Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

Keyser fails as media critic

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser is adopting the Douglas-Bruce style of media criticism.

You recall Bruce, who authored Colorado’s TABOR amendment, once kicked a newspaper photographer at the capitol. Keyser didn’t kick, but he threatened a bite or two when he told Denver7′s Marshall Zellinger:

Keyser: “He’s a great dog. He’s bigger than you are. He’s huge. He’s a big guy. Very protective.”

At last night’s Denver Post debate, Keyser continued to be a low-information media critic. After complimenting The Denver Post for its coverage of his campaign’s forged ballot-access signatures, including one from a dead person, Keyser said:

Keyser:  “But frankly, there are a lot of media outlets in this state that have really done lots of heavy lifting, carried the water, for liberals on this to disguise Michael Bennet’s record and get us talking about anything that doesn’t involve Michael Bennet…

There’s big problem here in the media, because, there’s a double standard that exists. You know, frankly, I don’t know of anybody jumping out of the bushes to ask Michael Bennet questions about Iran or his support of closing Guantanamo Bay…

If he continues to criticize the media, Keyser would do well to focus on very specfific facts and stay away from misniformation and dogs and threats. For example, no one needed to jump out of the bushes to ask Bennet about Iran, because he took questions about it.

If Keyser keeps going after reporters like he’s doing, he risks creeping into the media’s doghouse. And no candidate wants to be there.

Keyser coverage should focus on key point even Republican allies aren’t standing up for Keyser

Friday, May 13th, 2016

UPDATE: Everett and Holbert continue going after Keyser.

—————
Never afraid to withhold his opinion when it comes to U.S. Senate candiate Jon Keyser, Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) unleashed these Facebook posts this week:

Everett: “Sadly this is classic Keyser, saw this quite a few times in the year we served together in the legislature. Again, this guy is not ready for prime time…

A couple things here:
#1 – Again Keyser is not ready for prime time and his validity as a candidate will dog him for the rest of the campaign
#2 – Clearly the Secretary of State has a flawed review process; I may be working on legislation to address this next year
#3 – Go through the caucus and assembly process. Less expensive and you’ll KNOW if you’ve made the ballot.”

Everett was a supporter of Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), another GOP U.S. Senate candidate who failed to make the Republican GOP primary ballot.

But Everett’s attack highlights the absence of any GOP support for Keyser in the copious media coverage of his refusal to answer questions about forged signatures on his ballot-access petition.

What you do see are Republicans like Everett and Rep. Chris Holbert, who wrote on Facebook of Keyser:

Holbert: “Sweat, shuffle around nervously, evade the question, and blink a lot nervously. Nailed it!”

The GOP response is key, at least for now, because it’s Republicans who will determine whether Keyser faces Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November.

And the signs, beyond the attacks from Keyser’s expected GOP critics, aren’t looking good–as in there are literally no signs of GOP support for Keyser.

The Republican audience at yesterday’s debate at the Foothills Republican Club didn’t respond well to Keyser’s spin, as reported by The Denver Post’s John Frank:

The debate’s first four questions involved the petition issue, and Keyser refused to answer all of them.

“Here’s the important thing. I’m on the ballot, and I’m going to beat Michael Bennet,” Keyser said in a line he repeated five times in two minutes.

The response drew groans from the crowd and a shot from GOP rival Darryl Glenn who said the issue is important to the candidate’s integrity.

“If you are going to stand for the rule of law, if you are going to raise your hand and support the constitution, then you need to follow the law,” Glenn said to applause. “That’s the issue.”

So at this point, it looks like no one is supporting Keyser, not even any of Keyser’s allies. That’s a key point that journalists should document in more detail as we move forward.

 

Another layer of sadness added to depressing situation at Denver Post

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Westword’s Michael Roberts reported yesterday on The Denver Post’s announcement  that it plans to offer buyouts another 26 journalists:

If this reduction is realized, the Post’s newsroom will have lost more than a third of its workers in around a year.

As we reported in June 2015, there were approximately 165 newsroom members when the Post announced its previous buyout offer. By the end of that July, twenty people were gone — nineteen voluntarily, one via layoff.

The staff diminution has continued since then. The Denver Business Journal reports that there are about 130 people in the newsroom at present. Take 26 people away from that total and the Post’s newsroom will barely be over the century mark.

Can you imagine the sadness and frustration you’d feel if you worked at The Post right about now? It’s bad enough to watch from the outside.

