Archive for the 'Colorado Statesman' Category

The trail of evidence that Mizel, Co-Chairs Trump fundraiser today, owns Colorado Statesman

Friday, July 1st, 2016

It’s no surprise that Colorado Republican kingmaker Larry Mizel is a co-chair of today’s $10,000-per-couple lunch for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump at the home of former Broncos’ coach Mike Shanahan.

But it inspired me to check out a tipster’s suggestion that I lay out a public trail of evidence showing that Mizel controls the Colorado Statesman, a political weekly that’s inserted as an ad in The Denver Post on Thursdays.

A search on the Colorado Secretary of State website reveals that the “trade name” of the Colorado Statesman is owned by “Mistro, LLC.”

The registered agent for Mistro is CVentures, Inc., and a simple Google search turns up numerous references to Larry Mizel as a director and chairman of the board of CVentures.

In 2008, Larry Mizel of “CVentures, Inc.,” gave $4,600 to Republican senatorial candidate Bob Schaffer, according to OpenSecrets.org. (So keep a close eye on the Statesman if Schaffer jumps into the U.S. Senate race next time.)

CVentures is located at 4350 S. Monaco St., Fifth Floor, which happens to be the corporate address of the giant homebuilding company, MDC Holdings. which Mizel founded in 1972 and for which he currently serves as director and chairman of the board.  MDC Holdings did not return a call from moi, if you can believe it.

A phone message at a number listed for CVentures on a Bloomberg “Company Overview of CVentures, Inc” was not returned either.

Why does this matter if Mizel owns the Statesman? Unlike me, who admits to a progressive orientation, the Statesman is claiming to be a traditional news outlet without any internal pull one way or the other. Playing it straight.

I trust some of the reporters at the Statesman and want to believe editor (and former GOP state legislator) Jared Wright when he says his goal is fairness, though anti-journalistic incidents, like one fill-in reporter doubling as a conservative political operative, have emerged. As well as other strangeness. And Wright doesn’t talk about Mizel.

So, to lesson concerns about Mizel hosting Trump fundraisers and to honor the journalistic ethics it aspires to reflect, the Statesman should tell its readers that it’s owned by one of the most powerful Republicans in Colorado. Better yet, give Mizel a space to explain his intentions with the Statesman. And let readers take it from there.

Special edition of the Colorado Statesman appears in Denver Post as advertising insert on Thursdays

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Colorado Statesman Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Jared Wright announced last week that a special edition of the Statesman will be inserted in The Denver Post on Thursdays.

Wright wrote in the Statesman June 9 that his newspaper is “launching a new sister publication, The Colorado Statesman ‘Worldwide Edition,’ which, thanks to our friends at The Denver Post, will be inserted in the Post every Thursday. In doing so, we are introducing thousands of Denver Post subscribers to what I believe is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets.”

This is not a journalistic partnership among friends, but a “business deal,” according to Post Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, who told me in an email that she doesn’t know the details.

“ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT” is printed on the bottom of the front page of today’s Statesman insert in The Post. There’s no other indication, throughout the 16-page insert, that the Statesman is an advertisement. As such, it’s kind of like the Sunday Parade Magazine insert, which is an ad, and in the same ballpark as outrageous news inserts, like fake news provided by the oil and gas industry, that aren’t labeled clearly enough as ads. Thankfully, the articles in these advertisements don’t appear in searches for news articles on The Post’s website or archive.

I’d like The Post to label the Statesman more clearly as an ad, but, in any case, it’s a creative way for the Statesman to reach an audience that’s literate and interested in politics, and may want to see more political news than The Post is offering these days in the wake of budget disasters. Journalism experiments are good, and you want to see the good journalism at the Statesman survive.

The downside: Readers could easily be confused that The Post is endorsing The Statesman’s content, which this week includes articles on the DA race, Bill Ritter, and the presidential race in Colorado.

