Archive for the 'Colorado Statesman' Category

Life after death for the Colorado Statesman

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Everyone thought the Colorado Statesman was about to die, and it just did.

But there’s life after death for the political weekly, because it’s been purchased by conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz, through Clarity Media, which plans to fold many of the pieces of the Statesman, including many of its staffers, into a media property that Clarity launched about a year ago called ColoradoPolitics.com

Here’s what’s going to happen, according to a post in ColoradoPolitics.com:

The websites of the two media companies will become one starting June 1, under the Colorado Politics banner. Clarity Media, which owns The Gazette newspaper and several weekly publications in Colorado Springs as well as the Washington Examiner, Weekly Standard and Red Alert Politics in Washington, D.C., will become the Statesman’s new owner.

The Statesman’s print newspaper, which has published nonstop since 1898, will continue to publish weekly under the Statesman banner until a complete redesign and relaunch planned for later in 2017. At that time, the Statesman will be rebranded Colorado Politics.

The new, combined website will feature free and exclusive subscriber-only news stories daily. Subscribers also will receive the print edition of the newspaper in the mail every week with additional subscriber-only content being provided in the future. The print edition will also be available on newsstands around Denver in the coming months.

You got that right. Available on newsstands around Denver in the coming months!

Who in their right mind would ever have expected a political newspaper in Denver to launch a street-side print edition in 2017? Phil Anschutz, that’s who. Because he lives in a billionaire reality.

God knows what he has in mind, but I’m glad a group of talented and respected journalists are going to keep their jobs. I’m counting on them to let the world know if Anschutz starts trying to meddle with elections and such in Colorado.

 

 

More of the Colorado Statesman’s content, but not all of it, is free

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

In a blog post last week, I reported that all of the Colorado Statesman‘s content is now available for free. It turns out that what’s been freed from paywall protection is the Capitol/legislative coverage–as well as the opinion content that was free previously.

The Hot Sheet, which is the political weekly’s daily political news digest, is also free. The Hot Sheet announced the paywall change this way:

“The Hot Sheet is now free to all readers!,” stated the Statesman’s Hot Sheet Jan. 13. “Tell your friends. But that’s not all, folks. No, no, no! All of The Colorado Statesman’s coverage and analysis of the Colorado Legislature’s 2017 session is also free to the public. Have fun!”

This means that non-legislative political stories, like the Statesman’s coverage of the Affordable Care Act, is alas still behind the paywall.

I’m sorry for the error.

 

 

Some of the paywall falls at the Colorado Statesman

Friday, January 20th, 2017

The subscription page of the Colorado Statesman, a political weekly newspaper, says you’ll stay “in the dark” if you don’t subscribe to the publication. Not true.

You can now access more of the Statesman’s content free, online, anytime.

Gone is some the pesky paywall that buried stories, stifled debate, and, most importantly, apparently didn’t generate enough money to justify its existence.

The paywall has been eliminated for 2017 legislative coverage only. Other political stories remain behind the paywall.

Launched in conjunction with the publication’s 118 birthday last year, the Statesman’s subscription-only business model required you to pay $159 to access the print and most online content, forcing frustrated reporters to tweet screen shots of articles in a desperate effort to stay relevant.

At the time, Statesman Editor Jared Wright, a former Republican state lawmaker, told me he hoped his publication would generate funds, like a trade journal. At the state level, he pointed to the Arizona Capitol Times as a model. An effort to offer a portion of the publication as an insert in The Denver Post apparently didn’t make economic sense and was abandoned.

Wright did not immediately return a call to comment on scaling back the paywall.

I have to hold my nose as I write this, which means I’m reduced to one-handed typing because I lost my nose clips, but I still think those who can afford it should subscribe to the Statesman. It provides coverage of local politics, especially campaign and insider tidbits, that you can’t find anywhere else.

The hold-my-nose part comes from the not-secret secret that Republican King-Like businessman Larry Mizel, who chaired Trump fundraising events in Denver last year, owns a controlling interest in the Statesman. But even though this is a well-known fact, Mizel and Wright won’t talk about who owns the paper–a problem compounded by Wright’s partisan background and his sometimes strange copy editing and staffing decisions, like hiring a Tea Party activist as an editor and sometimes using the newspaper’s morning-email briefing as an apparent amplifier for Republican messaging.

In any case, with some excellent and trustworthy reporters still freelancing for the Statesman and its commitment to state political reporting, it’s great to see the paywall fall and the newspaper become more relevant and timely to more people.

