The Durango Herald cuts its print run down to four days per week

Citing the great digital disruption and more readers getting their news online, the regional Durango Herald newspaper is cutting its print run down to four days a week starting next month.

From The Herald, reporting on itself:

“This change is in line with what’s happened with newspapers around the country in the last decade,” said Interim Senior Editor Sue McMillin. “It is costly to produce a printed paper every day, and fewer and fewer readers are buying papers. They read online, and so that’s where we need to focus our news-gathering resources.”

The decision also seems informed by reader focus groups the paper conducted in which many readers said they saved sections of the paper to read when they have more time. The Herald will publish Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a Saturday weekend edition. The corporate-speak was strong in the story’s kicker, too. “These changes will provide a sustainable financial future for The Durango Herald to continue to inform our readers with content that is compelling and engaging,” Ballantine Communications CEO Doug Bennett is quoted at the end of the piece saying: “The owners, managers and staff of the Herald are committed to this mission.”

Meanwhile, the feds say it’s OK for people in Durango to watch Colorado news on TV

For the past year in this newsletter I’ve chronicled the saga of La Plata County, an “orphan county” whose residents want to watch news from Denver TV stations on their TVs. But currently, Durango-area homes are beamed in TV news from Albuquerque, New Mexico— and Albuquerque wants to keep it that way. So La Plata County had to ask the Federal Communications Commission for permission to allow Denver TV signals into homes in Colorado. In doing so it became the first county in the nation to make such a request from the feds.

This week, the FCC agreed to allow Denver to beam TV news into La Plata County.

From The Durango Herald:

Wednesday’s announcement is another step in a 10-year effort to give La Plata County residents access to Colorado news, weather and sports on television. The two satellite providers serving the county are now authorized to partner with ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Denver. “The FCC’s decision is a huge victory for residents of La Plata County who want to receive television broadcasts relevant to our community,” Commissioner Julie Westendorff said in a news release. “We are thrilled to no longer be an ‘orphan county’ with respect to our television market.”

Durango-area residents could get news from their own state by this summer. All of this is now in the hands of satellite providers and TV networks. Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation in both parties worked to make this a reality. The result came from a “bipartisan, locally driven effort, and it’s welcome news for many people in Colorado who have waited too long for access to the Denver broadcast market,” said Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

Take a bow: Denver’s USA Today correspondent got his drone license

Last week it was a TV station using its news drone for the first time. This week? USA Today’s Denver correspondent Trevor Hughes got certified as a drone pilot. The studying and practice took a week. Hope he ends up better than these drone pilots at Fort Carson. Unless he crashes one in my yard. In which case he won’t get it back.

In 2017, the new newspaper wars are way less exciting on Twitter

Will Denver Really Have a Newspaper War? I wrote that headline for CJR’s United States Project in 2014 after Phil Anschutz who owns The Gazette in Colorado Springs floated the idea of reviving The Rocky Mountain News. (He wanted to buy The Denver Post.) Three years later, the Rocky is not in the ring. Although The Gazette did hire away some talent from the Post, and did start a statewide politics blog.

But if that’s your idea of a newspaper war, well, consider this March 3 apology from The Gazette’s official Twitter account:

On March 1, we referred to giving up the @denverpost for lent. It was intended as playful, but should not have been done. We apologize.

Sheesh. Hashtag #NoJokes. Call it the new trench warfare. We’re all in the same trench.

What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado

The Longmont Times-Call reported on students visiting Rocky Mountain National park. The Greeley Tribune fronted a piece on Weld County’s “hidden” homeless population. The Longmont Times-Call covered a firefighter getting a Purple Heart. The Pueblo Chieftain reported on a local panel about opioid addiction. The Steamboat Pilot & Today had local moose on its cover. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported how Mesa County has only one doctor who caters to the elderly. The Boulder Daily Camera covered a town where the only doctor lost his Medicaid validation, leaving more than 1,000 with few easy options. The Coloradoan in Fort Collins fronted a big feature about how parole changes put children at risk of abuse. The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported on a lawsuit against a for-profit healthcare provider in a jail death. Snowboarder Shaun White was on the front page of Vail Daily. The Durango Herald reported on a local teacher shortage. The Denver Post reported on relaxed rules for sex offenders who are parents.

A University of Colorado Denver professor on students and ‘fake news’

“As President Donald Trump confuses matters further by labeling entire media organizations like the New York Times and CNN ‘fake news,’ questions are being raised about what schools are doing to teach students about being responsible consumers – and creators – of information.” So begins a piece in this week’s edition of Denver’s alt-weekly Westword. The story, by Chris Walker, is about a CU Denver professor, Scott McLeod, who is concerned about media literacy in middle and high schools.

From the piece:

As for politics, so intricately tied to the “fake news” conversation today, McLeod notes that many educators are hesitant to bring it up for fear of retribution from administrators and parents. Still, he says, “I think the election brought this to the forefront. At least people are talking about it. But it’s going to be up to each school and each district to decide: Do we care?”