Not that I don’t respect some of the journalists at the Statesman. I do. And Wright has assured me that he’s committed to journalistic standards (despite a troublesome conservative hiccup in news coverage I found last month) and despite anecdotal oddities that pop up every now and then in coverage.

But sources tell me the controlling owner is Republican donor Larry Mizel, whose photo is splashed across the cover of last week’s subscriber edition with a big headline “Annual Mizel Dinner, Bringing Denver Together.” Mizel is pictured with Denver’s Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock. Inside, a gushing article, written by Wright, says Mizel “is regularly recognized as being one of the most influential people in Denver,” but doesn’t mention that Mizel apparently owns the newspaper.

To my way of thinking, this type of coverage of the Mizel event, which is newsworthy to be sure, indicates a stealth coziness with Mizel that has potential to influence the political journalism at the weekly.

Wright did not return multiple calls and an email seeking comment for this article.

Still, I want to believe Wright when he writes in the Statesman that his newspaper’s new readers in The Post “will gain a better understanding of the people behind the politics — the same people that craft the laws and regulations impacting you and me at every corner we turn in our daily journeys, whether it’s driving on our morning commutes, working at our offices, shopping at the hardware store, buying groceries, paying a visit to the doctor for a checkup, getting a haircut, taking our children to school — you name it.”

But will Post readers benefit? Or be fooled?

 

Tea Party activist is now “executive editor” at the Colorado Statesman?

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

If all you knew about Jennifer Kerns is her job title of executive editor of the Colorado Statesman, you may have been surprised if you attended last Thursday’s meeting of the North Jeffco Tea Party, where she provided an evening lecture titled, “Brokered Brand: How the GOP continues to compromise its brand and lose elections… and what you can do about it.”

A couple days before her Jeffco speech, Kerns’ Tea-Party conservatism was blaring from KNUS 710-AM, where she subbed for arch conservative Dan Caplis:

Kerns: We can’t forget that we have a big senate race coming up here in 2016, the race against Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the more liberal members of the U.S. Senate, very similar to Mark Udall, except, in my view, there’s one big problem with Senator Bennet, and that is, whereas Mark Udall was concerned about one thing and one thing primarily, your uterus–That was his nickname at least on the campaign trail, given to him by The Denver Post.–Sen. Michael Bennet has many, many interests that he wants to control in your life. And to talk about that a little bit is the executive director of Advancing Colorado, Jonathan Lockwood. … I want to go through some of the attacks you’ve made on Sen. Michael Bennet and rightfully so, given his track record. Let’s start with his support of President Obama’s nuclear deal that gives Iran basically unfettered access to nuclear material… Great work you’re doing, Jonathan Lockwood….

This doesn’t sound like a journalist who, a couple weeks later, would be writing a front-page Statesman article about the Bennet race. But, yes, Kerns authored the April 13 piece, headlined “Bennet will have a fight, but how much of one is TBD.”

The headline was fair enough, but the article hit a low note by repeating an inaccurate conservative attack against Bennet:

“[Bennet’s] initial support of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention camps was an unpopular sell to many Colorado voters,” Kerns reported.

Bennet never supported transferring GITMO prisoners here, and Kerns was immediately challenged on Twitter by “MissingPundit,” who pointed out that Politifact found it untrue that Bennet supported bringing Gitmo detainees to Colorado.

In response, Kerns called Politifact a “lefty site,” again repeating a conservative talking point that ignores the fact that Politifact won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. Kerns tweeted that Politifact is “lefty” in the same way America Rising is “righty.” In reality, America Rising was established to expose the “truth about Democrats”, while the mission of Politifact is fact checking.

In any case, to the Statesman’s credit, the falsehood about Bennet was later removed from the digital version of the article, but, unfortunately, there was no indication that a correction was made.

Asked to discuss this error and her conservative activism, Kerns, who’s also a favorite of KNUS’ Peter Boyles, referred me to Statesman publisher Jared Wright.

