❄️ Colorado media odds & ends - holiday season edition
Your news behind the news ... of another snowless week
🥃 This newsletter could be the last of 2021 as classes end and the holiday season approaches all too quickly. The past 12 months were something — and you can expect a full wrap-up in the new year. (If you want to wind back the clock and see what happened in our media world in 2020, here’s your time machine.) A special thanks to Colorado Media Project and Grasslands for supporting this newsletter about our local media scene. Now, here’s what happened this week.
🏛 Colorado Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter “introduced legislation aimed at protecting and honoring local journalism’s role in supporting democracy,” Colorado Newsline’s Julia Fennell reported. Perlmutter and his co-sponsors “added that while many local reporters retain the trust of their communities, trust in journalists is ‘at an all-time low nationally,’ and ‘nonjournalistic digital media’ has been ‘falsely labeled and marketed as news.’”
🗞 An editor’s note on the front-page of The Boulder Daily Camera told readers how a “shortage of newsprint” would mean an even thinner newspaper.
📢 Summit Daily, one of the newspapers recently purchased by Ogden Newspapers out of West Virginia, is seeking “a political columnist to provide a conservative voice on its opinion pages alongside Bruce Butler.”
🌿 This week’s newsletter is proudly supported in part by Grasslands, Denver’s Indigenous-owned PR, marketing, and ad agency that is thankful for the tireless work reporters do to bring our communities the stories that matter. Founded by veteran Denver Post journalist Ricardo Baca, Grasslands — the recipient of a 2020 Denver Business Journal Small Business Award — is a Journalism-Minded Agency™ working with brands in highly regulated industries including cannabis, technology, and real estate. Operating from its new offices in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe, the firm’s 20-person team of communications professionals is focused on a single mission: “We tell stories, build brands and amplify value.” Email email@example.com to see how Grasslands can supercharge your brand’s marketing program (and read some of our cannabis journalist Q&As here). 🌿
✂ “My good friends at Gannett have laid me off,” reads a LinkedIn post for someone identifying as a group publisher and regional sales manager in Southern Colorado. “And that’s ok. Truly. Not angry nor bitter nor concerned. What I am is confident the next chapter will be exciting and fresh.” (This newsletter has been tracking the impacts of the monster-merger between GateHouse and Gannett on Colorado.)
💨 Daniela Leon has left KKTV for Kansas City after four years in the Springs.
📡 “The local television blackout of Avalanche and Nuggets games on Comcast might finally be nearing its end,” The Denver Post reported. “Altitude TV — a Kroenke-owned independent regional sports network — has updated its position in contract negotiations with a new offer to Comcast. The state’s largest cable provider has not carried Altitude since their previous deal expired in September 2019.”
⬆️ Journalist Chris Vanderveen is now the director of special projects at KUSA 9News in Denver, the city’s local NBC affiliate.
✄ A string of Colorado newspapers owned by the Nevada-based Swift Communications that were recently purchased by the West Virginia company Ogden Newspapers has reduced its shared copy desk by two full-time employees, Aspen Times publisher Samantha Johnston said. She added the sale does not close until Dec. 31 and it’s “business as usual” through then. The copy desk changes, she said, were “business decisions that pre-dated Ogden.”
👀 Colorado Public Radio’s Vic Vela, a self-described “recovering cocaine addict” who once called himself “the least PC person in Denver,” says he doesn’t appreciate Associated Press style guidelines that urge journalists to “avoid describing sobriety as ‘clean’ unless in direct quotations, since it implies a previous state of dirtiness instead of disease.” As a journalist “and recovering drug addict, I proudly say I’m clean,” Vela said on social media. “It’s also a word commonly used by people in recovery. Sanitize language all you want. But addiction isn’t a fucking Disney movie. It’s a horror show. And it doesn’t care about stylebook window dressing.”
☀️ “Separating news from opinion is incredibly important, especially as public trust in journalism is strained,” The Colorado Sun told readers this week, adding how that dynamic put the 3-year-old local news site in a “bit of a pickle.” So it started a new Twitter account called @ColoradoOpinion.
📺 Popular 9News anchor Kyle Clark in Denver told viewers his family “needed the kindness of strangers in a difficult moment” this week but didn’t elaborate on the details. He added the incident reminded him “that while unfriendly people are loud these days, they are vastly outnumbered by the rest of us.”
🌶 John Rodriguez, the former publisher of PULP newsmagazine in Pueblo, appeared on Clark’s show ‘Next’ to say how he believed the anchor’s recent commentary about Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert missed the point.
🔗 Some readers noticed The Denver Post led its Monday front page with a story from The Colorado Sun. (It wasn’t the first time the paper published Sun work. “It was a way to signal properly that the Denver Post wants to work with the other media organizations around the state—that we don’t imagine ourselves as the lone wolf,” said the Post’s editor, Lee Ann Colacioppo, last year about its involvement in collaborative efforts.)
🆔 Some Colorado police departments are still annoyingly demanding IDs of journalists when reporters make public records requests.
🔁 Mark Harden, who is stepping down as editor of Colorado Community Media, is staying away from the word “retire” and instead is calling his move “a transition from one state of being to another.” Harden said, “I first exited this job last fall – I called it ‘semi-retiring’ at the time — as I approached 65. I settled into freelance writing and reporting for various outlets along with contract editing for The Colorado Sun.”
