Reporter in Colorado ‘very concerned’ about partisan media


Speaking on a media panel in The Denver Post’s auditorium last week, Post political reporter John Frank questioned whether there is a market for non-partisan or non-ideologically oriented news on TV. He thinks there might not be.

“These days when you look at Pew’s studies, people are more polarized than ever in their political news sources, and the segregation of … where they get their news is only going to, I fear, grow going forward,” he said.

Frank also spotlighted a particular issue at the state level in Colorado.

The Colorado Statesman is run by a former Republican lawmaker, The Colorado Springs Gazette started a great new political experiment I’m super excited about but their lead writer on their new political vertical is a former Republican staffer,” he said. “I am very concerned about us moving toward that partisan side of news but I think there’s a reason we’re moving in that direction— it’s because I think that’s where the money is.”

On the same panel, which was moderated by progressive consultant and blogger Jason Salzman and conservative activist Laura Carno, Frank explained how he sees his paper fitting into Colorado’s media landscape.

“These days,” he said, “I start to think of The Denver Post more as The New York Times of Colorado. We are the folks that will come in, do the definitive end-all-be-all story that breaks new ground for what the local media is doing and also puts it in a smart way that helps you understand the race better than the turn-of-the-screw coverage that you see at the community level.”

Also on the panel was Greg Moore who stepped down in the spring after leading The Denver Post for 14 years as editor and now teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He said he saw far too much partisan commentary in traditional media this year.

“Especially on CNN, which just drove me crazy— I had to finally just turn that off,” he said. “I just think it’s embarrassing for a news organization like CNN to put a former campaign manager for a candidate on their show and dress that up as sort of news and valuable information. I just thought that was shameful.”

Once briefly a candidate for public editor of The New York Times before he withdrew, Moore also said he took issue with the tone of some columnists at the Times.

“I thought they were way overboard, and I’ve said that to people at The New York Times,” he said. “I think the media should be involved with trying to promote civility in our debate … I think they probably over-covered Trump and just the tone of it, it almost seemed like it was a war.”

Denver7 TV reporter Marshall Zelinger, another panel member, explained his feelings about certain political ads.

“When I call something, or when Alan Gathright, our PolitFact checker, calls something ‘Pants on Fire,’ I have a real problem when we say that on our website or do it on TV and the next commercial break you see that ad,” he said.

The local Fort Collins newspaper has an embed in the Mideast crisis

If you e-mail Jason Pohl, a breaking news reporter for The Coloradoan in Fort Collins, you’ll get an auto reply you might not expect from someone at your local Gannett-owned daily newspaper. The message will say Pohl is out of the office. Why? Oh, he’s just “embedded with a refugee relief organization doing rescues off the coast of Libya.” Pohl won’t be e-mailing or checking social media, he says, because he’s on a ship “documenting the deadliest year on record for men, women and children trying to flee their home countries.”

But Pohl is filing stories from the Mediterranean. His first dispatch details how he ended up as a local Colorado reporter embedded in the Mideast crisis. Bottom line: He kept in touch with a source for a previous story about the possibility, and that source later came through.

From the story:

A quick email, a few planning meetings and a handful of conference calls with USA TODAY editors later, my Microsoft Outlook calendar populated with plane ticket confirmation numbers and words this Colorado-based reporter still can’t quite believe. Denver to Malta. Depart Nov. 11. Return Nov. 27.

Follow Pohl’s reporting here.

A Colorado College professor has studied the films of top Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon

Donald Trump’s choice for top White House strategist has been a controversy magnet for obvious reasons. Adding to the write-ups about Stephen K. Bannon is a recent essay in Jump Cut you might have missed, published by Scott Krzych, a film and media studies professor at Colorado College. Krzych focuses on the use of stock imagery in conservative political documentaries produced by the group Citizens United. Bannon directed a few of the documentaries Krzych examined in his essay “Beyond bias: stock imagery and paradigmatic politics in Citizens United documentaries.”

I reached out to Krzych to see if there was anything particularly noteworthy he learned about Bannon in reviewing his films in light of his appointment as a future White House advisor.

It may be worth noting, Krzych said, that the participants in Bannon’s documentaries are basically the standard-bearers of the conservative punditry class. “So, despite the emphasis on Bannon’s association with the alt-right, these films show him to be plugged into the more established, Fox News, talk-radio, circuit of commentators (Newt Gingrich, Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michele Bachman, etc.),” he told me via e-mail.


What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado

The Greeley Tribune ran a piece about how an FDA rule will affect producers in the areaThe Loveland Reporter-Herald had a story about officials narrowing their search for an economic development directorThe Longmont Times-Call reported on changes in a health insurance plan for localsThe Pueblo Chieftain reported how voters told pollsters one thing about a local tax initiative but voted differently. With “Keeping the Keys,” The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel fronted a feature about families with elderly relatives who might be getting too old to drive. The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported on El Paso County as the teen suicide capital of the stateThe Fort Collins Coloradoan said goodbye to Hughes StadiumThe Boulder Daily Camera localized the impact of Donald Trump’s abortion rhetoricVail Daily reported on local officials looking at U.S. Forest Service land for possible housingThe Durango Herald looked into the election returns of the 32 subdistricts of La Plata County and found a political divide. Under the headline “Anxious America,” The Denver Post fronted a story about fears of Trump’s angry words becoming actions by his supporters and the local law enforcement response.

Didn’t get the memo…

This week in the making of moldy news: A mainstream news broadcaster in Denver tweets about a guilty plea of a signature gatherer accused of sending in fraudulent signatures for a U.S. Senate campaign. A blog picks it up and wonders whatever happened to that U.S. Senate candidate, Jon Keyser, anyway? ColoradoPolitics, The Gazette’s new politics site, attempts to answer the question, saying it “wasn’t clear what was next for Keyser” since the campaign, but it looked like he moved to Wisconsin because that’s what his LinkedIn profile indicates. Progressives on Colorado Twitter treat it as new ground. But someone literally didn’t “get the memo.” The Denver Post’s John Frank must have been shaking his head. Frank reported in a September Purple State Memo how Keyser took a job as a corporate lawyer for Harley Davidson in Wisconsin— an item that included a statement from Keyser about the move. There might be some interesting inside baseball reporting that could be done on Keyser-not-so-Permenente, his relationship with the state’s GOP establishment and what it says about the Republican bench. A journalist source texts: “Moldy news can be made to be fresh if there’s something there.”


For the personnel file…

“Cheryl Preheim, an anchor at KUSA-9News, is leaving the NBC affiliate for a post in Atlanta after 18 years at the Denver TV station,” reports The Denver Business Journal. “Longtime Aurora journalist, community activist and firebrand Lois Brady Martin died unexpectedly Nov. 20, 2016 in Douglas County. She was 88,” reports The Aurora Sentinel. Political reporter Peter Marcus, formerly of The Durango Herald, began his new job at The Gazette Tuesday with a piece about how Colorado is not racist, it’s just confused.

What Trump could and could not do to restrict press freedom in America

Before the election, my colleague Jonathan Peters, the press freedom correspondent for Columbia Journalism Review who is also an attorney and media law professor, did us all a favor and pointed out what a president Donald Trump could and couldn’t do when it comes to restricting the practice of journalism. Now that Trump is the president-elect, this piece is worth a re-up. And also, because Trump is now the president-elect, the piece comes with a doozie of an editor’s note.

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