First, Wright said, he’s obviously aware of Kerns’ conservative background, and he points to her bio, often printed in the newspaper and online, as proof that the newspaper is being transparent about her:

Jennifer Kerns is an executive editor at The Colorado Statesman. She is an accomplished conservative political writer and contributor to several national publications including The Blaze, The Washington Times, and The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal. She also served as the communications director and spokeswoman for the 2013 Colorado recall elections to defend Coloradans’ Second Amendment rights. [and California’s Proposition 8, BigMedia addition]

Calling the recall elections an effort “to defend Coloradans’ Second Amendment rights” is biased itself, but Wright said, “All of her stuff [online and print] goes through another editor and the fact-checking process. And there have been a number of times when we said, ‘You need to go get comments from the other side. You need to make sure the other side has its say.”

Wright said it’s “no excuse,” but his small newspaper has been hit with an overlapping staff crisis and vacations recently. A written correction should have been made on Kerns’ Bennet article, in line with the newspaper’s policy, and he promised to look into it.

The short staffing, he said, was partly the reason Kerns was writing the Bennet article in the first place, said Wright. The executive editor job is “more of an executive officer or an assistant to the editorial department,” he said. But Kerns will “pinch hit” as a reporter, as she did when writing the “Hot Sheet” feature when Wright, who usually writes the informative daily political briefing, was away recently.

Wright believes that advocates can make good journalists at a political newspaper like the Statesman, due to their insider contacts and deep political knowledge.

But, I told Wright, Kerns looks like a conservative operative at work at the Statesman, which, two sources say, is under the majority control of conservative power-broker Larry Mizel.

Wright said expects Kerns’ outside political work to end soon, though she’ll still have her opinions, and some of it was on tap before she started.

“I’m fully aware that Jennifer has her bent, probably more than anyone else on our staff,” said Wright, who’s a former GOP state lawmaker, now a registered independent.

“I want to have people who are opinionated,” said Wright, emphasizing his newspaper will be as transparent as possible. “It’s important to have journalists but also to have people who have been very active in politics, and of course the only place you are going to find those people is on one side of the aisle or the other. So as long as we have a balance of those people on the team, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Who’s the balance for Kerns, who started last month?

“You know, we’ve also got [Statesman Capitol Bureau Chief] John Tomasic,” Wright said. “John will tell you he’s very opinionated on the progressive side and has worked for progressive publications [like the Colorado Independent].”

Kerns has a track record as an operative; Tomasic is a journalist, I told Wright.

He agreed that the two staffers are not comparable “in the way they are currently operating.” He said he might add a writer with a progressive background to his staff. [If you know someone, please see if they want to apply.]

With respect to Tomasic, he said, “There are times when we have to say, ‘John, you have to go talk to the other side. John, sometimes correctly, doesn’t trust the other side, and doesn’t have those contacts. It’s just all of us, working as a team, and keeping each other on track.”

The question is, given what we’ve seen so far, can the team control Kerns?

Clarification: An early version of this post implied that the Statesman is begging for progressive job applicants. This is not what I meant.  Also, the incorrect statement that Tomasic wrote for progressive causes was removed.

A list of current (or possibly future) Trump supporters

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Update: On Facebook, U.S. Senate candidate Robert Blaha defends his decision to stand by Trump, if the magnate prevails.

Blaha: Although I may not get my “pick” as a Presidential candidate, I will support whoever the American people vote to be the Republican nominee. We cannot afford to further fracture our party, we must stand together as a Republican Party. We MUST stop our eighth grade locker room act of classless commentary and insane rhetoric.

How about this…. If we had the same intensity we are displaying in tearing ourselves apart in communicating Our ideas, Our Passions and Our Vision we would never have arrived at this pathetic dead-end.

Shame on those in power who not only allow the carnage, but, wield the hands that encourage it! This is a defining moment in Republican history, our own Gettysburg is now upon us !

Washington – you are a voice for the people, not the voice in spite of the people.