⚖️ “Despite reform, some Colorado court records are still blocked from public view without explanation,” The Denver Post reported.
😬 A former Denver Post digital strategist says he “failed to make any meaningful change” at the paper. “I tried for months to give feedback to corporate about the website (JS errors, poor UX) and was politely told to get back to social and newsletters. I regret not pushing harder.”
📱 Colorado State Sen. Julie Gonzales highlighted how the labeling (or not labeling) of sponsored content appears differently on The Denver Post’s app and homepage.
🤦 In recent weeks, Colorado conservative activist Joe Oltmann “has repeatedly called for the mass executions of some elected officials, including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. senators, as well as members of the mainstream media and others he deems to be ‘treasonous traitors,’” Colorado Newsline reported.
🖌 A journalist found free journalism advice graffitied on a bridge in Colorado Springs.
💵 Media News Group, which runs The Denver Post and several other papers in Colorado, is now posting pay ranges for Colorado journalism jobs. The company hadn’t been previously. A Post reporter gave a hat-tip to a journalist and others who “filed complaints and held corporate’s feet to the fire.” (“The hourly wage range is $19.02 - $33.27” for an open position to become a legislative reporter at the Post.)
☄️ Denver Democratic Rep. Emily Sirota’s husband, David Sirota, who is a journalist in Denver where he runs The Daily Poster, has a new movie out with director Adam McKay called “Don’t Look Up.” The film stars Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, and Ariana Grande, among others. Sirota, who co-wrote the movie, appeared on Colorado Public Radio to talk about his film — one that Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner described as a “scathing satire about peoples’ response to climate change, except a comet hurtling towards Earth stands in for global warming.” In the film, Warner notes, “members of the media downplay the seriousness to keep their shows light and fluffy.” In the interview, Sirota said his movie is about how we communicate with each other. “The question that this movie asks,” he said, “is ‘Are we as a society able to process basic facts, and constructively act on those facts, or are those facts always going to be cannon fodder in a culture war, in a partisan war, in a media war?’”
➡️ Colorado Media Project is looking for “a creative, flexible, motivated individual to serve as Learning and Grants Manager for the next phase of CMP’s life cycle.” ($75k-$85k.)
📰 The Ouray County Plaindealer published a nearly blank front page with the headline “What if community journalism disappeared?”
🤺 Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund “known for consolidating local news companies for profit,” is suing Lee Enterprises, a chain with newspapers in the West, following a unanimous decision by Lee’s board to reject Alden’s “hostile takeover bid,” Axios reported. The hedge fund is the one known for gutting The Denver Post and financially controls roughly a dozen papers in Colorado. One Post reporter called Alden’s court action “The villainous billionaire urge to sue when you’re told no.” (Because we live in America, Lee’s stock rose 12% following news of the suit.)
⏭ Max Levy, a reporter for The Loveland Reporter-Herald who recently helped launch a successful union drive at the paper is now moving on. He’ll join Sentinel Colorado as its city reporter. “I’m very proud of the role that I was able to play in getting this effort going,” he said.
❤️ Meanwhile, the Heart of NoCo labor union at the Loveland Reporter-Herald said this week it was heading into its “11th round of negotiations” with Media News Group over working conditions. The union said more than 300 people, mostly Loveland residents, “signaled their support for us in a letter sent to our publisher Al Manzi and MNG leaders last week.”
📞 The New York Times fired a Wirecutter editor after the Loveland, Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights published “an audio recording that it said contains voice-mail messages” that she had “left at its offices, expressing her anger at the group.” The group posted on its site that the “mainstream media is out to get us, and if you’re as sick of this kind of biased-journalism as I am then I hope I can count on you to fight back right now!” (Wirecutter is a product-review site owned by the Times “but it operates with some distance from the newspaper, and its staffers are not part of the Times newsroom,” The Washington Post reported. “Repeatedly invoking the New York Times’s name in an unprofessional way that imperils the reputation of Wirecutter, The Times, and all of our journalists is a clear violation of our policies and cannot be tolerated,” a Times spokesperson told the paper.
📣 Colorado Newsline pointed out how attention to a recent report about local crime authored by two former prosecutors “benefited from the media visibility enjoyed by co-author George Brauchler, the Republican former district attorney in Arapahoe County, who has a radio show and a Denver Post column.”
🗽Colorado Public Radio’s Monica Castillo is moving back to New York City after a little more than a year in Denver. “Moving to a new city with few connections during the pandemic was tough, and it took its toll,” she said. “I’ve not seen enough written about this experience (maybe I’ll expand on that some other time). Even though I moved around a lot in my 20s, nothing prepared for that isolation.”
🏞 Each year, Harvard’s Nieman Lab offers predictions about the near-future of journalism, and this time Colorado got a pair of mentions. One of them, about fundraising campaigns for local newsrooms, noted how “regional matching campaigns and collaboratives have taken off in Colorado and New Mexico.” Another prediction name-checked The Colorado Sun among “the next generation of local news organizations.”
I’m Corey Hutchins, interim director of Colorado College’s Journalism Institute, the Colorado-based contributor for Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project, and a journalist for multiple news outlets. The Colorado Media Project, where I write case studies, is underwriting this newsletter, and my “Inside the News” column appears at COLab, both of which I sometimes write about here. (If you would like to join CMP and Grasslands in underwriting this newsletter, hit me up.) Follow me on Twitter, reply or subscribe to this weekly newsletter here, or e-mail me at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.
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