Archive for January, 2018

A reporter explains, in 33 tweets, why it’s so important to subscribe to The Denver Post. Please do so.

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Veteran Denver Post reporter John Ingold banged out a beautiful tweet storm Monday about why it’s so important to subscribe to The Denver Post right now.

Click here and do it now (first month is 99 cents), and here are Ingold’s tweets. (Ingold is the health and medicine reporter for The Post.)

Ingold: Friends, we are undergoing an exciting change here at The Denver Post, but it might not seem like a great deal at first. Please give me a minute to convince you otherwise… (Thread 1/?)

Starting today, we are limiting how many stories you can read online for free and asking — begging — you to buy a digital subscription. It’s a good deal: $11.99 per month. [even better is the 99 cent deal for the first month.]

But it’s also something much more than access to articles. It’s an investment in your community.

The Denver Post is not nearly as big as it was, and it doesn’t cover as much ground. That makes me sad, too. But it’s still the state’s biggest news organization, it’s part of Colorado’s history and it produces dozens of important stories every year you won’t see elsewhere.

Remember @KSimpsonDP’s heartfelt portrait of the practical flaws in Colorado’s aid-in-dying law?

Or @JBrownDPost’s searing reporting on immigrants who have to wait until they are near death before they can get dialysis?

What about our Colorado Divide series showing how rural Colorado is being left behind — a conversation that @GovofCO picked up in last week’s State of the State address? https://www.denverpost.com/tag/colorado-divide/ …

I’ve been here 17 years, and in that time laws have been passed, bad people have gone to jail, crimes have been thwarted and good lives have been saved because of the work of The Denver Post.

I’m not exaggerating this. I once wrote a story about a woman suffering from HIV/AIDS and chronic pain. She felt alone, abandoned. Years later, I saw her again and she looked amazing. And she told me that our story, photos and video saved her life — by showing her someone cared.

But here’s the thing about all these good works: As much as we at The Denver Post want to think of ourselves as a nonprofit community organization, we aren’t. We’re a business owned by a New York hedgefund that demands it gets its cut every year.

And death is on our heels.

The basics of our looming death are familiar: Advertisers are leaving print media, and pretty much every newspaper in America — including the New York Times — is seeing declines in print advertising dollars.

We and just about everyone else have tried to compensate for those losses by putting greater emphasis on online advertising. There’s a reason the company that owns us is called Digital First Media. But this won’t work.

Why? Because it does two things. First, it gives a lot of power to the tech platforms where readers find us — like Google and Facebook. And those platforms have been making decisions that stab virtual knives in our backs.

Take, for instance, Google’s latest changes to discourage websites from hosting auto-play and take-over ads. That’s great, right? I hate those things!…

…Except, annoying as they were, those ads brought in money that helped sustain our journalism.

Or what about Facebook’s newly announced changes to the news feed — designed to make you interact more with friends and family?…

…Well, they mean you’ll be seeing (and clicking) fewer Denver Post stories. Right now, Facebook accounts for about 13% of the traffic to my stories.

There’s another thing this focus on digital ad revenue does: It can warp news judgment and news values.

Think about what kinds of stories you want your local newspaper to cover. Does that list include Golden Globes red carpet slideshows? What about bizarre crimes committed by Florida Man? In a model where clicks = cash, you’ll likely see a lot of those latter stories.

Here’s an example: I’ve spent much of the last six months writing about health policy, Medicaid, CHIP, and Obamacare — big state and national issues that affect a lot of people. What’s my most-clicked story? A goofy thing about eclipse glasses.

Meanwhile, this story looking at what Colorado Medicaid is doing to reduce opioid overdoses got fewer than 1,000 clicks.

I get that it’s wonky and incremental and not at all sexy. But here’s the question: Would you rather have someone reporting on this kind of thing or not? Because that’s the choice. It’s not between fun stories and dull ones. It’s between community-centered journalism and oblivion

There might be quality publications that can make a business model based on online ads work. But they will be national ones, with enormous reader pools to draw from. Local publications don’t have that advantage.

And the hedgefunds taking over local media don’t care. They want revenue. If that means fewer stories about the local city council and more about celebrity sideboob, that’s what it means.

So what’s the solution? We need to join our community values as journalists with a business model for which those values are rewarded. We need to be able to make money *because* we (and you) care about our city. And this is where you come in.

This isn’t a charity pitch. If you pay for a Denver Post subscription, you’re getting more than symbolic value in return. You’ll be getting articles that help you make more knowledgeable decisions and be a more informed voter.

But you’ll also be making a statement that the people and the stories in your community matter, that they’re worth hearing. That you want someone watchdogging city council meetings. That you care about the consequences of state policy.

And because you’re paying for everything together, your money is supporting ALL of our work. Some months you want to read about the Broncos. Others about groundwater pollution. Either way, we’ll have you covered, and a reporter’s beat won’t depend on a few clicks here or there.

