Your weekly roundup of Colorado news and media, March 15

Toronto History

Horror story: Stephen King once tried to write for The Boulder Daily Camera … and was rejected!

Prolific novelist Stephen King is known for his love of all things Maine, where he lives. But, according to The Boulder Daily Camera, he once briefly lived in Boulder, Colorado, and tried unsuccessfully to get some movie reviews published in the local newspaper there. This was before the publication of his first blockbuster Carrie.

From the Camera:

In September 1974, while living with his family in south Boulder’s Martin Acres neighborhood, the 26-year-old writer and future master of horror mailed a typewritten letter to the Camera’s features editor.

You can read the letter here. The newspaper’s editor turned the pitches down, and King never wrote for The Daily Camera.

More from the paper’s 125th anniversary issue:

Looking back on the episode decades later, [editor] Paddock conceded it was just as well the newspaper didn’t hire the soon-to-be-superstar horror writer. “He couldn’t have gone on like that,” Paddock said. “He’s a novelist making millions of dollars and he wouldn’t have made that as a newspaper reporter. But it would have been nice to have him among our alumni.”

And, it seems, King himself gave the newspaper the same treatment they gave him back before he was famous. “Attempts to query King through his agent and book publicists, and even directly via Twitter, were unsuccessful,” the paper reported. Somewhere, karma is a creepy clown named Pennywise.

Springs alt-weekly columnist on the Gazette’s new editor hire: He ain’t no ‘sleepy hack’

A major feature of alternative weekly newspapers in large American cities has always been to act as a kind of watchdog of its city’s daily newspaper. I wish I saw more of it at The Colorado Springs Independent, but last week’s issue did carry a column about The Colorado Springs Gazette’s new editor hire. Columnist John Hazelhurst put the paper’s hiring of Vince Bzdek (he starts next month) in context of some recent changes at The Gazette, and what Hazelhurst thinks the move is telegraphing.

From the Colorado Springs Indy:

Hiring Bzdek signals that the Gazette’s upper management still understands and supports good journalism. Bzdek isn’t a sleepy hack, there to put a smiley face on ruthless corporate cost-cutting. He shouldn’t be under continuous pressure to cut personnel, reduce coverage and degrade the news product, though his Gazette predecessors have had to deal with that.

Here’s to hoping he’s right.

The Durango Herald used a big open records request of local government to test its compliance

“In recognition of Sunshine Week, The Durango Herald asked three municipalities, three school districts, La Plata County government and Fort Lewis College to provide purchasing invoices, credit card payments and items that went to bid for the entire month of March 2015,” reads the lede of a Sunday front-page story in the regional Colorado newspaper. “The purpose of the open records request was not so much to examine the finances of these public institutions— although we will do that— as it was to gauge how they comply with an expansive open records request.”

So what did the paper find? “All of the eight agencies responded within the three days, as required under the Colorado Open Records Act,” reports the Herald. But there’s more to the story, and you can read it here.

And because it’s Sunshine Week, here’s your Colorado forecast from the man who knows best

In December I profiled Jeffrey Roberts for a CJR piece about what the former Denver Post reporter and editor is doing in his new role as an advocate for open government and transparency as head of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. So who better to go to for a statewide forecast on the issue during the week all journalists celebrate thatsomewhat apocryphal of best disinfectants. SPOILER: It’s cloudy.

On Roberts’s CFOIC blog, he writes about the efforts of Rocky Mountain PBS investigative reporter Katie Wilcox who “requested five years of records from six cities on when police stop people for suspicious behavior and other reasons.” And guess what? The jurisdictions weren’t uniform in their responses, imagine that. Read the rest of her saga here.

More Sunshine Week coverage from across the state

Colorado Public Radio talked with The Independence Institute’s Todd Shepherd about whether state agency e-mails are too easily deleted. Pagosa Daily Post editor Bill Hudsonlearned a judge gave a favorable ruling in his lawsuit against a town council that challenged a closed-door meeting. Writing in The Fort Collins Coloradoan, Kris Kodrich, a journalism professor at Colorado State University and the Society of Professional Journalists’ State Sunshine Chair for Colorado, says open-records issues should always be in the spotlight.

The stories newspapers showcased on their Sunday front pages across Colorado this weekend

It’s Tuesday, and that hungover Sunday morning is a distant memory. Here’s what you missed.

