'Heartbreaking' announcement: A dinosaur printing press goes extinct in Grand Junction
More fallout from Lori Lizarraga's column, a new PR startup for reporters and sources, and more
It will ‘become a museum’
The publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel said this week the family-owned newspaper serving the largest city between Denver and Salt Lake City will no longer print its newspaper in house.
The move fits with a broader trend of consolidation as dinosaur printing presses like the Sentinel’s start to age out across the country. Mechanical parts for these massive machines, built at least as far back as the 1980s, can be hard to find — and sometimes so, too, can the people who know how to fix them if and when they break.
The three-story Goss Headliner printing press in Grand Junction is a beast, capable of firing off 40,000 copies of a 96-page newspaper in an hour. Cox Newspapers installed the machine about 40 years ago when some believed the city was on the cusp of becoming the next big shale-oil boomtown.
Now, part of the problem is the Sentinel just doesn’t need such printing capacity. “It’s like driving a semi truck for your daily commute when what you really need is a commuter car,” publisher Jay Seaton said in an interview.
So now The Montrose Daily Press will print the Sentinel, and workers there will drive copies 70 miles north five nights a week.
An interesting aside: In Colorado, geography can play a role in considering who to contract with for printing newspapers. You don’t want to print your paper in an area across a peak, canyon, or pass, for instance, when roads might close for days because of the weather.
From Seaton in a Wednesday memo to staff:
This will affect the jobs of many of our most dedicated and long-serving employees. These are our loyal co-workers, who come in late in the evening, prepare the press, prepare the next day’s plates, hang the paper rolls on the press, perform their magic to produce a beautiful product, fix problems as they arise, take down the press, insert the papers, bundle and label them, get them out the door, clean up and get ready for another day’s production.
It’s frankly heartbreaking to make this announcement knowing how it will affect our people, but the newspaper industry has shifted beneath our feet. It’s a “print or be printed” world now, and this change will make us more efficient and give us a sustainable future.
The printing consolidation in Colorado is another example of the disruption of the local newspaper business model.
“It used to be that having the printing press was your key to having a monopoly in your community,” Seaton says. “Obviously the internet has changed that and the printing press is just one more vehicle for dissemination of your information, but it’s no longer your monopoly.”
In Grand Junction, the printing press installed during the Regan era had become inefficient and uncompetitive. Newspaper companies with more modern presses like a Wick Communications-owned one in Montrose or a Swift Communications-owned press in Gypsum started siphoning away the Sentinel’s commercial work.
That’s what Seaton means when he says it’s a “print or be printed world” for local papers.
The publisher told his staff on Wednesday that production employees will receive financial assistance after the first week of July, and the paper is committed to helping find “commensurate alternative employment” for those impacted. The Sentinel, he said in his memo, has no plans to further reduce print days. (Like other newspapers in Colorado and beyond, the paper has cut its print run on certain days of the week.)
“The heartbreaking part is that we’ve got highly qualified pressmen here who have been loyal to this company for, in one case, 41 years,” Seaton says. “For those guys to have to be looking at separation — involuntary separation — is tough. This industry has got a lot of challenges, but when those guys are on the receiving end of it it’s really a bummer.”
Dennis Anderson, publisher of The Montrose Daily Press and The Delta County Independent, says he is inviting some of the Sentinel’s pressmen to work in Montrose.
As for what happens with the hulking piece of machinery that has a scrap value of about $40,000 (or about as much as it might cost to remove it), the printing press will likely be sticking around as an artifact of local journalism history in Grand Junction.
Says Seaton: “I think it will essentially become a museum.”
Lizarraga column fallout: Investor in 9News parent company gets involved
One of the largest investors in Tegna, the parent company of Denver’s KUSA 9News TV station, is noting last week’s Lori Lizarraga Westword column — and more — in publicly available documents it filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tegna Inc shareholder Standard General called on the company on Thursday to open its books and records to investigate what it claimed as a “broad pattern of bias and racially-insensitive behavior” at the U.S. regional TV station operator.
The financial investor cited media reports and what Reuters called “a scathing letter it received from a former Tegna employee.”
In a statement to Reuters, Tegna called the investor’s call out a “distorted picture” of the company and indicated it came as part of a “proxy fight.” The company acknowledged its “record is not perfect,” and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion continues to be a top priority, Reuters reported.
