Your weekly roundup of Colorado news and media, March 8

Jon S

April means a new editor for The Colorado Springs Gazette

In April, the publisher with a background in marketing and greeting cards will hand over the editorial reins of the daily newspaper in Colorado’s second-largest city to someone with a background in journalism. Following the departure of Joanna Bean in January, publisher Dan Steever stepped in as interim editor of The Gazette. But on April 4, former Washington Post and Denver Post alum— and Colorado College graduate— Vince Bzdek will take over.

From the announcement:

Over the past 10 years, he has held a variety of jobs at The Washington Post, including editor at large, news director, digital political editor and front-page editor. Before that, he was deputy managing editor at The Denver Post. He is an author and has lectured on politics and journalism.

Watch out for the potholes, Vince.

Public service: How to use The Colorado Channel’s awesome legislative video feature

When it comes to easily finding relevant video clips of your lawmakers debating laws that affect you, not all states are equal. In Virginia you have to request clips from the government. Ask for archived footage in South Carolina and you might get it on a CD when plenty of laptops these days don’t have CD drives. In Colorado it’s different — in a good way.

The Colorado Channel, operated by the Open Media Foundation, provides a free service for anyone who wants to watch what their elected state legislators are up to, live or after they’re done jawing on the floor. The website makes it easy to find House and Senate activities by date, bill number, or just by keyword. From each session archive you can also click to read supporting information on each piece of legislation. But what makes the channel stand out is what you can do with the video they provide and how easily you can play with it. The service is especially useful if you want to supplement your digital stories with video of what you’re writing about. I did it last week with a brief piece on a measure to tweak a bill so inmates couldn’t use Colorado’s “Make My Day” self-defense law against prison guards in their cells. If you click on the story, a video clip autoplays from the start of the short debate on the bill and ends right after.

Since a lot of you who get this email are reporters and editors, I caught up with Gavin Dahl, producer and director for The Colorado Channel, and asked him how journalists can better use their video for online stories.

“You can select a clip and the site will provide you an embed code to plug into a blog post or other online article,” he says. He continues:

Open a particular session, let’s say Colorado House 2016 Legislative Day 42. Underneath the video player, click the blue ‘Share This’ button. Now scroll through the indexed agenda items to the right of the player and click on, let’s say, HB16-1189 — on bingo raffle licenses. Notice the player jumps forward to 46:52. Now click the words “Set in Point,” and your first cue point is selected. Now on the right of the player click the next agenda item, in this case SB16-050. Now click “Set Out Point,” and you’ve highlighted the entire discussion on bingo raffles.

The Colorado Channel provides an embed code you can grab with a single click to use on your site. If you want to select a smaller clip than an entire discussion of one bill, simply scroll the player to the beginning of the clip, click “Set in Point” then scroll the player to the end of your chosen clip and click “Set Out Point” and you’re done!

“Alternatively,” he says, “you can download the full MP4 video file of any session from the Colorado Channel website. We suggest you download the free software MPEG Stream Clip and also make sure your Quicktime Player is up to date. Instructions here.”

I’ve talked to Dahl about whether he’d be interested in doing a brown-bag lunch tutorial for journalists in Denver one day if anyone is interested in learning more, and he said The Colorado Channel would be down. So if anyone is interested, drop me or him ( a line and we’ll re-connect about that. Open Media Foundation also works with local government agencies. Click here for more info.

What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado

It was infrastructure issues, people taking advantage of folks who can’t pay their bills, pity for mineral rights owners and more across the Sunday front pages of Colorado’s largest newspapers this week.

The Longmont Times-Call ran a story about a single investor who bought up more than 30 unpaid tax liens on mobile homes in Boulder County. Why? Wait for it … an “investment strategy.” The Greeley Tribune fronted a piece about what the local fire department learned from fighting a big oil-and-gas-related blaze last April. The Loveland Reporter-Herald had a story about a local teacher suing her school district following attacks from a student. The Pueblo Chieftain reported on the rise in participation of local neighborhood watch groups. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel had a big pull-out about potential tax questions on future local ballots.  It was all about local infrastructure on the Sunday front page of The Colorado Springs Gazette, with stories about how hard it is to fix the city’s potholes and Mayor John Suthers being ‘frustrated’ by an impasse over storm water projectsVail Daily had snowboarder Shaun White’s name on the cover if you can believe it. The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported on a Northern Colorado nurse accused of groping a drugged patient getting hired despite being fired twiceThe Boulder Daily Camera also looked at scrutiny over that investor’s purchase of mobile home tax liens, and also how spending on the municipality’s utility topped $10 millionThe Denver Post fronted stories about Colorado potentially going back to holding presidential primary elections instead of caucuses, and the plight of mineral rights owners in Colorado’s fracking wars (Subhead to the news story: “Access to underground assets must be protected as drilling restrictions proliferate.”) The Durango Herald ran a front page feature on local homeowners getting no help from insurance companies or the city when their water pipes broke even when the city infrastructure was to blame.