——————-

While we wait to hear whether Rep. Doug Lamborn, and Sen. Cory Gardner respond to 9News’ question about whether they’d support Trump, if he were the GOP nominee, it’s worth it for reporters to take a wider look at local support the magnate has among muckety-muck Republicans.

    • Former Rep. Spencer Swalm is an “out-of-the-closet” endorser of Trump.
    • State Sen. Laura Woods has said Trump is one of her two favorite prez candidates, but she’s backing Cruz.
    • Rep. Mike Coffman “refused to speculate” to 9News today on whether he’d back Trump if he’s the Republican nominee, but campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm told the Colorado Stateman Feb. 2, “Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary? The answer is obviously yes. And he believes strongly it is going to be Marco Rubio.”
    • These GOP U.S. Senate candidates also told the Statesman they’d back Trump as nominee: businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, Jack Graham, El Paso County Commissioner Peg Littleton, State Sen. Tim Neville, former Rep. Jon Keyser, activist Charlie Ehler, and Ryan Frazier.

Please send me any additons to this list.

But for the time being, these are the people Reporters can turn to for answers to the perplexing question of, Why would a respectable person support Trump? It’s a serious and urgent question that needs to be aired out locally, as 9News is trying to do with limited success.

Statesman celebrates 118th birthday with launch of new business model

Friday, February 5th, 2016

The Colorado Statesman celebrated its 118th birthday last night, with a party at the Governor’s Mansion carriage house and the launch of a new website and business model.

In a short speech at the event, Statesman Publisher Jared Wright praised his staff and noted that the newspaper now has more capitol reporters than any other publication in the state.

That’s part of reason, Wright hopes, that people will buy subscriptions to the publication, which run $13.25 per month ($159 per year) for print and digital together and $179 for a digital-access-only subscription. A 14-day trial is free.  This higher digital-only price incentivizes people to take the print-and-digital package, Wright says, because the print edition generates other ad revenue for the newspaper. Nonsubscribers now can only access AP and opinion pieces on the Statesman website, plus teasers about original content.

“We’re getting a lot of people who are paying $30 more not to receive the print paper,” said Wright. This is because they’re buying the digital-only subscription. So, if you buy a subscription, and you should, do the Statesman a favor and buy the print and digital package.

Is there any model for success using this approach?

“There are a number of publications that are models, most of them are in DC, but the one in the West is the Arizona Capitol Times,” Wright told me, who calls the Statesman “more of a trade journal than a traditional newspaper.”

Asked if there’s a date by which the publication must succeed or shut down, Wright said, “Things are looking good financially now, and will see how it goes.”

A 20-minute program at last night’s reception, moderated by 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, featured speeches by former Republican Gov. Bill Owens and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, both of whom gushed about importance of the Statesman our era of diminished journalism generally and the death of the Rocky Mountain News in particular.

“The great thing about the Statesman is it’s nonpartisan,” said Hickenlooper in a video presented at the event. “It’s pro-partisan, is phrase that somebody used [to describe it]. They want to encourage debate…. Overall, I wouldn’t trade a strong media in the capitol for anything. I think it’s essential…. Long live the Statesman.”

Larry Mizel, who sources say owns a controlling interest in the newspaper, was also at last night’s birthday event, chatting with GOP State Senate President Bill Cadman for a good bit. Mizel is a well-known moderate Republican, and his involvement, along with his hiring of Wright, a former GOP lawmaker, as publiusher, raised concerns among progressives about the newspaper’s commitment to being fair and accurate. But so far, I don’t see any ideological tilt in the Statesman’s coverage. Its reporting staff, at least the ones I know, are highly regarded by both Democrats and Republicans.

Last night’s crowded reception attracted a bipartisan crowd including Cadman, Rep. Justin Everett, Rep. Alec Garnett, Rep. Crisanta Duran, Sen. Rollie Heath, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, Rep. Dan Pabon, Rep. Angela Williams, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, former Sen. Ken Salazar, and flacks Owen Loftus and Andrew Zucker.

