Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he would have been a good journalist

Mike Johnston


Gov. Hickenlooper thinks he would have made a good journalist — but he also thinks journalists are cool, so.

Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, sat for an interview with the Colorado Press Association last week and talked about what he might have done career-wise if he hadn’t gotten into politics. The nut? Maybe he would have been a journalist. A good one! But, the governor also said he thinks journalists are cool, so make of all this what you will.

Behold this passage from the interview:

Well part of what attracted me to being a journalist was I thought it was cool. Back then, when I was a kid in college, I thought I would never have a girlfriend. So being a journalist seemed cool because you got to be a writer, and to a skinny guy with thick glasses and acne, that seemed like a way to make myself more attractive, and plus I’d get to meet really interesting people and deal with important issues. Gil Spencer was my little league baseball coach; he went on to win a couple of Pulitzers at the Trentonian and one at the Daily News and he was just a really exciting, cool guy. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and despite the various ups and downs of my life, I’ve always had a suspicion that I could have been a good journalist.

The Q-and-A with the governor also delves into where Hickenlooper gets most of his news, what he thinks about The Denver Post having a marijuana editor, and his thoughts on access to public records, among other journo-type issues. Oh, and for that skinny guy in college with the thick glasses and acne? It had to feel pretty great when a journalist for his state’s largest newspaper wrote this headline after the state of the state address earlier this year: “Why Colorado’s governor is cooler than your governor.”

Want that dream job as a pot reporter for The Denver Post’s marijuana beat? 

Then you better be able to pass a drug test. Seriously. Here’s a portion of the job listing on JournalismJobs. Interested parties should email a resume, references and writing samples to Cannabist editor Ricardo Baca at

As with every Denver Post position, a qualified candidate must successfully pass a drug test. Apparently that’s just Post policy for all new hires.

Applicants, by the way, don’t have to live in Colorado to apply. They can be from elsewhere as long as it’s a legal cannabis hotbed like Oregon, Washington state, California, Washington, D.C., or certain cities in Canada.

The Colorado Springs Gazette used photos of Denver in a video about a Springs anti-homeless policy

A Colorado Springs resident lashed out at his local newspaper this week for publishing a video on its website about Mayor John Suthers and the mayor’s support for a soon-to-be-enacted city ordinance (it’s called the Pedestrian Access Act) to keep homeless people from lounging around downtown. As the mayor spoke about a “problem in downtown Colorado Springs with people sitting and lying— and in other areas, but primarily downtown Colorado Springs,” a series of still photos appeared on the screen showing homeless-looking people sitting on couches on sidewalks with their belongings strewn about. One problem: it appeared the photos were from other cities, including Denver.

That irked Trig Bundgaard, a local photographer and community activist who opposes the sit-lie ordinance. He called me and said he’d been happy with The Gazette’s coverage of the ordinance and community response up until the video, and felt the paper was being “disingenuous” and feeding into what he considers an over-hyped view by the city about the situation in downtown Colorado Springs. If the “problem” is as bad as the mayor says, why not use photos from downtown Colorado Springs, he wanted to know.

Bundgaard pinged the paper on social media, and eventually got a response from Eric Singer, an anchor and reporter for the newspaper (he’s a former TV guy who does lots of video), who said including the out-of-town photos was a mistake.

Singer wrote in part on Bundgaard’s Facebook page:

The Denver area stills weren’t put in with malicious intent and they are being taken out a.s.a.p. to make sure that when we are talking about COS, the video that is provided, is only, COS. I appreciate all who pointed out the mistake so we could fix it and make it right.

The paper quickly changed the video, switching out the non-local photos for ones from the Springs.

What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado this weekend

It was architecture, fine art, guns, marijuana and more for the broadsheets on the the big news day this week.The Longmont Times-Call had a piece about the city’s architecture and why it’s importantThe Greeley Tribune fronted a big feature headlined, “A Growing Industry,” about industrial hemp as it gains ground in Colorado’s agricultural scene. The Loveland Reporter-Herald ran an AP story about guns and suicide outreach in the WestThe Pueblo Chieftain had a story about local marijuana industry workers decrying an anti-pot ballot measureSteamboat Today ran a feature about fine art in the regionThe Grand Junction Daily Sentinel had a story about a local Republican state senator who wants the Democratic governor to “get (his) rear end up there (and) get it worked out” in regard to a pipeline project. The Colorado Springs Gazette had a piece about schools in the Pikes Peak region pressing their case for better participationThe Fort Collins Coloradoan had a front-page feature called “The Last Drive-in” about what’s next for the Holiday Twin. The Boulder Daily Camera fronted a story about how an unpaid $143 water bill could cost a local woman her home as she tries to test her landlord’s new rules in court. Vail Daily had a skier on the cover for a piece about the annual Pink Vail dayThe Durango Herald had a story about the state GOP attorney general’s role in potential litigation over the Gold King Mine spillThe Denver Post ran a story about parents of kids with disabilities disputing murky costs in disability benefits.