Locally, Westword has its own write-up outlining what’s contained the documents. Also from Westword:
Diversity on the air and behind the scenes has long been a subject of debate at Denver TV stations, with journalists of color frequently complaining that they tend to be sidelined in secondary or subsidiary roles rather than being given an equal opportunity to climb the ladder — and 9News is no exception.
The Standard General involvement comes as the firm “may be intent on grabbing greater influence in the broadcast TV company it has invested in,” according to Radio + Television Business Report. “Standard General LP … is seeking three board seats,” Bloomberg reported in March.
The investor’s public statements about Tegna and its 9News Denver station is the latest development to come since Lizarraga’s column dropped last Sunday. The Latina reporter revealed on March 28 in Denver’s alternative weekly newspaper that she was the third Latina reporter let go within a year by 9News, among other troubling accounts.
‘It matters who is on the news’
Reverberations from Lizarraga’s column rippled elsewhere throughout the week.
On Tuesday, she appeared on the City Cast Denver podcast and talked with host Bree Davies about why she wrote what Davies called a “damning” column.
“I felt like if I didn’t share I would always regret it,” Lizarraga said. “I really wanted to do this for the journalists coming behind me. And as always as I have said the reason for the piece was for the community because it matters who is on the news.”
Lizarraga also talked about the conscious efforts in industries to diversify their workplaces. “What we come with isn’t just what we look like but it’s the shared experiences of our communities,” she said. “And I felt like there was a conscious effort to have us in the building but not to elevate the communities that we brought with us or the shared experiences we brought.”
On the podcast, Lizarraga also went into more detail about a situation in which she says she was told to use the phrase “illegal” instead of “undocumented” in coverage about a local high school student. Listen to the whole interview here.
A day later she appeared on The Steffan Tubbs Show at 710 KNUS radio in Denver and offered more behind-the-scenes details about her work at the station. “I’m not sounding this alarm for the first time with this article,” she said at one point. “These are conversations I had for two years, that people certainly had before me, and that people are still having within the walls of that newsroom.”
Her column led to at least one meeting among local public figures and station management.
On Tuesday, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists said its leadership met with the chief diversity and inclusion officer and a corporate content executive team member at Tegna. The NAHJ did not come away pleased.
Today at 2 p.m., you can join a virtual panel discussion about “the history of struggle and resistance among Latinx leaders organizing for more reflective and equitable local news and media in Colorado.” The panel, hosted by the Colorado Media Project, COLab, and News Voices: Colorado, was scheduled before Lizarraga’s column came out, but it’s likely to come up.
‘You only pay if we get you into the news’
A Denver-based startup is promising to “connect journalists with diverse, pre-vetted expert sources” — and if the source winds up in the story, the source will have to pay.
That’s the concept behind Vetted, a platform run by Coloradans Jon Amar and Matthew Kaliara. Colorado Inno, which is connected to business trade publications like the Denver Business Journal, profiled the startup this week.
From the write-up:
Vetted offers a transparent pricing solution that only charges experts when their connection with a journalist results in inclusion in a published article. There is no subscription fee and Vetted’s media placement fee ranges from $350 to $600 depending on the size and reputation of the media outlet in which experts are quoted.
And, on the other side of the marketplace, Amar said Vetted offers news outlets a new way to connect with diverse sources. “For journalists, what we were hearing is it’s really difficult to find diverse, high-quality voices,” he said.
Vetted platform gives journalists the ability to locate sources based on keyword, location and demographics, including gender identity, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity and much more. And, unlike other media databases, journalists’ contact information isn’t listed during the sourcing process. Amar compared the interaction to the way people communicate on Craigslist, where contact information is masked.
The platform makes sure journalists and sources are, well, vetted first. Get it?
“At Vetted, you only pay if we get you into the news,” reads part of the publicity material for the platform on its site.
So, how much? For a regional outlet — one example on the site is the Denver Business Journal — it’ll cost you $350 per article. A national outlet will whack your wallet $500, and if you want to see your name in a Reuters wire story or in The New York Times, you’re shelling out six-hundred smackaroos.
If you’re a journalist or PR pro, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts about this business model here.
Colorado College student wins NPR’s Podcast Challenge
“After a judging process like no other, this year’s Student Podcast Challenge: College Edition ended up with two grand-prize winners,” wrote NPR this week in announcing the results of its annual contest.
One of the winners, Anya Steinberg, hails from Colorado College in the Springs. Daniel Archibald, also of Colorado College, wrote the music for the podcast.
