The iconic, curved cruise-ship-looking white and green-tinted glass Denver Post headquarters in downtown Denver near the Capitol will move its newsroom and advertising departments to the paper’s printing plant— in Adams County. The news came first to staff in a memo from Denver Post president and CEO Mac Tully last week. He sent it in response to testimony in a lawsuit between the paper and three of its former advertising managers.
From the memo:
In the course of the preliminary hearing, the other side raised the possibility that we will move from our downtown offices to the printing plant on Washington Street. We are considering such a move as part of our budget process. However, no decision on the move has been made and are still weighing all options. I fully expect to have a clearer picture of the budget in the near future and will share information as I have it.
Then, on May 8, Tully held a town-hall-style meeting at the Post with staff, saying the newsroom will relocate by the year’s end. Reporter Jon Murray live-tweeted the meeting, adding, “Our downtown bldg is expensive, of course. But no way to present @DenverPost move out of county as anything other than sad, frustrating.” On the positive side, Murray wrote no big layoffs are imminent but maybe some targeted cuts. The paper also wants to make investments in “things like politics coverage.” Tully has said the move was to cut costs. The paper plans to retain some downtown office space for some staffers.
Matt Sebastian, editor of The Boulder Daily Camera, which is owned by the same company, Digital First Media, put it into perspective: The Longmont Times-Call moved out of Longmont. The Loveland Reporter-Herald moved out of Loveland. And now The Denver Post is moving out of Denver.
Oh, and about that lawsuit…
The Denver Business Journal reported a judge temporarily stopped three former Denver Post ad execs from going after clients or employees of the paper as they attempt to start their own competing ad firm. “The suit alleges they took confidential documents when they unexpectedly resigned from the Post in April, intending to launch Digible and lure away the paper’s second-biggest advertiser.” There’s plenty of juicy stuff from the court hearing, including testimony from an ex-girlfriend. (Always the best kind of testimony, amirite?)
But wait there’s more…
Alan Prendergast of the Denver alt-weekly Westword cautions execs at the Post might not be popping champaign corks just yet. “Still ahead is a potentially embarrassing trial in the matter, one that could reveal details about internal operations and marketing strategies,” he writes. Prendergast e-mailed with the lawsuit’s target, Reid Wicoff, the paper’s former top ad exec. “He may have jumped ship himself, but Wicoff claims to still care about the welfare of his former colleagues,” Prendergast writes, quoting him as saying: “Notwithstanding all of these cuts, the Post still has some remarkable talent left in both the newsroom and the ad department. I still hope that some day all their efforts and sacrifices will be greeted with a different outcome.”
Have you seen The Denver Post’s new billboard, though?
It’s big. It’s teal. And this is what it says:
— John Frank ☀️ (@ByJohnFrank) April 28, 2017
And— just so we’re clear— you have also seen all the great work the paper’s reporters are doing, right?
A Colorado angle on the West Va. journalist arrested for asking questions of a Trump official
You might have heard about Daniel Heyman, the West Virginia journalist who was arrested and jailed as he shouted questions to Donald Trump’s health secretary Tom Price during a visit to the state capitol in Charleston. Heyman wanted to know whether domestic violence would be a pre-existing condition under the new GOP healthcare plan. He was hauled away in handcuffs, later released on a $5,000 bond. The news went viral as you can imagine. But what you might not know is that the 54-year-old journalist works for Public News Service, which is based out of Boulder, Colorado— “a member-supported news service that advocates journalism in the public interest.” PNS manages independent news services in 37 states, it’s founder told me.
The outlet’s mission, per its site:
The Public News Service is a growing network of committed journalists and long-time nonprofit staffers. With annual membership, an individual, organization or foundation can pledge support for the Public News Service with the understanding that they are helping to fund an independent news service committed to the public interest. Each membership can be earmarked for reporting on specific issue categories. Many foundations and public interest organizations – from those with fully developed communications programs to all-volunteer staff – support the Public News Services through membership, grants and gifts.
Find more about the Heyman arrest and its fallout here. I spoke with the Boulder-based founder of Public News Service and should have more for you on what they’re all about next week.
A Colorado university apologized for posting photos of local journalists they wanted to ban
So this was embarrassing. Last week, Boulder Daily Camera reporter Elizabeth Hernandez showed up to report on a sit-in at the chancellor’s office at the University of Colorado only to find a poster bearing pictures of her and three of the paper’s photographers along with the words “Not allowed in building.” Campus police created them and private security put them up.
From the Camera:
But the Camera had not requested, nor planned, to enter the building overnight in its efforts to cover the ongoing protest. The Camera’s photo editor on Monday night had sought permission from CU to photograph the student protesters inside the chancellor’s office during the day on Tuesday. That request was denied.
A university spokesman apologized and said the posters “clearly” were “not appropriate.” Then he let the journalists in to, you know, do their job and cover a student protest. “Although CU is a public campus, not every building is a public sphere for news gathering or other First Amendment-protected actions, said Steve Zansberg, board president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition,” according to the Camera.