(P.S. Make sure you’ve subscribed or donated to The Denver Post, CPR, KGNU, the Colorado Independent, and all your local outlets before you pony up for the Statesman. Mizel can carry the Statesman on his pile of money, you’d hope, without much help.)

CORRECTION: This post originally stated that the entire paywall was removed.

 

Advocacy journalism is expanding in Colorado. Can you trust it?

Monday, November 28th, 2016

While most people were asleep last week, the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reported Denver Post political reporter John Frank’s view, offered during a panel discussion Nov. 15, that partisan news seems to be expanding in Colorado.

The Colorado Statesman is run by a former Republican lawmaker, The Colorado Springs Gazette started a great new political experiment I’m super excited about but their lead writer on their new political vertical is a former Republican staffer,” he said. “I am very concerned about us moving toward that partisan side of news but I think there’s a reason we’re moving in that direction— it’s because I think that’s where the money is.”

Not only is the Statesman run by a former Republican lawmaker, it’s controlled by Larry Mizel, a major GOP donor and supporter of Trump. (What’s worse, Mizel and the Statesman are mum about who owns the newspaper.)

It’s pretty clear that Frank is right that advacacy journalism is expanding here.

The sad story of the demise of Colorado Health News, as told to me last year by the publication’s former editor, Diane Carman, reinforces the point.

“You step on everybody’s toes when you are an objective journalism organization,” said Carman, who was editor and founder of Health News Colorado. “Everybody got burned a little bit at some point, because we took the role of watchdog seriously. So, when you do that, it makes it really easy for people to say, ‘I’m not so sure we have the money for that this year.’ I never got the impression we were being censored. There was never an impression of that. But I do feel that if we had been willing to cross over into the advocacy world, that we would still be alive.”

It not hard to see that a news outlet of any kind, nonprofit of for-profit, that’s struggling financially is more likely to lower its journalistic standards in order to stay afloat. You don’t have to be much of a media critic to see it happening in Colorado and beyond.

At some point, news consumers will have to trust individual journalists, more than their publications. For example, I trust some reporters at the Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Statesman, even though the publications have mostly lost my confidence.

The same goes for advocacy jounalists and bloggers, who come clean about their orientation and/or their funding. Some of them I trust; others I don’t, based not on their claims to be accurate but on their work. Do they admit mistakes and make corrections? Do they respond to questions or have a by-line and contact information at all? Do they seek opposing views? You have to decide whether you trust these types of journalists (and, obviously, I’m one of them).

Coffman, Doty, Woods offer reporters localized election-night Trump material

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Doty Tweets from Trump Rally 10-16The story of Trump’s impact on down-ballot races Colorado is unfolding in front of us in the strangest ways, with Colorado Republicans going every which way when it comes to the mogul.

A unique approach to Trump has been taken by Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, who’s running against Democrat Daniel Kagan in a Cherry Hills state-state race that Democrats must win to take control of the chamber.

Doty said in June that she’d support Trump, and later called Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump “spot on.”

But then she told the Aurora Sentinel last month that her vote is a “private decision.” The Denver Post reported most Oct. 23 that Doty’s not commenting on Trump.

But lo, Doty tweeted a photo Saturday from her apparent appearance at the Trump rally in Golden, without comment, as if to say, “Look! I’m still voting for Trump, but a secret is a secret.”

But in any case, on election night, reporters should reflect on what’s worked Trump-wise for Colorado Republicans in tight races. The Doty approach?

State Sen. Laura Woods’ I-Believe-Trump-Will-“Lead-our-Country-to-Greatness-Once-Again” strategy.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s strategery of dodge trump (December), then yes Trump (February), then maybe Trump (May and August), then no Trump (October). And possibly no one (October).

We’ll never know Trump’s exact impact in Colorado’s down-ballot races, but that shouldn’t stop reporters from having fun trying to figure it out anyway on Tuesday night, using our abundant local material.

Woods’ long ride on the Trump train could hand the state senate to the Dems

Monday, October 10th, 2016

State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) first tiptoed onto the Trump train in January, when she called Trump one of her two favorite presidential candidates.

Then Woods jumped fully on board in August, when she called Trump the “people’s candidate” and said “running away” from him wasn’t even a consideration.

In case you’re wondering whether Trump’s shocker room talk, from the Access Hollywood video, will push Woods out of the Trump train, you will want to know that Woods is apparently staying on board.

Over the weekend, Woods, whose race against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger will likely determine control of the state senate and with it state government, liked a Facebook post of Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction).

Scott, who’s a regional field coordinator for Trump’s campaign, wrote:

I have no intention of dropping my support for Trump. Here’s why.