Anya Steinberg takes us through her journey of self-discovery when she learned that her biological father — a sperm donor she had always been told was a doctor — was in fact a jazz musician.
“You know, what I liked about '23 Chromosomes’? The emotions are complicated,” said Felix Contreras, one of our judges and host of NPR’s Alt.Latino podcast. “Very, very complicated. And [Anya] navigated it so well.”
“It was emotionally sophisticated, it was fair minded and it exemplified some good journalistic values,” … Michel Martin, another judge and weekend host of NPR’s All Things Considered, said. “She showed her openness and a willingness to be interested in other people's point of view.”
Steinberg will appear on NPR’s “All Things Considered” in the coming weeks to talk about the story and she’ll be on at least one station in Colorado, too.
“It was scary to put that much of myself out there in a podcast, and to know that people heard my story and resonated with the things that I shared means everything to me,” she told the station.
More Colorado local media odds and ends
💻 Three national journalists waded “into issues of objectivity, truth-seeking and trust in news during a virtual panel Tuesday at University of Colorado Boulder’s Conference on World Affairs.”
🎉 The Ark Valley Voice celebrated its third birthday, saying it “must and does persevere in the face of threats, name-calling, funding challenges, and all the other attacks these days on those news media.”
📱 The Montrose Daily Press is focusing on misinformation and how to sift through “fact and fiction in a digital age.”
👀 “A nonpolitical career DEA agent from say, Alabama, could hear of someone from Colorado smuggling Colorado edibles into an Alabama concert, and could investigate Colorado operators, and those who bank with them, or newspapers where they advertise, all of which ‘aid and abet’ criminal activity,” according to a guest column in The Gazette (emphasis mine).
🚨 Sentinel Colorado managing editor Kara Mason said a letter to the editor this week read: “maybe some bullets should come your way too. Dont forget to duck.” About receiving the letter, she said, “I often wonder what people in jobs not in journalism would do if they got these kinds of messages — from phony email addresses, penned with fake names — on a regular basis.”
⚖️ “The town of Monument sold five grave plots in city-owned Monument Cemetery to a Boy Scout’s family in an apparent effort to dodge a First Amendment lawsuit threatened by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,” The Indy reports.
🤦 “Social media users have been sharing posts online that show a screenshot of a CNN broadcast story with a headline about the Colorado mass shooting suspect,” Reuters reports. “This image has been digitally altered to include a false headline.”
❌❌ The two dominant newspapers in Colorado Springs, the daily Gazette and the alt-weekly Indy, both struck out Tuesday with their endorsements in a five-candidate race for a city council seat representing parts of downtown. Does it indicate the editorial boards might not have their fingers on the pulse of the community, or just might not have the juice to move the needle?
🤐 “It turns out signing a non-disclosure agreement will make you do strange things, like trying to keep a secret in a small town,” writes Mike Wiggins of The Ouray County Plaindealer.
🎙️ JoAnn Kalenak of the nonprofit Delta County Citizen Report, which calls itself a “blog bringing transparency to Delta County, Colorado government,” talked with KVNF about “the future of the Delta library, recycling, junkyards, transparency, the mask mandate, and other stories she covers in her newsletter.”
🆕 KGNU welcomes Shannon Young as its new news & public affairs director. Young, “who is fluent bilingual English-Spanish, has just made the move from Oaxaca, Mexico to lead the KGNU News Department.” Maegan Olmstead, who has “a background in communications, reporting and digital marketing,” is the new multimedia reporter for The Fort Morgan Times.
🔭 In an interesting case involving privacy and police surveillance, Colorado Politics reported this week how “None of Colorado's Supreme Court justices appeared entirely comfortable with allowing police to initiate continuous, long-term surveillance of a home, including its driveway and backyard, by installing a camera mounted to a utility pole.”
⚙️ The Colorado Publishing House, which runs The Colorado Springs Indy, The Colorado Springs Business Journal, Southeast Express, and The Pikes Peak Bulletin is hiring.
📉 Jason Salzman, founder of the progressive Colorado Times Recorder site, says he has noticed Republicans in Colorado sharing less fake news on Facebook. He attributes the decline “in part, to the efforts of Facebook to tag it, shaming those who spread it. And restricting its reach or flat-out canceling egregious perpetrators for good reason.”
I’m Corey Hutchins, instructor at 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, too, would like to underwrite 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.