Why The Denver Post’s pot editor has to ‘remain sober at work’ 

Why The Denver Post’s pot editor has to ‘remain sober at work’ 


Awww, man, why? Dude. Duuuuude. Why? A recent profile of The Denver Post’s marijuana editor Ricardo Baca by the Time Inc.-operated breakfast-themed website Extra Crispy came with this head-shaker of an opening graf:

Ricardo Baca is decidedly not stoned. Even though as the marijuana editor of The Denver Post and creator of the publication’s The Cannabist blog, it’s his job to try, know and research everything that has to do with weed. But he is a working man, and between an agreement with the newspaper to remain sober at work and his desire to stay productive, Baca doesn’t partake in even the tiniest sliver of weed-laden baked goods while on the job.

Whoa! When I pinged Baca about this on Twitter, fellow Post reporter Jon Murray responded, “That dude works unbelievably hard, so I’m not surprised!” Which threw me into a brief existential-question-shame-spiral about What is the meaning of work? As a journalist I feel like I’m always working. Even on vacation. It’s not something I can very easily just, ya know, turn off. But then I realized I hadn’t read the whole piece. And guess what? Baca actually gets into more about the work-weed balance and how he asked for protections from the company given what he covers for the paper.

What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado 

Did you spend Sunday watching the Fly Fishing World Championship in Vail and neglect all the stories fit for the big day front page?

Well, The Longmont Times-Call reported how golf courses pose a problem for the city.The Greeley Tribune localized the oil and gas decline by explaining how it affected auctions at a county fair. The Loveland Reporter-Herald reported on a police lawsuit. The Pueblo Chieftain ran a Sunday front page feature no newspaper wants to run: A note to readers apologizing for delays in the paper’s home-delivery service. The Steamboat Pilot ran a big cover story about transparency— or the lack thereof in some cases— in local city government. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel fronted coverage of the first U.S. Senate debate, which took place in the paper’s city. The Gazette in Colorado Springs also put its debate coverage on the front page. The Fort Collins Coloradoan had a special report cover story about a former college athlete who is now a marijuana entrepreneur.The Boulder Daily Camera reported on an officer-involved gun fight. The Durango Herald fronted coverage of a debate between two area candidates for the Colorado House. The Denver Post had a story about a rafting company being on probation when a boy drowned during a trip.

Speaking of that Denver Post story, getting information to report it was a pain in the…

Just give me another reason to dump all over Colorado’s shameful approach to transparency this week, right? Look at what the paper had to go through to get an answer to a pretty straightforward question:

It took The Denver Post multiple days, a Colorado Open Records Act request and more than $100 to receive a list of rafting companies on probation.

Just cough up it up, already. The Post story was a follow-up to a special investigation published in June called “Death on the River.”

But OK, some Colorado local governments are being transparent

Credit where credit is due. An item this week by Michael Morisy in Muckrack called “Why emails should be subject to FOIA, explained” caught my eye for its mention of a city here in Colorado. Morisy runs down what he likes about ways in which some entities let the sunlight in, and he included this:

Another of my favorite examples is the City of Fort Collins, which has proactively released every city council email not specially marked private for the past two years. Anyone can log in and search email at will, and it’s worked well enough that the council has kept up the practice.

This feature of Fort Collins government also made a big story in Steamboat Today this week, which began with this lede: “Sometimes, citizens read Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell’s emails before he does. And he doesn’t think it’s that odd.” The system costs the city about $2,000 per year to operate, and the cost is apparently worth it, according to the mayor. “It’s been a useful and positive thing for the community,” he said.

Department of call the wahmbulance: A bipartisan debate diss for the state’s largest newspaper

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn’s campaign is blacklisting The Denver Post and won’t take part in a debate sponsored by the paper. “Glenn declined to participate in a proposed Denver Post/7News debate,” the paper reported. But it ain’t no Republican thing. Because so did Morgan Carroll, the Democratic candidate in the closely watched 6th District congressional race (which I profiled this week here). “Carroll’s campaign declined an invitation to participate in a debate put on by The Denver Post,” the paper reported. Her campaign wanted to do debates that reach the most people, especially televised ones like on Univision, CBS4 and a Fox debate, a spokesperson says.