Update: I added additional attendees of the event.

 

 

What matter(s) did the state GOP refer to prosecutors?

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

In a Facebook post Monday, GOP activist Marilyn Marks called on a Republican Party committee to “due diligence to inform themselves of what matters the state party has referred to prosecutors.”

Responding to Monday’s article in the Colorado Statesman, stating that a “Republican Party spokesman said on Friday that the state party’s attorney had contacted prosecutors about ‘another matter,’ though he declined to specify what that was,” Marks wrote on Facebook:

Marks: The party says (in the article below) that they have referred “another matter” to prosecutors, implying that it is not the matter that they previously claimed they had referred to prosecutors apparently targeting Coffman, Tancredo and Mizel. Now House says that he NEVER THOUGHT he was being extorted or blackmailed. If that is true, did he go to prosecutors falsely alleging a crime?

I urge Executive Committee members to conduct appropriate due diligence to inform themselves of what matters the state party has referred to prosecutors.

In the comment thread, Marks observes that House is now saying he was not subject to extortion or blackmail, yet something had been reported to prosecutors.

Marks: I hope that someone on the ExComm or a reporter will try to get to the bottom of this, and what matters have been reported to the prosecutors. If [House] did not think it was blackmail, where is the apology to [Cynthia] Coffman, [Tom] Tancredo and Becky [Mizel]?

A good suggestion.

Statesman reports Governor’s plan to try again on budget tweak–but the road through Senate will be tough

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

In a great article summarizing the death of a bill, changing the definition of the “hospital provider fee” under TABOR and thus freeing up $167 million for transportation and education, the Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland reported that the Hickenlooper Administration hopes to bring the legislation back early next session possibly using a dramatic double-budget visual to spotlight the importance of the measure:

By next year, this will be more of an “on the ground” issue for legislators, [Hickenlooper budget director Henry] Sobanet said Tuesday. Once the budget request for 2016-17 comes out in November, people will start to see the impact of the hospital provider fee on available dollars. “It will be more real than an intellectual issue.”

Sobanet said the 2016-17 budget will be developed based on current law. However, he said he would work with the governor throughout the fall and decide if they would do a “budget A” and “budget B” that would show the impact of changing the provider fee.

Unfortunately, it looks like Hick’s dual budgets will have to be extremely persuasive to convince Republican Senate President Bill Cadman, whose party sent the bill to a kill committee after it passed the Democrat-controlled House on a party-line vote.

Goodland didn’t quote Cadman, but the GOP leader told KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kafer Tuesday that the hospital-provider fee was the number-one bad idea proposed by Democrats.

Kafer:  I’m so glad Republicans have the state senate…  What is the number one bad  idea you guys stopped?

Cadman: Oh my god. How much time do you have left? Let me put my list together and come back on. I will tell you though, my predecessor said, you’re better to be known for the things you defeated here, than the things that you pass. I’d hate to say it right now, but probably wouldbe  the hospital-provider fee, as written, which was a multi-hundred million dollar hit into the TABOR situation, that died actually just as I was calling in.

Listen to Cadman discuss his opposition to the Hosp Prov Fee on KNUS 5.5.15

Goodland reported on a committee hearing Tuesday, during which the hospital provider fee won the support of most everyone who testified, including business interests. Those opposed? Only entity: the ideological anti-tax Colorado Union of Taxpayers.

Goodland reported on what’s at stake:

Hickenlooper’s budget director, Henry Sobanet, told the committee without passage of HB 1389, three out of four general fund dollars available in 2016-17 will have to go to K-12 education, to keep the negative factor from growing. The negative factor is a budgetary device, first employed in 2010, to allow the state to cut funding to K-12. The total cut was about $1 billion; it was reduced by $100 million last year and will be reduced by $25 million in the recently passed 2015-16 budget.

