Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

Plunkett to replace Carroll as editorial page editor at The Denver Post

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Rumors are swirling about which Denver Post reporters are accepting a buyout offer from the newspaper, which seeks 26 editorial staffers to volunteer to leave, even though, according to sources cited by Michael Roberts at Westword, The Post made $25 million last fiscal year.

One confirmed departure is Vincent Carroll, editorial page editor, who will be replaced by Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett.

Here’s an announcement of the move from The Post:

Politics editor Chuck Plunkett has been named The Denver Post
editorial page editor, effective July 2, where he will oversee print
and online content for the daily opinion page and the Sunday
Perspective section.

He will replace Vincent Carroll, who joined The Post in 2009 and
became editorial page editor in 2013. Carroll also spent 27 years at
the Rocky Mountain News, including 19 years as the editorial page
editor. His last day will be July 1. He plans to remain in Denver.

“It’s been my pleasure to work with Vincent Carroll over the past
couple of years. We appreciate the contribution he has made to The
Denver Post and wish him good fortune in his future endeavors,” said
chief executive and publisher Mac Tully. “And I look forward to
working with Chuck as Vincent’s successor. Chuck has a long and rich
history in journalism.”

A professional journalist for more than 20 years, Plunkett joined The
Post in 2003 after reporting for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the
Arkansas Democrat Gazette. He became editor of the politics desk in
2011.

“I am humbled — and also enormously thrilled — to be trusted with
this chance to continue The Post’s contribution to the Colorado
conversation,” Plunkett said.

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?

 

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.