This also, frankly, gives you greater power to shape the news coverage in your community. You don’t like something we did? Great, because you’re not just a click on the website, you’re a subscriber! Call us up and give us an earful and demand that we listen.

There are a lot of great news organizations in this state and all of them are worth supporting. This isn’t an either/or. Watch the TV newscasts. Contribute to public radio. Read the alternative publications. Everybody is out there for sincere reasons.

But I can’t state this any more clearly: If you want to see a future where there’s a Denver Post in Denver, buying a digital subscription now is the best idea we have to make sure that happens.

I hope you agree, and, at the very least, I appreciate you humoring me for this tweetstorm. Thank you for reading over the years. Thank you for caring about Colorado. Thank you for thinking about subscribing: https://checkout.denverpost.com/subscriptionpanel … (Thread: End/Phew!)

Thanks everybody for the thoughtful replies to this thread! It’s so heartening to see how many people care about local journalism. Plus, an update: We’re running a special where you can get your first month’s access to The Denver Post for 99 cents:

Durango Herald replaces its Denver Bureau with content from ColoradoPolitics.com

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

The Durango Herald appears to have axed its much-admired, one-person Denver bureau, once staffed by legends like Joe Hanel then Peter Marcus, in favor of relying on content from ColoradoPolitics, which like the Colorado Springs Gazette, is owned by Phil Anschutz’s Clarity Media.

In a post Thursday, Herald Editor Amy Maestas wrote that the new “partnership” with ColoradoPolitics will “expand the political coverage we bring our readers” with both print an online-only stories.

The Durango Herald has a long-standing commitment to providing our readers in Southwest Colorado news about our lawmakers and the state Legislature. For many years, the Herald had a one-person bureau in Denver to write stories about legislation and issues pertinent to our corner of the state. Those full-time Herald staff reporters were invaluable as coverage from statewide news outlets dwindled.

To continue that commitment, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Colorado Politics, which will now provide our legislative and political coverage from Denver. Colorado Politics is a print and online publication that launched in January 2017. The news outlet is owned by Denver-based Clarity Media – the same company that owns the The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The Gazette’s editor, Vince Bzdek, is also editor of Colorado Politics…

This summer, Colorado Politics hired two writers to report on legislators and issues from the Western Slope. This includes La Plata and Montezuma counties. Under the leadership of lead reporter Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics journalists will provide daily coverage of statehouse activities, as well as follow the activities of state Sen. Don Coram and state Rep. Barbara McLachlan.

Maestas stops a millimeter short here from saying the Herald’s Denver bureau has been shuttered, and she did not immediately return an email seeking to confirm the death of the bureau. The Herald’s last known Denver Bureau Staffer, Luke Perkins, isn’t filing stories from Denver.

I also asked Maestas if she was paying for the ColoradoPolitics content, if she had concerns about the fact that GOP mega donor Phil Anschutz owns ColoradoPolitics, and if she’d gotten any reader feedback on the arrangement. Is she providing content to ColoradoPolitics?

My take on Anschutz’s ownership: we have no choice but to trust the journalists who work at ColoradoPolitics to alert us if he undermines their ability to practice journalism due to his partisan goals. Right now, there are clearly journalists on staff there who wouldn’t let Anschutz get away with too much.

Asked if ColoradoPolitics has similar relationships with other newspapers, Bunch said via email that his news site may partner with other rural outlets in the future.

The Durango Herald was one of the last rural newspapers in Colorado to staff a Denver/Capitol office. The Grand Junction Sentinel has a presence in Denver, in the venerable Charles Ashby. The Greeley Tribune keeps a few toes in Denver. The Fort Collins Coloradoan pretty much ended its coverage with the departure of the equally venerable Patrick Malone in 2013. The legislative coverage of the Colorado Springs Gazette, helmed previously by Megan Schrader and, before her, John Schroyer, has morphed into ColoradoPolitics.

Conversely, The Denver Post closed its last rural bureau in 2015, with the departure of Nancy Lofolm from the Grand Junction bureau.

Updated Wednesday with my opinion on Anschutz’s ownership.

Is fake news in the eye of the beholder, as Colorado political reporter claims?

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

In a blog post about Colorado’s 2017 Fake News Awards, which I bestowed last month to a group of Democratic and Republican officials, ColoradoPolitics reporter Dan Njegomir wrote that fake is “in the eye of the beholder.

But aren’t there objective ways a journalist can identify fake news? Like fact checking?

I emailed Njegomir and told him his eye-of-the-beholder view runs contrary to a tenant of journalism (and civility), which is that many facts, but not all, can be proven true (or false). And fact checks can be reported by journalists (and even liberal bloggers like me).