If HB 1389 were to pass, Steadman told the committee, it would free up $167 million for appropriations in 2016-17. That could go for transportation projects or to reduce the negative factor. Otherwise, in 2016-17, the budget will be bleak. “This isn’t how the state’s budget priorities should go,” he said.

 

 

GOP State Chair race could have used a few more Ernest Lunings

Friday, March 13th, 2015

UPDATE: Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols offers an excellent closing analysis of the race here: “GOP Chairman Ryan Call facing revolt led by AG Cynthia Coffman.”

——

One thing is clear in the home stretch of the battle between Ryan Call and Steve House to be the next leader of Colorado’s Republican Party.

The race could have used a few more reporters like the Colorado Statesman‘s Ernest Luning covering it. As it is, “coverage” of the race has mostly been left to a bizarre and sometimes toxic shooting gallery of talk radio, Facebook, more Facebook, progressive bloggers (including outcasts like me), and whisperers and more whisperers. Honestly, this situation, set against a backdrop of intense GOP anger and madness, doesn’t serve Republicans or the rest of us.

The candidates have spoken directly to lots of the Republican activists who will be voting Saturday, which is good, but the race for Republican chair is an excellent example of what won’t be covered at all by real journalists as the profession fades. And we all lose from that.

Luning has provided the most even-handed and in-depth coverage of the Republican leadership race, and he’s out with a new story yesterday that included new allegations against Steve House, who’s challenging Ryan Call. Luning reports:

A group of former Adams County Republican officers circulated a letter on Wednesday slamming House for his tenure leading the county party and calling his character into question.

The letter, signed by former county chairs Patty McCoy and Clark Bolser, former vice chair Patty Sue Femrite and county finance chair Maria del Carman Guzman-Weese, alleged that House quit the post half way through his term in order to run for governor after promising he wouldn’t do just that. What’s more, the Adams County group charged, he left the county GOP in a shambles and it was Call who came to the rescue to rebuild it.

“Steve definitely has charisma and personal ambition, and he certainly knows how to give a good speech,” the group wrote. “He’s personally likeable. But his record of unfulfilled commitments, multiple broken promises, and overall poor performance as County Chairman left many of us in Adams County disappointed, extremely frustrated, and with unwelcome extra work during a critical time.”

Steve House spokesman Mike McAlpine denied the accusation, telling Luning it was dirty politics and, in fact, Adams County Republicans actually helped flip the Colorado Senate in 2014.

In any case, in addition to his reporting this flap, Luning nicely summarizes the House-Call contest as we head into Saturday morning, when the final vote will occur at Douglas County High School in Castle Rock.

 

Former GOP state rep. Jared Wright says he’ll “strive to be fair” as publisher of Colorado Statesman

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

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.

In a touching good-bye column Friday that conjured a fading era in local journalism, current publisher Jody Hope Strogoff announced her departure from the newspaper.

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.

Reporter puts representative’s eight-hour gun delay in proper context

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

The Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland offered up a good tidbit of reporting in an article published yesterday, in which she aired out State Rep. Patrick Neville’s complaint that his gun purchases were twice denied because he failed a background check.

But Goodland put the problem in context by also reporting that Neville’s denial, due to a clerical error, was resolved in fewer than eight hours.

Goodland also reported the testimony of Ron Sloan, Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation:

Sloan cited statistics showing that almost 6,000 sales and transfers were halted because the buyer failed the background check. Some of the checks failed, Sloan said, because the buyers had convictions for crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and drug offenses.

So, in a post last week, I was wrong to write that no gun was denied to anyone who was legally entitled to one. It appears, in Neville’s case, an eight-hour delay occurred, due to a clerical error.

Isolated mistakes like Neville’s will inevitably happen, but is it worth it to keep thousands of real criminals from buying guns? That’s the question that flows from the facts reported by the Statesman. Are we willing to tolerate Neville’s rare nnninconvenience to keep guns out of the hands of murderers?