I’m trying real hard to remember a perfect President or for that matter anyone that has run for political office.

As Alexander Haig once said, no one has a monopoly on virtue. I don’t agree with all of Trump’s positions or comments by any means. I support his economic plan, ending the war on fossil fuels, his stance on defense, immigration, the 2nd amendment and trade issues….

Scott’s Facebook post, which I obtained from a source, has “likes” from about 50 people, including Woods and Peggy Littleton, the failed GOP U.S. Senate primary candidate.

So it looks like Woods is still comfy in her seat on the Trump train. But will voters be comfortable with her in it?

In a news post for Rewire.news today, I discuss one advertisement linking Woods to Trump, and offer an interview with one expert who thinks the tactic could work, helping to push Woods out of office in November.

Woods likes Scott's Facebook post

Under-the-radar race gets TV coverage because… it’s so important

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

If you’re paying attention to politics in Colorado, you know that few people have any clue about the most important political contest in the state: the state senate race in Arvada/Westminster, where Republican Laura Woods is battling Democrat Rachel Zenzinger.

But the importance of the race apparently isn’t a good enough news hook for many reporters to give it the coverage it deserves, which is a lot.

So Fox 31 Denver’s Joe St. George gets our collective thanks for assembling a TV story about, as he labeled it, the state senate race in Arvada that could be “the most important race you’re not watching.” That was his hook! How great is that?

“At first glance this race doesn’t look very important,” says St. George in his piece, showing Woods and Zenzinger knocking on doors. “…the most important race you likely haven’t talked about….if Zenzinger wins this re-match, Dems may be in complete control [of state government]….

“While this race dominates the headlines,” narrates St. George, flashing images of Clinton and Trump. “This one in Arvada may end up impacting your life more come next year.”

Political insiders know this, yet coverage of the state’s most important race remains spotty (unless you get behind the paywall of the Colorado Statesman–or read the Colorado Independent), so few people know about it, much less where the candidates stand on the issues. St. George provided a bit of this info on the KDVR Fox 31 Denver website, listing, among others, these comparisons of the two candidates.

St. George reported:

In terms of the issues:

Abortion
Woods: Pro-life
Zenzinger: Pro-choice

Gun control
Woods: Against
Zenzinger: Supports common sense measures

Minimum wage increase
Woods: Against
Zenzinger: Supports

(For background, Woods is against all abortion, even for rape and incest, and, on guns, she’s against all criminal background checks prior to gun purchases.)

As we get closer to the election, more reporters will almost certainly inform voters just how important this race is. Good to see St. George leading the way.

More bad journalism news with a silver lining

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Local journalist Corey Hutchins reports in his “Colorado Local News and Media” newsletter (subscribe here) on the recent upsurge in ongoing shifts among Colorado political reporters:

“…Denver Post political reporter Joey Bunch announced he was leaving to join The Gazette in Colorado Springs, which is beefing up its statewide political profile. But then, Gazette political reporter Megan Schrader announced she was leaving The Gazette to join The Denver Post’s editorial board. This comes after Jim Trotter’s recent move from Rocky Mountain PBS to The Gazette, and Woody Paige also leaving The Denver Post for the Colorado Springs paper.

If that wasn’t enough, The Colorado Statesman, a POLITICO-like subscription-based trade journal, effectively laid off its editorial department— just 50 days out from the election. I’m told the paper slashed half its budget. Some of the writers will still write, but on a freelance basis, and they’ll focus more on the weekly print paper than on the website, which was frequently updated. Also on the cutting room floor in Colorado: four people at BizWest Media’s Fort Collins and Boulder offices got laid off and the publication will shift to a monthly print schedule.

Whew, head spinning? Let this stop you. Former Denver Post journalist Tina Griego has returned to Colorado after four years on the East Coast, and is now an editor at The Colorado Independent. Check out her first essay about the new, gentrified, displaced Denver she found upon her return.”

No one in their right mind likes Republican Larry Mizel’s “secret” ownership of the Statesman, but cutting veteran news reporters there is obviously bad and sad.

Usually bad journalism news has no silver lining, but this time the good news is Schader’s and Trotter’s moves and Griego’s return. Also, Post Editor Lee Ann Colaciappo informs me that the newspaper is advertising for a political writer and hopes to fill Bunch’s position soon. So let’s be thankful for that.

CORRECTION: An early version of this post incorrectly stated that The Post’s staff of political writers would be shrinking further due to Bunch’s departure. 

Republican TV star’s policy stances absent from media coverage

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

What does it take to score national media coverage even before you decide to run for a northwest Denver state house seat? Try being the star of ABC’s hit show, “The Bachelor.”

