Is The Gazette making a run at The Denver Post?

Allen Tian


It was a one-two punch to Denver news audiences who have watched business reporter Gregg Moss on 9News or read longtime sports columnist Woody Paige in The Denver Post. Both are leaving.

“The loss is a significant one for 9News, and for the outlet’s viewers,” wrote Michael Roberts for the alt-weekly Westword. “Moss is an extremely likable personality, as well as a solid reporter — a rare combination. He’ll be missed.” Moss is leaving to do work for a local church. It’s not the first time he’s left, he said in a memo to staff, “But this one feels like the last.”

As for Paige, who is also a regular on ESPN’s “Around the Horn” show, he’s leaving The Denver Post after 35 years and heading to — wait for it— The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs. That’s quite a coup for the Phil Anschutz-owned Clarity Media newspaper, which I know is also looking to beef up its political news staff to make a play for a broader statewide audience.

This is from Westword about Paige’s departure, which follows buyouts and layoffs at The Post:

The buyout shortfall appears to have impacted Paige, too … he learned that “the contract offer changed…in a negative direction.” Money was a factor; Paige says the amount pledged was “significantly lower — two times lower.” Moreover, there were cuts in the frequency with which his column would appear and “there was no assurance that I would write on Sunday — and that was really important to me.” In addition, “the Post had cut its travel budget, and I was told I wouldn’t be covering the Broncos on the road. I’d always covered their away games, but I wouldn’t be able to anymore. So that was disturbing.”

I’ve written recently about the latest buyouts and layoffs at Colorado’s flagship newspaper, about how shrinking staff now means fewer in-house editorials, and about new byline-count policies for reporters, and how its own journalists have staged protests outside the building against the newspaper’s hedge-fund owner.

So, I’m beginning to wonder if what’s happening in Colorado could mirror what’s been happening in South Carolina, a state where I previously lived and worked. In recent years, the family-owned Charleston Post & Courier has overtaken the corporate chain newspaper in that state’s capital, The State, which is a McClatchy property that’s been decimated by cost-slashing cutbacks. In the face of those corporate cuts, the coastal family-owned P&C has beefed up its staffing, collaborated with national reporting outlets on important projects, upped its web game substantially, implementing podcasts, and won a Pulitzer in the process. In fact, as I recently wrote, the paper just gobbled up the independent alt-weekly in the capital, too.The Denver Post has great reporters and still produces some of the most important journalism in Colorado. But there’s no denying a newspaper needs a healthy financial support structure to keep that going. Two years ago I asked if Denver might really have a newspaper war. What if it just ends up being a war of attrition?

PULP: How media got one transgender story in Colorado wrong

“Doe Schall and Park Long — two Colorado Springs high school students — were among the first to lead the fight for transgender bathrooms,” writes Sara Knuth for Pueblo’s Pulp magazine this week. “But their story ended up being much different than they imagined.”

The Knuth piece runs down a story about two Colorado Springs high school students and their successful effort to create a gender-inclusive restroom in their school.

From the July 25 story:In the eyes of the local media, Schall and Long’s story was too good to pass up. If we’re being cynical, the story was a goldmine for TV stations and newspapers looking for viewers and readers. And if we’re being idealistic, the story was a chance to localize an issue that has consumed so much of the public’s attention lately.

But the subjects of the story felt media were missing the point, Knuth writes. The two students wished there had been a broader focus on issues facing the LGBT community instead of a narrow one involving, well, bathrooms.

Lawyers for the Planned Parenthood shooter are trying to stop media from interviewing their client

Admitted Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear isn’t competent enough to understand the implications of reaching out to media— and news outlets shouldn’t enable him just to get traffic. That’s essentially the argument by Dear’s attorneys in a legal motion aimed at halting members of the press from being able to interview their client while he’s in the state mental hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, after a judge ruled him incompetent to stand trial. The motion would direct the state hospital to prohibit Dear from “communicating with the news media.” And, interestingly, the attorneys lean on ethical guidelines set by the Society of Professional Journalists in their arguments.

From the July 22 motion filed by public defenders Daniel King, Rosalie Roy, and Kristen M. Nelson:

The concern that Mr. Dear’s communication with journalists will undermine his right to a fair trial is especially pronounced given that this high-profile case has received a significant amount of media attention. Moreover, some journalists have demonstrated a willingness to publish and broadcast statements made by Mr. Dear despite his obvious mental illness, and regardless of ethical codes that require journalists to “balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed,” and to “[s]how good taste” and “[a]void pandering to lurid curiosity.”

“Some of these communications were initiated by Dear himself,” the motion reads. “Others were unfortunately initiated by members of the news media, who appeared determined to exploit this mentally ill man and cause those impacted by this tragedy more grief for the sake of generating headlines. The content of several of these conversations has been published and/or broadcast widely.”

You can read the full motion here.

