instituting an arbitration program.”

Writing for Westword, Michael Roberts called this development — in a headline no less — “the latest way The Denver Post is alienating the subscribers it has left.” He also obtained a document that “includes talking points for staffers dealing with angry subscribers.” Yikes.

What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado

Did you spend Sunday morning on the phone with dad and miss all the news fit for the front pages of the state’s big dailies? Here’s your roundup:

The Longmont Times-Call had a piece about how to save your ash trees from the emerald ash borer, an invasive pest that’s been found in Longmont.

With “Brace for Impact,” The Greeley Tribune looked at the local effect of new federal overtime worker rules.

The Loveland Reporter-Herald had a story about a $4 million conservation project grant.

Steamboat Today had a cover story called “Pipe problems,” not about marijuana paraphernalia, but about a proposed snowboarder half pipe.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel ran the print headline “Woman plucks son from jaws of cougar” and also a story about what it’s like living next door to dead-animal hoarders. (Spoiler: the smell, “if you come outside, it’s on your teeth.”)

The Pueblo Chieftain ran a piece about a local water panel in need of fresh faces.

Vail Daily had a story about a pending vote on local tax increases. (The paper also has the death photo online of the mountain lion that attacked the kid near Aspen.)

The Fort Collins Coloradoan ran a feature on the latest battleground for local housing rules.

The Colorado Springs Gazette ran a story about the city continuing to allow home building in landslide zones.

The Boulder Daily Camera had a feature about pets owned by the local homeless.

The Durango Herald had a big feature on local housing growth.

The Denver Post fronted its feature about a family seeking regulatory reforms of Colorado’s commercial white-water rafting industry following the death of their son last year.

Now for some news on the local media front from CJR’s United States Project

My colleague Susannah Nesmith writes about a small-town Georgia man with a “unique weapon”— he owns the local newspaper— taking on a goliath waste company.

Jackie Spinner tells us how a Chicago reporter ‘explodes stereotypes’ with unexpected stories about the city and about a photojournalist telling the stories of Chicago police torture victims.

David Uberti writes about how a New Jersey newspaper shows how notto use a police scanner for reporting, a piece that features a reference to reporting in Colorado Springs.

*This roundup appears a little differently as a published version of a weekly e-mailed newsletter about Colorado local news and media. If you’d like to add your e-mail address for the unabridged versions, please subscribe HERE

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

1 Comment

  1. Tom in Green Valley Ranch on said:

    I called the Denver Post and opted out of the occasional Special Editions. The Post representative on the phone line was nice and seemed to take down my request OK. But when I asked for a reference number or some other way to document my request, she was puzzled that I would need any such documentation. I thought that documentation might come in handy in order to verify the proper length of the Denver Post subscription without the Special Editions. If there’s a problem at renewal time, It would be nice not to waste the mediator’s time in order to prove my opt-out request. Such silliness at the Denver Post.

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