Former Post Editor Greg Moore told me last month that the economic troubles expedited his own departure from the newspaper, and how can you blame him or any of the reporters who decide to take the buyout and depart now.

Still, today’s newspaper was full of admirable reporting on a wide range of topics. That pretty much says it all about what we have and what we’ll lose.

Journalists correctly see challenges faced by candidate who “needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive”

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

In its report on a Denver judge’s decision to allow U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the Republican primary ballot, after the Secretary of State had rejected his petitions, The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews reported:

Once considered a favorite in the race, Keyser must now overcome other challenges that are injecting questions into this campaign not least among them, the fact he needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive. [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s unclear just how much of a liability Keyser’s signature-gathering fiasco will be, but the reporters were correct to write that it raises questions–as yet unexplored in detail by journalists–about whether Keyser’s short stint on the campaign trail and in public service has shown him to be competent not only to run a campaign but to be an effective U.S. Senator, to replace Democrat Michael Bennet.

Keyser’s Republican colleague in the Colorado State House, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton, jumped on Facebook last week to write that Keyser “isn’t ready for prime time,” as evidenced by Keyer’s fundraing troubles, problematic petitions, and other bungles.

Everett: Not to say he won’t cure, suers gonna sue. But what’s interesting here is how close he was in Congressional District 1 (20 signatures), in heavily Republican CD5 (a mere 76 signatures), and CD 6 (75 signatures). If another candidate were to contest the validity of those Congressional Districts, he may be deemed insufficient in other areas. Not to mention his announcement claim that he had $3 million pledged to his campaign but only raised $200K, while contributing $100K of his own money. After serving with him for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time…

“After serving with [Keyser] for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time….”

If you couple that statement with the campaign lapses, you have a bunch of unanswered questions about Keyser’s basic competency that need to be addressed by reporters as the campiagn gears up.

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.

Post reporter stands out for asking predatory-lender about Colorado profits

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

A predatory-lending bill, allowing lenders to make more money on high-interest loans, passed a state senate committee yesterday, with supporters of the bill telling reporters that increased profits are necessary to keep personal-loan lenders in Colorado.

That’s the major argument for the bill. Specifically, backers told the Durango Herald that the one company offering such loans will leave Colorado if it’s not allowed to make millions more here.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch was the only reporter to ask Springleaf Holdings, Colorado’s only lender of personal loans (after a merger last year with its competitor), how the company was doing. I mean, that’s the key question.

Is it struggling to make ends meet, like many of the folks it lends money to are? People who pay the company 36 percent interest on a $1,000 loan as it is?

Bunch reported:

Phil Hitz, who represented Springleaf Holdings, acknowledged that the company is very profitable nationally and confirmed the 30 percent Colorado growth over the past four years.

Bunch apparently didn’t ask Hitz if Springleaf would leave Colorado if the bill didn’t pass, but all indications are that it would not.

Last year, when a similar predatory-lending bill was debated, the Colorado Attorney General’s office testified that access to such loans is not threatened under the current interest-rate structure.  Similar testimony was reportedly offered yesterday as well.

So the bill’s backers haven’t refuted the key point that lenders of personal loans are profitable and thriving. Instead, the market in Colorado is actually growing. There’s no indication that the lenders will walk away from Colorado and its money.

To be fair, Hitz told Bunch that Colorado is the company’s lowest yielding state, and other states help subsidize it.

But lowest yielding state compared to what, astronomically-earning ones? We know the company is “very profitable” nationally. So the fact that it’s doing well enough in Colorado is a signal that states should protect consumers, many of them low-income, and adopt Colorado’s humane regulatory framework.

That’s another conversation reporters might have with Hitz.

Denver Post deceives subscribers with stealth fees for advertising and other inserts

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

The Denver Post is shortening the length of subscriptions with a deceptive tactic, allowing the newspaper to collect more money by forcing subscribers to renew earlier than they might have expected when they signed up.

The ploy is to charge subscribers $3 for four newspaper inserts delivered throughout the year, unless subscribers, many of whom are elderly and likely struggle to track life’s details, proactively opt out of receiving the newspaper inserts. Three of the supplements are advertising inserts and one is a Broncos bonus, presumably filled with pages and pages about the football team.

