You might recall Denver’s KUSA TV anchor Kyle Clark from this weekly media roundup as an expert on Colorado politics, garbage receptacles, dogs in hot cars and snowy patio furniture. Now, starting Aug. 5, Clark will host his own nightly news program on 9News called “Next with Kyle Clark.” OK, so a news anchor gets a new gig, so what? I think we should watch this space. I don’t know Clark personally, but I’ve followed his work and he strikes me as someone who cares about and thinks about local news and the industry in a meaningful way.
“Next is a real conversation. People want us to be totally honest about what’s happening, even if it stings a little,” Clark said in a piece for 9News about the new show. “It is about transparency. If someone has a question— I’ll answer it. I’ll try to do it on-air— in front of everyone.” So… totally honest news. Well, that sounds like a plan. But it also sounds like the station has realized the value of Clark’s own perspectives as a Colorado newsman and is finding a better way to showcase it. Clark gave a couple interviews to local outlets Westword and Denverite
We are at a point where we can move past our traditional concept of competition. I would rather someone watch a competitor than not watch or read any news. Our competition these days is anything people can be doing with their valuable time other than consuming great journalism.
I agree, and I think those who don’t are being short sighted. You’ll find some from time to time who only share their own work on social media or link to their own publications in stories. On his new show, Clark says he plans to showcase the best of local journalism he finds from other outlets— and that will be nice to see. Another good quote from him came when describing what he hopes to get beyond with his show: “If you look at some of the most successful programming out there in recent years, it has been a caricature of local news. That should cause us to re-examine what we’re doing.” (Somewhere a cop siren wails and a reporter quickly grabs the keys to the news van.)
Boulder Daily Camera reporter: “Well shit.”
That tweet from reporter Karen Antonacci just about about sums it up. Her reaction on social media came when she realized three Alabama campers she’d interviewed the previous day as witnesses near the site of the raging Cold Springs wildfire had been arrested for allegedly starting it. Well shit indeed. Turns out the reporter was soliciting witness reports in the area for stories and found the three hitchhiking nearby. So many times, journalism is a case of right place right time.
The Independence Institute won a public records court fight this week
Todd Shepherd, a writer for the libertarian Independence Institute think tank, won an open records battle against Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health care exchange. Shepherd was seeking e-mails from staff of the exchange during certain hours on a specific day. But the public entity blocked his request, characterizing his inquiry as burdensome, over broad, and a fishing expedition. So last year, Shepherd filed a lawsuit.
“District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs granted a motion for summary judgement filed by the Independence Institute, a Denver-based free-market think tank,” reports Jeff Roberts of The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
More from Roberts:
The motion argued that Connect for Health Colorado’s internal policy, which requires records requesters to identify a particular subject matter, allowed the agency “to deny records otherwise discoverable under” the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).
Colorado earned an ‘F’ grade for its public access to information in the latest State Integrity Investigation, which I worked on.
A college trustee in Colorado is facing censure for writing letters to the editor of local newspapers
Letters to the editor in local newspapers used to be a really big deal, especially for public officials to take the temperature of their local communities. Then they started to become a vehicle for PR firms and politicians. (Barton Swaim actually has a pretty hilarious part of his book, “The Speechwriter,” dedicated to this). Now LTEs have basically become Twitter rants for the printed page. But one trustee of Colorado Mountain College is facing censure—”a formal expression of disapproval that carries no further penalty” — from her colleagues because of letters she has been writing to some area newspapers. Newspapers. A good vehicle for controversy.
A freelancer for The Colorado Statesman says the paper should disclose its ties to Larry Mizel
Last week I highlighted billionaire and millionaire newspaper owners in Colorado and some recent scrutiny they had gotten. This week, David O. Williams penned a blog post for his RealVail website about his experience as a journalist in Colorado over the past three decades. In it, he addresses working for wealthy Colorado news publishers over the years and chronicles different Colorado news organizations and how they did or didn’t disclose their funders. What’s interesting is that Williams is a freelancer for The Colorado Statesman, and in his blog post he calls on The Statesman to explain its financial relationship with GOP donor and Donald Trump fundraiser Larry Mizel.
From his piece, titled “Trump, Mizel and Cacioppo: Does it really matter who owns a political newspaper?”:
And if you’re scratching the checks for a publication these days, why not just put your name on it and end the mystery, even if your agenda really is just about getting one person or a group of like-minded people elected to political office? Then let your readers judge whether your reporting is biased based on your agenda or fairly reflects the views of the opposition.
“I don’t understand anonymity when it comes to ownership or funding of agenda-driven publications,” he continued. “Proclaim it loudly and proudly, and let the readers be the judges of your content.”
