Your weekly roundup of Colorado news and media, March 1


Last Monday there was something missing from Colorado’s largest daily newspaper: For the first time in memory, no house editorial appeared in the pages of The Denver Post. I wrote about why for Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project.

From the story:

It wasn’t a glitch or a printing malfunction, just the latest small sign of retrenchment in the newspaper business. One of the Post’s editorial writers, Jeremy Meyer, left a few weeks ago for a job in government PR. There are no plans to replace him in the near future, according to Vincent Carroll, the editorial page editor.

Oh yeah, and as it turns out, one reporter at the Post actually did have laryngitis last week.

The design staff at The Longmont Times-Call wants to murder people when Mark is working

My online friend and nemesis Jim Romenesko still gets Colorado tips I don’t— even though I live here. But he’s always been a great source and link-sharer so I can’t complain. Indeed, a hat-tip is in order to Romo for spotlighting this screw-up in the Longmont Times-Call in which the design staff’s appetite for slaughter seems to have slipped past the copy desk and onto the front page of the sports section this week.

The blunder apparently came in a “trivia/factoid feature” that appears in the newspaper. This time it reads: “FIGURE THIS: 6,248” and under it, “The number of times combined the design staff wanted to murder someone while Mark was working.”

Ouch. That’s probably not the copy that was slated to go there. And something tells me Mark’s mom won’t be clipping this one out and putting it on the fridge this week. But his buddies might. (If he has any.)

Speaking of Longmont… 

The New Yorker this week had a pretty quirky profile of Longmont’s Peter Adeney, aka, “Mr. Mustache, the father of Mustachianism.” It’s here if you missed it.


Now his adherents know that he lives in Longmont, Colorado, a half hour northeast of Boulder—a Mustachian paradise. The town was founded by Chicagoans in 1871 as an agricultural utopia, and later thrived on the production of sugar beets. The heart of it is a grid of compact but stately homes with trees on small lots. In the past several years, a tech-based Boulder boom has spread to Longmont, lifting prices and reviving a once moribund downtown. I heard Boulderites refer to it as “Methmont,” but now it’s a craft-brew town, full of gut jobs and fixer-uppers, which Mr. Money Mustache often finds himself working on—for fulfillment, of course, since he doesn’t need money. He gets around town on foot or by bike. He uses his car only when he has to haul a load of more than a hundred pounds. He and his wife burn just two and half tanks of gas a year.

Area man, indeed.

Colorado Matters interviewed Americans For Prosperity’s state director for 20 minutes

“Colorado Matters” host Ryan Warner produces important, in-depth interviews for Colorado Public Radio about, well, matters in re: Colorado. And this week, for 20 minutes, he sat down with Michael Fields, the Colorado state director for the free-market Koch brothers-backed political group Americans For Prosperity, which has essentially grown nationwide — and here in Colorado — into an organization that rivals that of the modern Republican Party. Warner got into plenty of policy issues in his interview with Fields, and also why AFP does what it does, how activists decide on which issues to engage, and about AFP’s funding.

Fields pushed back on the perception that the Kochs rolled a dump truck full of cash into Colorado, saying, “the vast majority of our money here in Colorado comes from Colorado donors.” Warner noted that listeners have to take AFP’s word on its funding since the group doesn’t disclose its donors. Here in Colorado, Fields said the group has more than 120,000 activists under nine field directors.

Warner also interviewed POLITICO’s money-in-politics reporter Ken Vogel who has reported on the group. The whole segment is well worth a listen.

Politifact Colorado: Mostly true, mostly true, false 

No, POLITICO is not in Colorado … yet. But Politifact is. The Pulitzer Prize-winning service by The Tampa Bay Times has partnered with Denver’s KMGH 7NEWS. Now, “Every day, reporters and researchers examine statements by Colorado elected officials and candidates and anyone else who speaks up on matters of public importance. We research their statements and then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter.”

It looks like the Colorado franchise started in early February and has produced three fact checks to date: One on an ad by Emily’s List (mostly true), one on statements made by Hillary Clinton (mostly true), and the latest on something GOP U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said on a TV talk show (false.) You can read them all here.