Unless subscribers know about the inserts and assert, at the time of their subscription renewal, that they don’t want them, then the length of their subscriptions are reduced by $12 worth of deliveries, which is a bit less than a month. That’s a lot of money for the newspaper, if you multiply it by hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

In another effort to make more money on subscriptions, The Post has stopped giving subscribers credit for vacation stops. If you halted delivery of your newspaper during your vacation in the past, you used to be able to add extra days to your subscription. Now you can’t.

This isn’t going over well with some subscribers, like my mother-in-law, who cancelled her subscription recently. She follows life’s details to a fault, so the shortened subscription didn’t escape her attention or her temper. She’s done with The Post.

When The Post called me to renew my own subscription, I confirmed all of this from the telephone saleswoman.

But I cannot provide an official comment or verification from The Post because, unfortunately, multiple calls and emails over the last few months to Circulation Director Bill Reynolds and Publisher Mac Tully were not returned. Before he left the newspaper, former Post Editor Greg Moore referred me to them.

I think the vacation-stop policy makes sense.

But charging for advertising supplements and pages full of minutia about the Broncos that should be part of your subscription anyway? That’s sleazy. And it will drive away customers.

Colorado may play role in possible Trump challenge at national GOP convention

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Republican Dolnald Trump is hopping mad at Colorado Republicans:

“The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!” Trump posted on Twitter.

In his story about the comments, The Denver Post’s John Frank reported:

The problems with Trump’s ballots [as Frank put it, "riddled with errors"] — and the candidate’s comments — raise questions about whether Colorado will figure prominently into a challenge at the national convention about the state’s delegates.

Another issue that could lead to a challenge by Trump is the fact that Trump actually won at least one straw poll vote earlier this year, and these results could be binding.

National Republican rules state that if Colorado held a straw poll, delegates would be bound to the candidate for whom they voted.

That’s one reason Colorado Republicans decided against having a straw poll–in addition to concerns that too many people would show up.

But some Colorado precincts held straw polls anyway, arguably flouting the rules, calling the straw-poll votes symbolic.

But straw polls are symbolic by definition. And holding them could have violated GOP rules.

Trump didn’t win all of the straw polls held in Colorado, but he won at least one of them, in Adams County, according to a report in The Denver Post.

They key question is, did any of Trump’s delegates in Adams County or elsewhere go on to be selected to attend the the national GOP convention–even if they’re now saying they are like Cruz. If so, they may actually be bound to Trump.

So Trump’s possible challenge at the natioal convention could also include questions about delegates he may have won due to the symbolic straw-poll process.

This post was updated at around 11 am April 11.

Exit interview: Greg Moore leaves The Denver Post after 14 years as editor

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Greg Moore, who leaves The Denver Post April 1 after 14 years as editor, answered a few questions this week via email about his future, his tenure at The Post, and the state of Colorado journalism.

Moore, who was managing editor of the Boston Globe before being recruited to serve as Post editor in 2002, announced his retirement March 15, telling his staff that it was time for “new challenges.” He’s said he intends to remain in Denver.

Under his leadership, the newspaper won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Aurora theater shooting. More impressive to me is the fact that The Post continued to produce a stream of high quality journalism in recent years, despite unprecedented budget cuts, layoffs, and general shrinkage.

(See similar interviews with departing journalists here.)

Do you think your next challenge will be related to journalism?

I do not rule out anything, but I am open to new possibilities outside of journalism. I have been in the business almost exactly 40 years. When I was 21, I told myself I would give 40 years to the business and I did. I loved it and it loved me back. Now I am looking for something else. I am interested in some strategy firms, non profits that do God’s work, corporate boards that align with my interests in journalism and diversity and are just killing it and need different perspectives, and I am very interested in education reform. But one of the reasons I needed to release from The Post was to open myself to all kinds of possibilities for the next chapter. I am wide open. The chief criterion is whatever I do has to be meaningful and fulfilling.

What do you think you’ll miss most about being The Post’s editor? The least?

What I will miss the most is the power I had to get any story done at a high level with the staff we had. I loved story identification and generation. Journalism is the best and most direct way to affect change in any community and you get addicted to that.

The least: That’s easy. I won’t miss laying off people and cutting the paper and scope of our journalism. I know it is a reality of the business today and I think I did it with my team about as well as you can do it and remain an ambitious enterprise. But it wears you down and is distracting because the end game is constantly shifting based on economic outlook. It was just time to explore other ways to use my brain.

What are a couple of your best moments at The Post? And a decision or situation you regret?