McLeod told Westword that most school administrators in Colorado aren’t the ones leading the charge for information literacy. Instead, he said, “it’s being driven by these national associations like the American Association of School Librarians and National Council for the Social Studies saying, ‘This is really important.'”

Let’s play reporter PunchOut!

Remember Mike Tyson’s PunchOut! for Nintendo? A classic blast from the past. Well, this weekend The Denver Post revived another punchout classic in a story that cut the sandbags loose from former Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar’s gubernatorial trial balloon. The piece about Salazar potentially running for governor came with this eye-popping line about a 2012 incident when he was serving as Barack Obama’s secretary of interior.

While at Interior, Salazar also got in trouble for threatening to “punch out” a reporter; he later apologized to the journalist from The Gazette in Colorado Springs.

Here’s more detail on that backstory: Then-Gazette reporter Dave Philipps had written a story for ProPublica about a Colorado livestock hauler who supports horse slaughter and bought 1,700 protected wild horses from the federal Bureau of Land Management, which is overseen by the Department of the Interior. The piece questioned whether the horses might be slaughtered. (SPOILER: Three years later a federal report found they were.) Anyway, the horse guy at the center of the story told Philipps about the Salazar family, “When my dad was alive we farmed their land…I like them. I do business with them. I do quite a bit of trucking for Ken.” But Salazar wasn’t responding to Philipps’ interview requests. So the reporter caught up with him in person at an event when Salazar was campaigning for Obama. He started off soft-balling Salazar and then got to the horse questions. Salazar didn’t appreciate it. He told the reporter he felt set up. He said he was there for the Obama event and not there to talk about public policy issues.

“You know what, you do that to me again and I’ll punch you out,” Salazar told Philipps. “Don’t ever, ever— from The Gazette or anybody else— do that to me again.” (Here’s a recording.)

The Gazette initially “held the audio, hoping that Salazar would agree to a substantive interview concerning the wild horse program,” the paper reported. But he didn’t, issuing only a short statement. Meanwhile, someone from a wild horse advocacy group who witnessed the exchange publicized what happened. Philipps declined to comment to POLITICO when it broke the news, and then The Gazette released the audio. Salazar apologized. CJR covered the story at the time here.

A ‘pretty unusual’ response to a newspaper’s open records request in Weld County

A Weld County commissioner is taking heat after The Greeley Tribune requested and published contents of an investigative report into his conduct with employees. “The Tribune obtained the report after Weld District Court Judge Todd Taylor ruled it was a public document following a Tribune open records request,” the paper reported.

More from the Tribune’s Tyler Silvy:

Under Colorado law, investigative reports into sexual harassment cannot be released, and county officials cited a subsection of sexual harassment — whether Conway’s actions created a hostile work environment — as potential grounds for withholding the report. County attorney Bruce Barker filed a petition with the court asking the judge to make the final determination.

The report found county employees “during the past few years have been subjected to yelling, cursing and intimidation at the hands of Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway,” the Tribune reported, and now some of his commissioner colleagues are asking him to step down.

Interestingly, though, this did not appear to go down the typical way a Colorado Open Records ACT (CORA) dispute plays out between a newspaper and a government body. “You don’t often see a government entity going to court when it is unable to determine if disclosure of a public record is prohibited under CORA,” said Jeff Roberts, director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, when I reached out to him about it. “More typically, the newspaper battles the government to release the record.”

A homeless newspaper publisher was found dead in Colorado Springs

Raven Canon, who in January founded The Springs Echo, the first Colorado Springs newspaper run by and for the homeless, died this week. As is done elsewhere with similar papers, area homeless distribute the Springs Echo for donations, and help produce it.

From CJR

“This is a stunning tragedy for me and anybody else who knew her, because there’s no reason for her to be dead,” Trig Bundgaard, a member of a local organization dedicated to ending homelessness, tells CJR. …

“The paper wouldn’t have existed without all of her blood, sweat, and tears,” Bundgaard says. “I saw her on days that she was doing meetings with prospective advertisers, and you would never know seeing her strut down the street to her meetings that she was homeless. Somehow she always had the ability to find a shower, get her face did, and look like every other professional.”

“The future of her newspaper remained unclear Monday,” The Gazette reported, citing Carrie Baatz of The Independence Center expressing hope that it would carry on with a new publisher.

Now for some news you should read from around the state

I thought 9News was smart cutting through the noise with data on our congressional delegation and how many town halls each of them have held. The Colorado Independent nabbed a scoop that several Coloradans have chosen to use the new aid-in-dying law. Denverite wrote about a potential liberal “awakening” under Trump. The Denver Post dug into how those charities on your state tax form “used political clout” and “little state oversight” to earn that coveted spot. How does a newspaper report on a “torrent of leaks” pouring anonymously from law enforcement in El Paso County? Ask The Gazette. The Colorado Springs Independent ran a big Q-and-A with Mayor John Suthers. Westword’s Alan Prendergast exposed how many inmates in Colorado have ICE detainers on them but still remain in state prisons— and whether maybe there’s a financial incentive to keep it that way.

*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 by Kevin Doncaster via Creative Commons on Flickr.