How a former Denver Post reporter helps everyone in Colorado get public records
If you’re a reporter in Colorado— or just a member of the public— and have run into trouble getting public records in the last two-and-a-half years, there’s a good chance you’ve turned to Jeffrey Roberts and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition for help. I caught up with Roberts this weekend for a profile in Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project that I hope you’ll find enlightening.
An excerpt from the piece:
“I still see myself as a journalist,” Roberts says. “I have other roles as well. When I was a writer and an editor at The Denver Post I did not see myself as any kind of advocate. But in this role I have to be an advocate.”
An advocate—and a resource. In a state where access to records leaves much to be desired, Roberts has emerged as the go-to guy for journalists and citizens who need help prying information from reluctant government entities.
Greg Griffin, investigations editor for the Post, said his reporters ping Roberts for ideas or for help finding useful case law when they run into obstacles getting records. “We just were always bumping up against trying to get information … making reasonable requests and not getting good results,” he said.
Read the rest here…
One year later— and no newspaper war in Denver
Around this time last year, Denver’s Phil Anschutz, the publicity-shy billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, was floating the idea of bringing back The Rocky Mountain News, ostensibly to compete with The Denver Post.
In a story called “Will Denver really have a newspaper war?” I wrote for CJR at the time:
When the news broke, some Rocky alumni thought it might be a hoax. But Ryan McKibben, CEO of Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group, confirmed that his company is conducting research—using a prototype of what a revived Rocky would look like online and in print—“to gather qualitative and quantitative data from potential readers.” He also told the [Denver Business Journal] Anschutz had quietly bought the right to use the Rocky’s name, URL, and intellectual property back in 2009 when the paper folded.
Some also wondered if the news wasn’t really just a heavy-handed attempt at leverage for terms in an Anschutz attempt to buy The Denver Post and acquire its legacy infrastructure at a better cost.
Now, a year later, those buzzy talks in the second week of December 2014 are a memory. I reached out to McKibben sometime earlier this year to check on the status but didn’t hear back. I was reminded about this recently in a piece at Capital New York titled “The End of the Tabloid War” about the whimpering battles between The New York Post andThe New York Daily News. In it was a reference to the old newspaper war in Denver back when The Rocky and The Post were still rumbling.
From the piece:
For a long time, the tabs thrived on this sense of swashbuckling combat. “Turmoil and uncertainty gripped the New York tabloid war as new owners of the New York Post and Daily News locked in a potentially deadly battle,” reads a 1993 Editor & Publisher article about a talent raid at the Post. The following year, the Times announced “the start of new hardball newspaper competition in the city” after the Post halved its newsstand price to 25 cents for nine days in a bid to snatch readers.
When the News launched a free afternoon paper called Daily NewsExpress in 2000, the Post retaliated by going down to 25 cents yet again, prompting comparisons to a pair of warring papers in Denver that had put themselves on sale for a penny. “If red ink trickled through the streets of Denver,” a September 2000 Times article suggested, “it threatens to course through the streets of Manhattan.” Five years later, Businessweek declared that a recent circulation surge at the Post had “escalated its archrivalry with the Daily News into the sort of apocalyptic struggle not seen since William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer locked egos a century ago.”
What you might have missed Sunday on the front pages across Colorado
Missed all the news important enough to make the nearly dozen Sunday front pages of Colorado’s newspapers? Here’s your roundup with links. While the links won’t appear in a different color, the text is clickable and will send you to the story.
- The Longmont Times-Call reported on the brutal journey of a South Sudanese refugee to Boulder County.
- In ‘Let’s Talk About Sext,’ The Greeley Tribune did just that.
- In ‘Mailbox to Nowhere,’ The Loveland Reporter-Herald writes about a woman who recovered teen love letters lost for 19 years. (She’d been putting them in a bank deposit slot thinking it was a mailbox when she was 16.)
- The image of a woman’s bound hands with “Sex for sale” accompanied a story about sex trafficking in The Pueblo Chieftain
- A suspended police officer graced the front page of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel for misusing a law enforcement database to get info on his ex-cop friend’s ex-wife. (He’s suspended; the woman wants to know why he wasn’t fired.) “The episode is the second of its kind for the Grand Junction Police Department in roughly the span of a year,” the paper reported.
- It was ugly Christmas sweaters on the front page of The Gazette in Colorado Springs Sunday, along with wild animals posing a threat to El Paso County drivers more than elsewhere.
- ‘DRONES UNLEASHED‘ blared The Fort Collins Coloradoan. The story was on the brisk business of drone sales.
- “Housing a top concern” in Boulder according to The Daily Camera’s front-page Sunday edition. Also, a story of a Colorado University student arrested in a fatal downtown stabbing of another student. (The university chancellor identified the victim before the coroner did.)
- For The Denver Post it was “BACKLASH”— about Muslim-Americans living in Denver after the Paris attacks— and “Bad cops given jobs” for the Sunday front.
- Baby boomers made the front page of The Durango Herald Sunday for a story headlined ‘OUR AGING COUNTY.’ Reporter Peter Marcus had two front page stories Sunday. One about livable wages being elusive for many in Durango, and another about the grocery-store funded ballot measure to get full-strength booze sold in grocery stores.
A judge just lifted the convictions against Moses-EL in Denver, who served 28 years
Susan Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent, broke the news last night, writing, “The prosecution of Clarence Moses-EL hinged on a sole piece of flimsy evidence – an assertion by the victim of the 1987 rape and assault that his identity as her attacker came to her in a dream.”
Greene has followed the case for years, since her time at The Denver Post. Watch her discuss how the Denver district attorney and authorities handled evidence in this case— evidence in a box marked “DO NOT DESTROY was tossed in a dumpster— in this September video interview.
Read full coverage about the case at The Colorado Independent here.
Colorado sheriff: “Being drunk is not a crime”
Cue everyone immediately moving to Miguel County, Colorado, amirite? Joking aside, the sheriff there, Bill Masters, is trying something new: moving detox cases out of the jail and into facilities and medical centers dedicated to dealing with people suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
From “Sobering Up,” a story by reporter Stephen Elliott at The Watch in Telluride:
“Being drunk is not a crime,” Masters said, adding that the county jail sees about 30 cases each year of people brought in for no other reason than alcohol or drug incapacitation.
Masters isn’t alone among county sheriffs, but other nearby sheriff’s departments have had more success transferring detox cases to a dedicated detox facility or hospital.
“We agree with Sheriff Masters. Jail is not the place for people to sober up,” Montrose County Undersheriff Adam Murdie said. “A highly intoxicated individual is a medical issue with many possible unforeseen results. We do not accept anyone in our jail that does not have criminal charges.”
Last Thing. Slow time of the year.
Not sure I’ll have a newsletter out next week as I’ll be traveling. But please send links and other tidbits my way anyway.
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