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

My colleague Deron Lee has a Q-and-A with Kansas professor Scott Reinardy about what he learned working on a book about a “lost generation” of journalists. Jackie Spinner writes about how in Chicago, a student paper’s traffic spiked with coverage of a dean’s controversial note. David Uberti has a story about one local newspaper looking for someone to write, edit, lay out, and deliver a newspaper. Anna Clark writes about a new era for one of the oldest community outlets in the U.S. in Flint, Michigan. CJR’s press freedom correspondent asks if a police officer is a ‘public official’ and how the Supreme Court could decide that soon. And Trudy Lieberman writes how a Detroit paper uncovered a dirty surgical tool problem at city hospitals.

A look at student-run newspapers in Colorado Springs

This week, Colorado Springs alt-weekly columnist Laura Eurich wrote about how the private liberal arts Colorado College and the nearby public UCCS might not have much in common, but do share one thing: “the presence of weekly newspapers, run by the students.”

“At CC, students can find The Catalyst and at UCCS it’s The Scribe,” she writes, checking in with some former editors and other sources about the role of campus newspapers in the Springs and elsewhere. Find the column, titled “The roots of true journalism,” here.

Musical chairs: Denver Post politics reporter bolts for The Gazette, Gazette reporter joins DP op-ed page

Politics reporter Joey Bunch left The Denver Post this week and will be joining the political team at The Gazette in Colorado Springs. He’ll stay in Denver. The move is another signal that the newspaper, owned by Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz, is making a larger play for statewide politics coverage in Colorado.

Meanwhile, Gazette political reporter Megan Schrader will leave to join the opinion page of The Denver Post.

Notes from the political beat from The Colorado Independent 

My colleague Marianne Goodland profiled the 3rd Congressional District race between GOP incumbent Scott Tipton and Democrat Gail Schwartz, explaining why it could flip. I reported how Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet still hasn’t taken a position on the TPP global trade agreement and doesn’t know if he will before the election. Kelsey Ray offered a post-mortem for how the anti-fracking measures failed to make this year’s ballot, and also how an email controversy highlights CU regents’ problem with climate change. Goodland reported how legislative campaign committees are sitting on millions and about how a Colorado valley became the center of the Dark Sky movement. I came away with eight takeaways from the Grand Junction U.S. Senate debate this weekend, and reported how GOP Congressman Mike Coffman quietly signed onto the Voting Rights Amendment Act. Also: Check out some of the answers to The Colorado Independent’s 2016 candidate questionnaire.

A Vox.com video has a Colorado connection

On Twitter this week, explainer journalism site Vox.com re-upped one of their Vox Conversations from 2014, and it was Ezra Klein discussing the study of conspiracy theories with Harvard professor Cass Sunstein. At about about 5:30, Sunstein discusses an empirical study he did a few years ago in Colorado showing how if you let an issue loose in a room of like-minded people they come to a more extreme view on that issue. For the study he turned to our fair state, getting people in conservative Colorado Springs and liberal Boulder to talk to each other about climate change, same-sex marriage and another issue. “The liberals just talked to the liberals and the conservatives just talked to the conservatives,” Sunstein said. “In Colorado Springs they got much more conservative on all three issues, and they got unified.” Watch the whole video for more context about what that means here.

Last thing. Watch me moderate a debate between third party candidates in the U.S. Senate race

I suppose it was inevitable. After covering the Green and Libertarian Party candidates in the U.S. Senate race so much, I’ve been asked to moderate debates between them on three college campuses along the Front Range before the Nov. 8 election. The first event pops this Thursday, Sept. 15, at CU Boulder’s Old Main Chapel at 7 p.m. Come check it out if you’re in the area.

*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

Photo by Jeff Nelson via Creative Commons on Flickr

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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.

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