The Colorado Statesman, which reports the nitty gritty of politics that’s loved by junkies and is hard to find these days outside of partisan blogs and radio shows, has appointed a former Republican politician as publisher: Jared Wright, former state representative from Mesa County.
Over the weekend, Wright answered a few questions via email regarding his new job.
Jason Salzman: I was glad to read that Judy Hope Strogoff thinks that you’re “aptly qualified” to run the Statesman. But, still, you’re obviously known as a partisan Republican, albeit with a libertarian streak. Will you assure readers of the Statesman that you’ll try, as publisher, to be fair to all sides, and why should we believe you?
Jaered Wright: Thanks for your questions, Jason. First, just as a point of clarification, The Statesman’s long-time publisher’s name is Jody Hope Strogoff. [Jason Salzman: I've made the same mistake before, and I regret the error.] I have a deep respect for Jody’s long-time dedication and contributions to The Statesman and Colorado political reportage in general. Jody is not going away and will continue to be a mentor to me, a contributor to the newspaper and certainly an asset to this institution.
Yes, readers can be assured that I will strive to be fair. When I was an elected representative, my job was to represent the people of my district – a largely conservative district at that. My role has now changed significantly. Now, my duty is to deliver objective, balanced and complete news reporting to the people of this state, something The Statesman is known for as an institution, and something I take very seriously. For proof, keep reading The Statesman and you will see it within our pages.
Also take a look back at some of my political cartoons. In my artwork, you will see I don’t pull punches from either side of the political aisle editorially.
As publisher, I have full respect for the divide that must exist between the business side of the publication and its editorial department.
Having been on the other side of the microphone as an elected official, I know what objective reporting looks like. I also know what biased, agenda-driven reporting looks like. The former is what we must strive for. It is vital for a free society.
Salzman: Many were way surprised that you got the publisher job. Do you want to explain how it came to pass that you were named publisher?
Wright: I was surprised too! Sometimes life delivers unforeseen opportunities, and this was one I could not pass up. I have always been an avid reader of newspapers and an ardent consumer of political media in general, so I count this chance to contribute directly in the field of journalism an exciting opportunity, and one that I take very seriously.
Salzman: What are your plans, on the editorial side, for the newspaper? Do you have a vision for the Statesman beyond what we’ve seen in recent years?
Wright: My two biggest goals for our editorial department are modernization and growth. The Statesman is truly an institution in this state – it’s been around since 1898. My vision for the newspaper is to carry forward its history of fair, objective and unique, insider-oriented Colorado political reporting while also rejuvenating it to better serve modern news consumers – people who are busy professionals reading their news on their smartphones while taking RTD into work, reading a quick story on their laptop on lunch hour, catching up on the latest chatter under the gold dome while at their kid’s soccer match, etc. Providing this distinctive, high-quality news content to a growing, diverse and sophisticated audience throughout Colorado is the focal point of my vision for The Statesman
Salzman: Do you plan to make the newspaper more web-friendly?
Wright: Yes, as you know, a simple, robust, well-designed website is absolutely key to media success in the 21st century.
Salzman: What political publications and political reporters do you admire?
Wright: In feel lucky to be working now for a publication where our lead reporter also happens to be one of my longtime favorites. Ernest Luning is a very talented reporter with investigative acumen – well connected, fair, and a tremendous writer. I’ve read his stories in The Statesman for years now, and he does a great job.
Salzman: Sources tell me that the loss of legal ads have put the Statesman’s future in jeopardy. Is it true that the newspaper is on shaky financial ground and, if so, do you have any specific plans to solidify things?
Wright: It’s no secret that the print industry has been in the midst of some turbulence and will continue to face challenging times ahead – no matter what the publication – but I also see big opportunities within grasp so long as we have positioned ourselves on the cusp of the wave. Being quick on our feet and adaptive to technological changes and trending methods of media consumption will be vital.
Salzman: Sources tell me that Larry Mizel almost certainly owns a majority share of the newspaper. Can you tell me if this is true?
Wright: As with many other well-known, privately owned publications and media conglomerates across the country – many of which deliver premium, award-winning news content – it is not our policy to give out the names of our investors.
Salzman: Any other comments?
Wright: Yeah, yeah – I know. I’m the guy that made the stupid mistake at the Capitol. I’m not perfect. [Jason Salzman note: Wright is best known for leaving a loaded gun in a House committee room.] I’ve screwed up a time or two in my life. And when I do, I admit it, fix it, learn from it and move on. The future of The Colorado Statesman is very important to me. I only look back to learn from my missteps. Otherwise, I’m looking 100% forward.
Salzman: Thanks again
Wright: Thanks for your contributions to Colorado’s media landscape, Jason, and for participating in what is clearly not always an easy or profitable career. I appreciate the opportunity to interview with you.