Something is absent from a Colorado study on police body cams

One of the first stories I wrote for CJR after moving to Colorado from the East Coast in 2014 was about how more police were wearing body cameras here, and when the footage from those cameras becomes a public record. (Spoiler: only when police want it to be public.) Since then I’ve reported on the nation’s first statewide police body camera bill — it was in South Carolina, which exempts footage from the state’s open records laws— and I generally follow the issue here.

So I was interested to see a state study on police body cameras come out in Colorado this week. Lawmakers had established a study group on the topic. But then I read this at Jeffrey Roberts’ Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition:

The final report of a state-appointed task force on police body cameras does not recommend when or under what circumstances captured video should be released to the public.

Grrrreeaaat. You can read the full report here.

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

Speaking of police body cams, my colleague Deron Lee wrote an important story in the debate over their use that features Melissa Click, the University of Missouri in Columbia communications professor who lost her job after her actions were caught on video— one of which came from a police body camera. Lee writes about how the case involving Click highlights tensions around such footage.

At their worst, executives at newspapers sometimes cave to advertisers. (I’m looking at you SF Weekly publisher). And sometimes they stand up to their advertisers in a very public way. Susannah Nesmith writes about a paper in Georgia that says it won’t back down after a hospital reportedly pulled ads because of coverage.

The Wall Street Journal ‘Stokols’ the U.S. Senator from Colorado

Politicians can be slippery. So sometimes it takes a few tries to get a straight answer. When Republican U.S Sen. Cory Gardner was running for the post in 2014, Eli Stokols, who was then a reporter for KDVR, famously pressed him several times on TV when the candidate said there “is no federal personhood bill” in Congress. This week, Reid Epstein of The Wall Street Journal got a snoot full of Senator Slick when trying to pin down whether he’d back the GOP nominee for president, even if it’s Donald Trump. It took seven times to get Gardner on the record, and the exchange was remarkable enough for the WSJ to print a verbatim transcript.

Database of all Colorado’s state laws is now free

In years past if you wanted a copy of an updated database of all the state statutes and notes on those laws it would cost you between $2,000 and $6,000 depending on the version. Now, lawmakers have decided to make it free, according to the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

Notes from the political beat in Colorado from The Colorado Independent

​The Colorado caucuses were chaos, so now party leaders are looking at switching to a presidential primary system. Democratic Sen. Morgan Carroll, running against Mike Coffman for Congress, called the GOP crop of presidential candidates “nutjobs” marching toward fascism. Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman gave a constitutional green light to reclassifying the hospital provider fee into an enterprise (here are five reactions to it). Gov. John Hickenlooper won’t even joke about a possible role in a potential Clinton White House. These two photos summed up the Clinton-Sanders showdown in Colorado where Bernie won by 19 points. Defense lawyers say cover-ups should disqualify Denver’s district attorney from the Moses-EL case. Naomi Klein talked climate change at CU-Boulder. A new possible swing seat for the flip-the-legislature file. The feds paid $175,000 to settle an ADX inmate suicide.

University of Northern Colorado’s journalism program is changing with the times

Like plenty of j-schools around the country, the UNC program is getting an update, focusing more on digital in its curriculum and even changing the name of its major to “journalism and media studies.”

“To be qualified for a job in the media, students must be prepared to use digital programs such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, and must be able to edit videos effectively,” writes the student paper, The Mirror. New classes “will be synthesizing marketing, public relations and advertising.” The name change makes it clearer “the program also prepares students for careers pertaining to social media.”

Last thing. Hey, we’re on TV.

My colleague at The Colorado Independent, Marianne Goodland, made her debut on TV talking legislative politics with KMGH 7News on their show Politics Unplugged last week. And I appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss the Colorado caucus results.

*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: Jon S via Creative Commons on Flickr]