Why I got threatened with a subpoena last week

Last week a judge fined the Colorado Republican Committee $10,000 in a complaint filed by a libertarian-leaning activist named Matt Arnold of Campaign Integrity Watchdog. I wrote about it here for The Colorado Independent. The fine led to a huge blowup between the activist and the state GOP, which accused him of basically trying to get work from the Republicans as part of a settlement offer in his case against them. A GOP spokesman sent me a copy of Arnold’s settlement offer, which I published. Arnold asked that I forward him the e-mail. Usually, when in a back-and-forth with sources for a story, I don’t get in the habit of furnishing source material. But Arnold believed the Republican Party sending me a copy of his settlement offer was improper, and he said he planned to take legal action. And, if I wouldn’t send him what they sent me, he told me he’d have it subpoenaed. So far nothing has happened in that regard, and I don’t expect it will. Welcome to reporting on the world of campaign finance in Colorado (where the state earned a D grade for that category in last year’s State Integrity Investigation).

Government sponsored news in The Pueblo Chieftain?

Lynn Bartels was a reporter for The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post before she took a job last year as the spokesperson for Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Now in government PR, Bartels is on the other end of the phone with reporters most days. She also writes a blog for the Secretary of State’s office that reads somewhat like the politics blog she wrote for The Denver Post. Jason Salzman wrote about what she’s doing as a new kind of flack journalism at his Big Media blog a few weeks ago.

But now it seems her blog posts are finding themselves in the news section of at least one newspaper in Colorado. Last week, The Pueblo Chieftain ran a piece Bartels wrote about her boss. When I tweeted about it, Bartels tweeted back: “We let people take our stuff, just like you guys.” She’s referring to The Colorado Independent where I’m a reporter, and where this appears at the end of each article: “Like this story? Steal it! Feel free to republish it in part or in full, just please give credit to The Colorado Independentand add a link to the original.”

And that can be a blessing and a curse. For instance, I can find my name on the cover of a Colorado alt-weekly the same week I find my byline at the conspiracy theory website InfoWars. Or, even weirder, hear a stranger’s voice saying “this reporter” in a video transcript of a re-published piece at Raw Story. That’s the price we pay for giveaways. Sharing stories helps The Independent reach a bigger audience, and hopefully helps some Colorado newspapers serve their readers better. But should newspapers be publishing pieces in the news section that are essentially press releases coming from the government?

I reached out to editors at The Chieftain over the weekend by e-mail and followed up Monday with a voicemail (to no reply) about what kind of disclosures might have appeared in the print edition or behind the digital paywall.

Colorado lawmakers gave us a double whammy in access to information this week

When I was in middle school there was a hallway prank kids would pull if someone left the combination lock to their locker unlocked. You’d turn the lock around so the back of it faced outward, making it harder for someone to open their locker. That was called a “whammy.” You could also turn the lock around and jam it backwards and sideways up against the locker handle and door, making it even harder to unlock. That was called a “double whammy.”

Well, this week Colorado lawmakers gave us one of those. A panel in the Senate brushed off an attempt to require Colorado nonprofit agencies that get as much as 95 percent of their money from the public to cough up records under the state’s public records laws. Meanwhile, another Senate panel nixed a measure aimed at making it easier for the press and public to obtain public records “in a machine-readable standard format” routinely used by whoever holds the record.

It was good to see The Denver Post editorial page tackle the subject. In fact, I came across the news about this in a tweet from the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition linking to a Post editorial.

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

Columbia Journalism Review’s press freedom correspondent Jonathan Peters teamed up with Chava Gourarie to explain why private-college police forces are a new front in the fight over public records. My Florida colleague on the project, Susannah Nesmith, introduced us to the woman fighting behind the scenes to defend open government in Florida. Trudy Lieberman, who focuses on healthcare-related news, wants more national news coverage on the coming cuts to Teamster pensions. And I wrote about how as staff shrinks, The Denver Post is cutting back on editorials.

Should journalists participate in today’s Super Tuesday caucuses?

The Colorado pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wants to know what you think. Since voting in the presidential early nomination contests in Colorado is not private — we use the neighborhood-gathering-caucus-system rather than a secret-ballot-pull-the-lever-primary — for reporters who are registered members of a political party, participating could be awkward. As an unaffiliated voter, I’m off the hook. What do you think? Answer back to the Colorado SPJ on Twitter here.

Want to know why we have caucuses and not a primary, and how that might change? I wrote about that this week here.

A Colorado loophole allows cops to keep your cash even if they drop the charges

Police need all the money they can get, so they’ve found a way to supplement their budgets. They keep cash they confiscate from Coloradans even if the charges against the person whose money they take are eventually dropped. KMGH 7NEWS reporters John Ferrugia, Brittany Freeman, Jason Foster, and Tony Kovaleski all had bylines on a report this week about the issue, and one lawmaker’s attempt to change the law.

Last Thing. I talked about the Colorado caucus process on KGNU independent community radio

Listen to it here and put a voice to a typeface.

*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 credit: GotCredit vie Creative Commons on Flickr]