Bachelor star Ben Higgins has been stacking up the news coverage for his decision to run, as a Republican, for Colorado House District 4, which is an incredibly progressive northwest Denver district. I should know; I live there. Voters in HD 4 sent Democrat Dan Pabon into office with a 78 to 22 percent margin in 2014, and it’s hard to imagine his DUI arrest would turn voters to any Republican.

So how is Higgins possibly going to win in HD4? Is Higgins going to be some kind of anti-Republican Republican?

News coverage of the race didn’t illuminate his specific policy positions. So I called him with questions, and he had time to answer four on my list, leaving 21 queries for later, I hope.

This week, the biggest question for Republicans like Higgins is, will they vote for their party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump?

“How everybody votes is up to them,” said Higgins, declining to answer my question of whether he’d vote for Trump.

It’s a “good thing” that Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is from Indiana, said Higgins, who’s also from Indiana, but he doesn’t know enough about Pence, a right-wing conservative, to comment on him.

Higgins would not say whether he’s pro-choice.

“My goal as a representative will be to listen to people’s stories,” said Higgins. “We can get in the weeds and the gray areas all the time. When it comes to any social issue, my decisions we be based on my foundation, which is my faith, and I will listen to people’s stories.”

Colorado Statesman referred to Higgins’ Christian faith, but Higgins has not detailed how it would play into the mix in his policy decisions.  From the Statesman:

While producers didn’t emphasize it on the show’s 20th season, fans have flocked to Higgins in part because of his strong Christian faith, demonstrated by a prominent tattoo that has been visible in his shirtless appearances on the show and on social media. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed — Proverbs 16:34,” the tattoo reads. (It should read “Proverbs 16:3,” Higgins acknowledges, but the tattoo artist mistakenly added a “4.”)

The business analyst from Warsaw, Indiana, was considered “such a catch” that contestants competed for his affection more intensely than in any previous season, The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss told E! News in January.

Asked about gay marriage, Higgins said, “I am about everything that makes people happy. I believe love is love.”

In another Statesman piece June 2, Higgins was praised by well-known conservatives Jon Caldara, president of the right-leaning Independence Institute, and former GOP State Sen. John Andrews. For his part, Higgins was vague, according to the Statesman:

“My objective is sparking a movement to engage people in our community, working to find common ground and making a positive impact,” Higgins said, thanking Caldara and Andrews for their advice. “I know with the blessings God has given me, I can provide some of the leadership and support for such a movement.”

“My priority is giving back to my community and serving my neighbors. Since the conclusion of The Bachelor, I have been exploring how I can best be of service,” Higgins said in a statement. “I am definitely not a politician, but I have a lot to offer through my years in the financial services industry and, more importantly, my work in charitable and humanitarian organizations.”

A new reality-tv show, depicting the life of Higgins and his fiancee, is set to air in the Fall.

“In fact, this new TV program would provide the chance for me to talk directly to an expanded number of HD4 residents, rather than face the same obstacle experienced by most candidates — having their message ignored by the news media,” Higgins wrote, according to the Statesman.

 

 

Statesman freelancer calls on Mizel to come clean

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Colorado journalist David O. Williams has a great post in RealVail.com today, based on his decades of newspaper-industry experience up there, beautifully illustrating the dangers and weirdness of anonymous political journalism and calling on Republican mega-donor Larry Mizel, who’s been raising cash for Donald Trump, to come clean about whether he owns the Colorado Statesman.

I’ve shown that Mizel, in fact, controls the Statesman, which makes Williams’ post today all the more admirable, because Williams is a Statesman freelancer, whose last Statesman piece appeared in June 15. He’s written a handful of stories for the political weekly this year, one of them co-authored by John Tomasic.

Here’s part of what Williams wrote about Mizel in his post today:

“For me, the issue of ownership now raises the question of what Colorado political stories the Statesman is choosing to cover, and what stories the venerable political journal is ignoring.

And if you’re scratching the checks for a publication these days, why not just put your name on it and end the mystery, even if your agenda really is just about getting one person or a group of like-minded people elected to political office? Then let your readers judge whether your reporting is biased based on your agenda or fairly reflects the views of the opposition.”

You should take a moment to read Williams’ entire post, but it will be interesting to see how Williams is received by the Statesman, now that he’s challenged Mizel. I honestly wouldn’t expect any repercussions for Williams.

But wouldn’t it be nice if Mizel took this issue off the table by laying out his relationship with the Statesman?

Correction: an early version of this blog post indicated that Williams’ last Statesman article appeared in May. It was actually June 15.