Ex-newspaper ad saleswoman says in lawsuit she was forced to pray

There’s likely been a lot of prayer these days at Colorado newspapers — and financially beleaguered publications around the planet for that matter — but rarely is it enforced by a supervisor as a former Glenwood Springs Post Independent ad saleswoman alleges in a lawsuit.

According to the Aspen Daily News, Mary Proctor claims in a discrimination suit against the Post Independent, its owner, Reno-based Swift Communications, and her former supervisor, Clifford Fewel, that Fewel ended staff meetings with prayers and ordered her to spend her lunch hours attending church.

Proctor also alleges in her suit filed in late February in U.S. District Court in Denver that Fewel told her she’s be better at her job if she was male and that he ultimately improperly fired her because she didn’t share his religious beliefs. Fewel was also later fired, according to the Times, and went on to form the comedy troupe Laugh Your Aspen Off.

Swift’s other Colorado papers, from the Greeley Tribune on the Front Range to the Summit Daily News, Vail Daily, Grand Junction Free Press and Aspen Times on the Western Slope, have been struggling along with the rest of the industry.

Formerly immune to the vagaries of the economy, community papers have seen revenues plummet in the recent recession. The Summit Daily and Vail Daily recently slashed editorial staff, including former Denver Post mountain-bureau reporter Steve Lipsher, who in a passionate parting column last week wrote he was excited to join a small-town paper last May because they “capture the essence of news.”

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