The Denver Post showed it’s not just a Denver newspaper with a big Sunday pull-out about why Pueblo (about two hours south) has the state’s highest per-capita homicide rate. The cover of Steamboat Today on Sunday recreated the American Gothic image for a story about the legacy of Carpenter Ranch (but used a somewhat different photo online. The cover image is here). A hotel and conference center plan will displace a homeless social hub in Greeley, according to The Tribune. A new hospital opening in Grand Junction was on the front page of the Daily Sentinel. Longmont’s “looming debt payment” made the front page of the Times-Call in a story about use of public funds to help bring companies like Whole Foods and Sam’s Club to town. The Pueblo Chieftainfronted a story about a local flood control project along with national coverage of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. High school girls working on a Habitat for Humanity home hit the front page of The Loveland Reporter-Herald along with a story on delegates for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The Durango Herald fronted a test of local government compliance for open records requests. A skier made the cover of Vail Daily. The Fort Collins Coloradoan had a story about unclaimed ashes lingering in county funeral homes.The Boulder Daily Camera had its 125th anniversary, and it looked old school. The Colorado Springs Gazette fronted a story about a local lawmaker defending the financesof his nonprofit and for-profit work.

Listen to Colorado Public Radio, follow these folks on Twitter

If you can believe it, there are still some young reporters who don’t frequently use Twitter. My belief since 2010 (when I joined) has been that those who don’t use it a lot really do so as the detriment to their careers. I’ve gotten reporting assignments, opportunities, and honors that I’m pretty sure wouldn’t have come along if not for being known on the social media platform. Take a Washington Post blog’s annual list of the best state-based political reporters as an example. About six months after I moved to Colorado, I made the list. I’d published a few things by then around here, sure, but I tweeted a whole lot. Was I honored by the mention? Of course! But I have a strong suspicion I might have made the list perhaps more because of my Twitter profile than because of my actual Colorado reporting clips at the time. (And hey, don’t listen to me, listen to Joshua Benton who runs Harvard’s NiemanLab.)

Anyway, all of this is to say Colorado Public Radio this week rounded up a list of reporters and other people and groups you should follow on the social media platform if you want a well-rounded idea of what’s going on in Colorado. Check it out here. And by the way, the author of the item, who did not list himself, is @KareemMaddox. He’s not that frequent a tweeter, but follow him anyway and consider this hashtag: #TweetMoreKareem.

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

My colleague Anna Clark writes about why some political reporters do— or don’t— vote in primary elections around the Great Lakes region. I wrote about how a plan for a statewide print newspaper in North Carolina—yes, in 2016— has some observers there asking: “Is this for real?”

A blog post’s lede got me to read an entire story about an upcoming election I didn’t know about

“It may be the most important Colorado election battle you’ve never heard of.”

Yep, that got its hooks in me. If you follow Colorado political news, it’s hard to read something like it and not immediately think “Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it. What school board race is this one, again?” But actually, this item by Simon Lomax of the libertarian-leaning Complete Colorado is about a fascinating race for a board of regents post at the University of Colorado system that involves an out-of-state billionaire, and national issues like climate change and the fossil fuel divestment movement in higher education.

Notes on the political beat from The Colorado Independent

I went to the Libertarian Party’s state nominating convention in Colorado Springs so you didn’t have to. They don’t caucus or hold a primary. Stories of attempted suicideshadowed an hours-long hearing over whether to ban “pray away the gay” conversion therapy in Colorado. Classic Colorado: A group wants you to pass a ballot measure to amend the state Constitution that would make future ballot measures harder to amend the state Constitution. The architect of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment is headed back to the slammer for violating his parole on tax evasion charges. Colorado’s state ethics commission is a circus. In a divided Capitol, a bill to allow parents parental leave from work for their kids’ school events dies two years in a row. In Douglas County,students are protesting, teachers are quitting, and rage boils.

Accountability reporting: A Bunch about lobbyist influence in Colorado

Denver Post reporter Joey Bunch dug into the Colorado section on lobbying disclosure from the Center for Public Integrity’s recent State Integrity Investigation (disclosure: I wrote and researched the SII report) for an article explaining how opaque the system here can be for the average person trying to understand who influences state government.

From Bunch’s piece:

A major flaw in Colorado’s system is that no one polices the reports that are filed, freeing up lobbyists to report what they wish with little concern about getting caught.

Colorado’s secretary of state cited cost as a reason for not monitoring the reports.

Last thing. Some ‘local newspaper shade’

Just had to note this Tweet from Stephen Elliott, a reporter at the Telluride Daily Planet.

*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: Toronto History via Creative Common on Flickr]