What you missed on the Sunday front pages
The Longmont Times-Call covered questions about building near existing gas wells. With “In the Shadows,” The Greeley Tribune reported on fears and support for undocumented immigrants in the area. The Loveland Reporter-Herald looked at the re-opening of a mountain park. The Pueblo Chieftain reported on a citizens group seeking to unseat the sheriff. Steamboat Today & Sunday interviewed a local family visiting Cuba. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel covered a town dealing with recreational pot. The Boulder Daily Camera reported on a plea for exemptions from a local soda tax. In “Priced Out,” The Coloradoan in Fort Collins looked at commuter traffic gridlock as a symptom of unaffordable housing. The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported on brutal use of force in a local jail. The Durango Herald reported how GOP U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett collaborate. The Denver Post covered what happened and what to watch in the final days of the legislative session.
The governor is standing by his decision to keep certain inmate locations secret
“Despite differing legal interpretations and pleas from the families of several murder victims, Gov. John Hickenlooper and his attorney stand by the state’s decision to keep secret the locations of more than 100 inmates who have been moved out of Colorado,” according to KUSA 9News, which “spent months investigating a national prisoner exchange program” that “keeps the whereabouts of some Colorado inmates a secret— at last count, more than 100 inmates, including killers and rapists, were being held in other states.” The station’s in-depth report is worth a read.
The International Business Times would hire a Colorado-based money-in-politics reporter
The national outlet, whose investigations editor David Sirota lives in Denver, is looking for someone to focus on the intersection of business and politics. You’d have to write four to five stories a week, balancing long-form with quick hits of “original accountability reporting that brings to light either new information about major stories in the news cycle, or spotlight under-covered developments.” While the job isn’t necessarily location specific, Sirota said on Twitter, “I’d love to find a person here in town.” Here’s the job listing.
Want to know what kind of stories you might do?
The kind that cost money but can be helped with crowd funding. Sirota this week wanted to look into potential connections between oil-and-gas interests and state lawmakers so he filed an open records request for e-mails. But he was asked to pay $1,670 to fulfill the request. So he crowdfunded it through the website MuckRock which helps people access information. And he raised it, too— and rather quickly.
The city council in Steamboat might buy the local newspaper’s building
Welp. More on the This Newspaper Might Be Moving beat. It seems like the local government is thinking about buying the building occupied by The Steamboat Pilot. “Worldwest LLC, the former owner of the newspaper, is trying to sell the 23,222-square-foot building and 1.5 acres of nearby land along U.S. Highway 40 for $5.5 million,” The Pilot reports. “Steamboat Today and its new owner, Swift Communications, do not have a financial interest in a sale of the building.”
For the personnel file: Allison Sherry comes back to Colorado
Reporter Allison Sherry is new to the Colorado government beat for Colorado Public Radio, but she’s not new to the beat or to the state. Sherry started as a health care reporter for the Denver Post and over time became its Washington bureau chief, before moving over to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2014. “Having a reporter devoted solely to the government beat allows us time to deepen investigations into state policy and politics,” said CPR’s vice president of news Kelley Griffin. “Allison can now follow stories that develop over time and circle back for updates as things unfold.”
The legislative session is over— and we have two new public information laws
If you follow this newsletter closely you’ve followed a digital open records bill making its way through the legislature, how and why it came about, the people who helped push it, and why journalists thought it would be useful. Well, it passed and will become law in Colorado. “No longer will governments be permitted to provide searchable records in non-searchable formats such as image-only PDFs,” writes Jeffrey Roberts of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, who was involved in crafting the new law.
Meanwhile, lawmakers passed another law dealing with open records that Roberts and his group didn’t push. The new law, signed by the governor, was pitched as a “cooling off” law that forces you to call or meet with a record-holder before suing that person for denying you a record you think should be public. “The bill, however, also includes a significant opt-out clause, allowing a requester to explain in writing why he or she has ‘an expedited need’ for the records,” Roberts writes. “Under that provision, which might apply to a news reporter working on a deadline, CORA’s current three-day notice of intent to sue would be in effect.”
Now for some news on the local media front from CJR’s United States Project
The latest edition of CJR is dedicated to local news— “one of America’s great national institutions,” according to CJR Editor and Publisher Kyle Pope. Click here to peruse some of the copy. Also on that front, David Uberti wrote about how Gannett newspapers were hiding an important local story— their own— and he profiles the nation’s largest newspaper chain. Deirdra Funcheon reported how fearing gruesome details could taint a jury, a Florida judge barred media from a murder hearing. My colleague Jackie Spinner wrote ‘Another day, another shooting’: Photographing Chicago’s violence. Trudy Lieberman has tips for reporters caught between Obamacare and Trumpcare, and how they should proceed.
*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 Allen Tian