For what it’s worth, Williams tells me he corresponded with The Colorado Statesman’s publisher, Jared Wright, after his blog post went up, and he says he’ll continue to write for the paper. He said Wright did not address his critique. I e-mailed Wright a few times, too, but haven’t heard back.
What you missed in two week’s worth of front pages across Colorado
Did you lose your wallet and phone while fly fishing in the Arkansas River and put your life on hold for a day while you pieced everything back together, therefore neglecting to read all the news fit for the Sunday front pages in Colorado? I’ve got you covered— two weeks in a row.
July 17: The Denver Post had a big piece headlined “The surprising peaks and valleys of Colorado income inequality.” The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel fronted a story about security issues at area schools. The Longmont Times-Call had a piece about local schools being left out from marijuana tax revenue. The Greeley Tribune ran a feature about how the sugar beet industry helped launch the area’s agricultural identity. The Loveland Reporter-Herald put a piece about affordable housing development on A1. The Fort Collins Coloradoan had a cover story about slow growth in a city transit corridor. Steamboat Today showcased a story about the highest peak in Routt County. The Boulder Daily Camera ran a piece about unlicensed co-ops awaiting new laws. The Durango Herald reported a slowing economy in La Plata County. Vail Daily fronted the winner of a local Xterra event. The Gazette had a story about a potential public market in Colorado Springs.
July 10: A wild fire consumed coverage on the front page of The Longmont Times-Call. The Greeley Tribune fronted a story about an incoming UNC professor who left a previous job amid a sexual harassment investigation. The Pueblo Chieftain had a piece on the state GOP’s unity tour. The Steamboat Pilot & Today Sunday had a story about a dance piece. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel fronted a piece headlined “Building up Downtown.” The Boulder Daily Camera had coverage of the Cold Springs Wildfire. The Aspen Times led with a story about summer being peak season for the local animal shelter. Headlined “No Clear Solution,” a Sunday story in The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports on transient concerns hitting a fever pitch in the town. The Colorado Springs Gazette had a story about transparency issues surrounding a major downtown project. Vail Daily reported parking is a concern among locals. The Denver Post ran a big feature on a Denver medical center that uniquely addresses eating disorders. The Durango Herald reported on legislation inching forward to address the Gold King Mine spill.
Oh, to be 1994 again…
I started reading this book about the 1994 Colorado governor’s race a while ago because it had some great info about Bruce Benson, the Republican that year who used the petition process to get on the statewide primary ballot. I was looking for some history about that process given the spectacular petition snafu that engulfed this year’s GOP U.S. Senate primary. The book is called The Flawed Path to the Governorship 1994 and is written by Colorado College political science professor emeritus Bob Loevy. I’ve almost finished it, and I just had to share this passage I read the other day, which shows just how much political reporting has changed over the last 22 years.
From page 322:
What is happening in Colorado, as elsewhere in the United States, is that the Colorado political press corps has become so aggressive it is replacing the candidates as the principle sources of negative information about their opponents. Instead of hurtling charges themselves, and taking responsibility for those charges, political candidates often find it much easier to let an overly aggressive press do much of their “dirty work” for them. The end result is to reduce the importance of the candidates in the election process and greatly enhance the importance of the news media. All of a sudden, what the news media is doing in a Colorado election is much more important than what the candidates are doing.
Well, things have drastically changed since then. The bottom fell out of the newspaper business model. Revenues for the news industry are bleak. Reporters everywhere, including Colorado, are taking buyouts or being laid off. And what has this meant for political coverage of modern statewide elections? As I wrote for CJR in 2014, when some of the state’s best political reporters convened for a panel following the midterms to talk about what they learned, a theme emerged: The candidates controlled the message and most of what reporters did was react. Meanwhile, that line in the mid-’90s book about reporters providing opposition research for campaigns? Totally out the window in 2016 — it’s now clearly the other way around.
Last thing. What my gun permit does for me. (SPOILER: It gets me out of traffic tickets)
Philando Castile, a black man in Minnesota who was shot and killed last week by a 28-year-old police officer named Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop, was about my age. We might have had plenty in common, or not much at all. But when details of his killing emerged, I learned of one potential similarity between us that also set us a world apart: Like Castile, I have a permit to carry a gun. I, too, have been pulled over by police. The difference is that Castile was black and I’m not. When he got pulled over with his gun permit, he was shot and killed. When I’m pulled over and show my permit, it gets me out of traffic fines.
The answer to why I’ve gotten out of traffic tickets since I got a concealed weapons permit in South Carolina in 2009 is an anecdote I used to tell at parties. This week I wrote about it for The Colorado Independent. A few South Carolina news outlets re-printed the essay, and I gave an interview about it to Colorado Public Radio, which also interviewed a local police chief, and aired on Monday. I’ve heard since from others about similar — and totally different— experiences. If you have any I’d love to hear yours, too.
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