“I in fact agree with you that the news media have a responsibility to sift fact from fiction and put things in perspective,” Njegomir responded. “My point in observing that fake news is in the eye of the beholder is that the expression itself has been so overused and widely appropriated as to have no objective value. So, it can mean whatever you want. If you don’t like my news, it’s ‘fake.’ Same if I don’t like yours. Rarely does the accuser attempt to assess the actual veracity of the news report. ‘Fake news’ has become an all-purpose pejorative, kind of like ‘Nazi.’ But where it took ‘Nazi’ generations to achieve its all-purpose, ever-morphable meaning, it took ‘fake news’ less than a year.”

I’m one of the those people who accuses others of spreading fake news, and though I’m accused of being fake news myself, I honestly try to assess veracity.  But, alas, many who toss out the “fake news” salvo, like Trump, don’t care about the facts.

So Njegomir has a point that the term “fake news” is abused and lacks a precise definition.

But it’s still broadly understood as information from a news outlet that’s false.

As such, a discussion about whether something is “fake news” provides a framework for old-fashioned fact checking that’s less likely to put people to sleep than a discussion about “fact checking” itself, even though a fact checker and a fake-news cop are one and the same. They use research tools to prove truth or fakeness.

And the effort to spotlight and fight the spread of fake news has collateral benefits, like emphasizing the value of real journalism and the role of reporters as the arbiters of truth in civic discourse.

Bottom line, “fake” isn’t in the eye of the beholder. We should take advantage of people’s interest in fake news and argue about whether something is actually fake. And sometimes we can agree with each other.

How do reporters deal with Coffman’s abortion stance?

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Republican gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman told Peter Jones of the South Metro Villager last month that she backs abortion rights. Jones reported:

Coffman is likewise supportive of abortion rights.

“I want abortion to be rare. I want it to be safe, and I want us to be doing things as a society that diminish the need for there to be abortion,” she said.

That’s a pretty straight-forward articulation of a pro-choice position.

So you wonder why Coffman said previously that she was “surprised” that Channel 4 political specialist Shaun Boyd had characterized her as “pro-choice.”

“No! No, I didn’t. I refused to accept a label. And I still do,” Coffman said on air in response to a question about whether she’d describes herself as pro-choice.

Yet, Boyd reported that the Coffman campaign did not want Channel 4 to correct its story labeling Coffman as “pro-choice.”

So Coffman’s words say she’s pro-choice, but that’s not what she wants to be called? What to do with that, if you’re a reporter?  You have to call her pro-choice, because that’s what she appears to be, but maybe there’s more to the story.

Pols is “kind if fun” but Peak Politics makes you fall asleep, says Gardner-hating radio host

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

If you think that liking conservative talk radio and hating U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner are mutually exclusive, you would be wrong.

KNUS 710-AM co-hosts Julie Hayden and Chuck Bonniwell couldn’t have proven the point more clearly than they did last month in a segment titled, “Why We Hate Cory Gardner and Think You Should too.”

And in doing so, Bonniwell said something you don’t often hear from the mouths of righties: ColoradoPols is a much better blog than the conservative Colorado Peak Politics, which describes itself as “Colorado’s Conservative Bully Pulpit.”

Calling Pols “incredibly snarky, unfair, and everything else,” Bonniwell nonetheless said Pols is “kind of fun” and interesting reading, even though it’s a “left-wing” site.

Referring to Peak Politics, Bonniwell said, “You might as well read press releases and fall asleep, unfortunately.”

I wouldn’t even go that far, but yes, between Pols and Peak Politics, there’s no contest.

 

State senator, who falsely accused a Boy Scout of misquoting her, now claims media “panders to its liberal base”

Monday, January 1st, 2018

marble on media 3Colorado State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins), who falsely claimed last month that she was misquoted by a Boy Scott, stepped up her complaints about the “liberal media” in a Facebook post last month.

“As the liberal media panders to its liberal base, they continue fanning the flames of hatred and racism against conservatives of all colors and American principles and values,” Marble apparently wrote last month in a Facebook post obtained from a source.

Specifically, Marble called KMGH-TV, Channel 7, “lame.”

Marble didn’t return an email seeking an explanation, but her attack on the media may stem from frustrations over press coverage of a speech she gave to a group of Boy Scouts in October.

marble on media 2Marble insisted that Denver media outlets were wrong to point out that she’d delivered a falsehood to a den full of Scouts, after one Scout told her that he was astonished that Marble had, as the Scout put it, “blamed black people for poor health and poverty because of all the chicken and barbecue they eat.”

Marble responded to the scout, fifth graderAmes Mayfield, that he she’d made no such statement.

“I didn’t, that was made up by the media,” Marble told Mayfield in the den. “So, you want to believe it? You believe it. But that’s not how it went down. I didn’t do that. That was false. Get both sides of the story.”

In fact, Marble made the following statement during a 2013 hearing: “When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race. Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it.

“Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.”

The Scout was eventually booted from his den, but allowed to continue with another group of Boy Scouts.

marble on media 1