Cough ’em up department: The judge in the Planned Parenthood shooter case will break the seal

Last week saw a big win for the nearly two dozen media organizations that had petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to have the judge presiding over the Planned Parenthood shooting case unseal records related to the shooter’s arrest. Judge Gilbert Martinez in El Paso County plans to unseal documents related to it. But, this comes with a caveat. The high court will first review the documents, and the accused shooter’s public defenders will get the chance to have another hearing over the matter, reports The Colorado Springs Gazette.

Ex-Denver Post editor Greg Moore: ‘The environment for journalists is really shitty’

On his way out the door after 14 years as editor of Colorado’s flagship newspaper, Greg Moore answered some questions via e-mail for Jason Salzman’s BigMedia blog for an exit interview.

An excerpt from the convo:

I think some pretty good political journalists have come out of Colorado and what is unusual is that a number of them were TV journalists. Because we are the state capital, there is some good stuff done here. The investigative work by TV and now bloggers is pretty impressive, honestly. Overall, I think the coverage is good. But in general, the environment for journalists is really shitty. You have to fight for everything. You can’t get a document without a lawsuit or paying exorbitant fees. Even when you win a lawsuit, the next time the situation comes up it’s like a brand new fight. That type of struggle wears you down and gets distracting. And you can lose focus. This is the least corrupt place I have lived in but I don’t buy that it is absent of corruption and malfeasance, misfeasance, whatever. I don’t think reporters here are guilty of cozying up to power because there really is not much access even if you wanted it. That alone should make us all even more aggressive. My charge to fellow journalists would be to ratchet up the pressure.

Sounds like a plan.

Call it Q-and-A week. Here’s another — this time with The Gazette’s new editor

Vince Bzdek started his role as editor of The Colorado Springs Gazette this week, coming back to the town where he went to college and edited the campus newspaper. He’s back in his native state after nearly 20 years as a writer and editor of The Washington Post. The Gazette ran a Q-and-A with him on the day he started his new job. One thing he wants to do is make sure readers know The Gazette’s opinion page and news side are separate (something in recent past that hasn’t seemed like the highest priority for the paper.)

Here’s the new editor speaking to that:

Media outlets who believe in journalistic standards need to explain themselves to their audience, that there is a wall between opinion journalism and fact-based reporting in their newsrooms as thick as the wall separating church and state. The best news sites probably need to re-educate their audiences about the principles that set them apart. We will definitely be doing that at The Gazette.

Good to hear!

Democracy Fund releases a systems map about local news & participation

Last year I attended a workshop at the National Press Club in Washington, DC that was put on by The Democracy Fund, a major supporter of the United States Project at CJR. There, journalists, academics, advocates, funders, and others worked in groups to create feedback loops, or mini-narratives about the local media ecosystem in the United States to help create a systems map that, in the words of DF’s Tom Glaiyser, “reveals the many dimensions of local journalism’s disruption.”

Now, The Democracy Fund has released that map for public consumption.

More from Glaiyser’s blog post about the map and what it shows: The result is not a picture of the optimal local news environment that we might want, or the debatably better environment we might have once had. Instead, it’s a multi-dimensional model of the intersecting forces that shape the markets, missions, and practices of outlets seeking to provide coverage that can help to drive democratic decision making by both audiences and policymakers around the country.

You can play with his map here, and I recommend it as a tool to better understand the role of local news and public engagement in our democracy.

Last thing. Line of the week.

I don’t know what it was exactly, but this was my favorite line in a newspaper story this week. The whole piece is good if you’ve been following the big U.S. Senate race here. Reporter John Frank had noticed a national consultant who might have been doing some talent scouting at a recent candidate forum. Anyway, it was the penultimate graf that got me: “Outside the sports bar, under a dim streetlight on a dark street, he barely slowed as a Denver Post reporter who recognized him approached. Asked which campaign he is working for, O’Donnell demurred, saying ‘no one yet.'”

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[Photo credit: Mike Johnston via Creative Commons on Flickr]