Well, winning the Pulitzer for Aurora is right up there. It was such a terrible tragedy, and the community was counting on us to help make sense of what happened. There were so many heroes and there were other big stories that year, including the Newtown school kid murders. So winning it was huge. I was so happy for our hard working, innovative staff that just put everything into reporting, photographing, editing and presenting the news smartly and sensitively.

Our coverage of the Democratic National Convention was the other. Not only was it historic with the nomination of the first black president, but all eyes were on the Denver Post and we elevated. I also think we helped show the city what it could be through our coverage: Sophisticated, lively, diverse and more than a way station between Chicago and LA. The city was electric every night during the convention. We’ll never go back from that as a city or a news organization.

Regrets: That I lost my hair doing this job! Seriously, not to be Trumptonian, but I don’t have regrets because I tried to be in the moment of the stories we covered, offering ideas and criticisms in real time. If we missed or botched something it wasn’t for lack of trying to be better. But if I had to pick something, we could have been better covering issues of race. Despite our progressive political history, there are far too many monolithic settings in this city and we could have done more to help change that, I think.

Resources aside, what are the strengths and weaknesses of political journalism, as practiced in Colorado, not just by The Post but by political journalists as a group in Colorado? In other words, how would you assess the state of political journalism in Colorado now?

Well, I think some pretty good political journalists have come out of Colorado and what is unusual is that a number of them were TV journalists. Because we are the state capital, there is some good stuff done here. The investigative work by TV and now bloggers is pretty impressive, honestly. Overall, I think the coverage is good. But in general, the environment for journalists is really shitty. You have to fight for everything. You can’t get a document without a lawsuit or paying exorbitant fees. Even when you win a lawsuit, the next time the situation comes up it’s like a brand new fight. That type of struggle wears you down and gets distracting. And you can lose focus. This is the least corrupt place I have lived in but I don’t buy that it is absent of corruption and malfeasance, misfeasance, whatever. I don’t think reporters here are guilty of cozying up to power because there really is not much access even if you wanted it. That alone should make us all even more aggressive. My charge to fellow journalists would be to ratchet up the pressure.

If The Post’s economic situation had been easier, would you have stayed longer?

Maybe another year, possibly. But 14 years is a heck of a run and you put the success we had on top of that and it really was time to drop the mike and move out of the way. Honestly, we creatively navigated the economic headwinds the last six to eight years. And we demonstrated we had developed a deep bench of talent and created opportunities for the folks on it. I was proud of that. But I have always believed that everything has a season and it was just time. I started with a big story my first day with the Hayman Fire and I had the chance to walk off with stupendous coverage of a Denver Super Bowl victory. So I did. And the Post is in good hands with people whose values I know and respect. It doesn’t get better than that.

Any other comments?

I love Denver and Colorado, my children were born here and I want to do other important things in the community. Lastly, I love The Post and I hope people are starting to realize how important it is to have a robust, independent news operation as part of the community fabric. Otherwise, you risk becoming Flint, Michigan with a water crisis no one told you about. That means rolling up your sleeves and figuring out smart ways to support independent news gathering. Make demands for quality and solid customer service but fight for and fund independent fact gathering. It is the key to our democracy and we need that more than ever now.

Denver Post editor’s resignation likely another sign of paper’s spiral downward

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Denver Post editor Greg Moore’s resignation today is probably yet another depressing sign that the newspaper faces serious troubles and decline.

If things had been going well, or even stabalizing, at The Post, which faces a broken business model, Moore wouldn’t be walking away–unless there’s some personal reasons that aren’t widely known right now. It sounds like more cuts are on the way.

The unprecedented budget cuts, layoffs, and other shrinkage and reductions have to take an incredible toll on the guy at the top, no matter how thick-skinned.

That’s not what Moore had to say in his resignation statement, as quoted in The Post, but I don’t see much optimism floating up between the lines.

“The Denver Post will continue its outstanding work,” he said. “There is strong and stable leadership in place. But it’s time for a fresh voice to lead from the corner office. After 14 years, I’ve decided it’s time for new challenges and I will step down as editor of this great newspaper.”

Publisher Mac Tully said a national search for Moore’s replacement will begin soon. In the interim, news director Lee Ann Colacioppo will lead the newsrooom. She also is a candidate for the job.

Moore has his detractors, but, bottom-line, the newspaper under his leadership still managed to still produce quality journalism, despite the industry decline. Of course, it could be better. But you can bet we’ll miss today’s Denver Post next year, when things will likely be worse.