The motion actually cites a previous version of the SPJ’s code of ethics, SPJ Ethics Chair Andrew Seaman told me when I reached out to him about this. The code was updated in 2014. About the content of the motion, Seaman said: “I think journalists really need to think before publishing interviews with people who may not be able to give proper consent. The information from the interview may be completely irrelevant and inaccurate. If that’s the case, the journalists may create unnecessary harm to all involved parties, including the victims’ families. Of course, journalists need to confront this on a case-by-case basis.”

Fred Brown, former editor of The Denver Post and an SPJ ethics committee member, told me he thinks Colorado media shouldn’t ignore Dear, “but at some point you don’t want to pay attention to everything he sends out.” Journalism ethics, he says— and sorry, I just have to point out that his e-mail address is EthicalFred—  “is just a matter of talking these things through until you satisfy yourself that you can explain your decision to other people in a way that makes sense.”

The Gazette newspaper recently reported it had “declined to respond to a letter Dear sent in June from the psychiatric hospital, inviting a reporter to visit.”

ATTN journalists: Fellowship applications are open for the Media Law School on the East Coast

A lot of you who get this weekly newsletter are journalists in Colorado (if you aren’t one, feel free to start scrolling!) so I wanted to let you know about a four-day, no-cost program I attended last year that’s accepting new fellows. Called the Media Law School, it’s a journalist boot camp at the University of South Carolina where lawyers and law professors help reporters who cover the legal profession better understand how to do it— without having to go to law school. They’ll take about 25 applicants this year, pay a $400 travel stipend, and cover food and lodging. Last year I wrote for CJR’s United States Project about how programs like these can be ways to develop newsroom expertise at a time of shrinking staff and maxed-out newsroom budgets, but can also come with some conflicts depending on how they’re structured. Here’s a tentative program for the Media Law School, and a link for how to apply. It takes place Sept. 21-24. Applications are due by Aug. 15.

What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado

Memories of a major flood around this time in 1976 dominated the front pages of multiple Colorado newspapers Sunday, but there was some other news on them, too. Here’s your roundup:

The Greeley Tribune collected local memories of a major 40-year-old flood. The Loveland Reporter-Herald reported on potential fixes to congestion on I-25. The Longmont Times-Call fronted a story about a local nonprofit in need of funds to keep homeless shelters open. The Pueblo Chieftain had a story about farmers asking for a moratorium on area commercial development. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported on the local impact of a merger between two health insurers. Steamboat Pilot & Today had a cover story about the business of summer tourism at ski mountains. The Gazette ran a story aboutU.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn opening up about domestic violence in his childhood home. The Fort Collins Coloradoan remembered the Big Thompson Flood of 1976. The Boulder Daily Camera ran a piece on local businesses on University Hill nearing a “boiling point” with “transients.” The Durango Herald reported on spikes in DUI arrests in La Plata County with the headline “Drinking and driving? Chances are, you’ll get caught.” The Denver Post fronted a piece about transit gaps in Denver’s light rail system.

A 9News reporter got Donald Trump on record about local fracking bans

Brandon Rittiman of KUSA Denver scored a sit-down with Donald Trump this week when the candidate was in the state for a pair of public speaking events, and he elicited an interesting answer from the pro-fracking presidential contender. Asked what Trump thought about municipalities banning fracking, which the Colorado Supreme Court has decided they don’t have the authority to do, Trump said “I think voters should have a big say in it, I mean there’s some areas maybe they don’t want to have fracking and I think if the voters are voting for it that’s up to them.” Asked if municipalities should be able to ban fracking, Trump said, “It could very well be … if a municipality or a state wants to ban fracking I can understand that.” It seems like his remarks got the oil-and-gas industry’s attention in Colorado.

Watch or read the entire interview here.

The most important Colorado race you’ve never heard of— explained

Some are calling a race for an at-large board of regents’ seat this year in Colorado “the most important race you’ve never heard of.” I heard that twice and looked into if for an explainer piece at The Colorado Independent this week. Some interesting things emerged, like what climate change has to do with an obscure race for a position on a higher ed panel. The two women running have compelling backgrounds. One helped flip Colorado’s legislature blue, the other founded the national chain of Camp Bow Wow doggy day cares. If the Democrat wins, the balance of power could shift on the board for the first time since 1979. Read more about this down-ballot race here.

PRI’s The World can be divisive on public radio in Colorado, who knew?

OK, so just reading the first few comments on any story isn’t the best way to understand reader consensus. (Reading comments in general is just bad for your health.) But I was struck at how the first early ones on an item from Colorado Public Radio about recent programming changes lamented the loss of PRI’s The World. Maybe that’s because of the irony of what happened at KRCC in Colorado Springs. There was a near uprising by some local Springs fans of Democracy Now! when KRCC decided to replace it with, well, The World. Public radio listeners, man.

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