Many Denver journalists have disappeared over the past few years. I thought it would be fun and interesting to hear from them. So I’ve been asking a few what they’ve been up to–and what they think of the state of journalism in Colorado these days.
Former Post metro columnist Diane Carman was kind to take time to answer those two questions. (See below.) She started at the The Post in 1989, working first as features editor and then entertainment editor. She wrote a column once a week from 1991 to 1998 before she became a full-time columnist. Here’s what Diane wrote me via email this week.
My current situation:
I left the Post in 2007 to join the staff at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. For the first year or so, I was working primarily with the Presidential Climate Action Project, a national nonprofit headquartered in the school. That effort trailed off after the 2008 presidential election and I began working full time for the school. I have helped faculty and staff members work more effectively with the local media, organized events on public policy issues, taught a class on the media and public policy, and helped produce the alumni magazine and features for the website.
I am developing a nonprofit health policy analysis operation to be headquartered at the school. Funded by private foundations, the project will feature regular email newsletters, a website and a blog on health policy in the context of Colorado. It will be old-fashioned reporting, writing and analysis, but in an intentional nonprofit model. We hope to have it operating within the next six months.
While I miss the newspaper business, especially the newsroom atmosphere, I have come to enjoy my new colleagues and the opportunity to learn new skills. I feel really fortunate to have found another job working in the world of ideas. Still, I’m amazed at how many total strangers stop me on the street or at the grocery every week to tell me they miss my column. It was a wild ride and I’ll never forget it.
The state of Colorado journalism:
The news that Craig Walker won the Pulitzer Prize this year was tonic for those of us who want to see the news business in this town succeed. Craig is a tremendously talented guy who’s really well liked. He shot some amazing photos and really persevered to see that project through. It was so well deserved.
That being said, projects like Craig’s are becoming increasingly rare across the country …• not just in Denver. I’m a big fan of long-form journalism, investigative reporting, in-depth analysis and tenacious searching for the truth …• all of which are expensive to produce on a consistent basis. Given the demise of the Rocky and the reduced staff and savaged news budget at the Post, we are getting a small fraction of that kind of high-caliber journalism anymore. Some days I actually pick up a New Yorker after I finish reading the Post because I can’t find enough to read to occupy myself for a 20-minute bus ride.
My pals in the newsroom are working hard, trying to achieve greatness and they believe in what they do. They don’t know if they’ll ever get another raise or another contribution by the company to their 401k. And they all know the odds are against them given the outdated business model for the industry. I wish them all the best, but I’m not optimistic that we’ll ever see the kind of high-quality journalism that we got during our great Denver newspaper war in the ’90s. At least not from newspapers.
That being said, I really hope they prove me wrong.