Archive for the 'Fox 31 Denver' Category

What’s next for reporters covering Cory Gardner’s personhood hypocrisy?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols tried hard last week to extract an explanation from senatorial candidate Cory Gardner for his decision to withdraw from “personhood” legislation at the state level but, at the same time, to remain a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, and some forms of birth control.

So what else could a reporter ask Gardner at this point?

We know he thinks there’s “no federal personhood bill,” because he said it four times to Stokols and once previously to 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman.

So what does Gardner think the bill aims to do? If it’s not personhood, what is it?

Gardner discussed this question at least twice: Factcheck.org reported last month that “Gardner’s campaign says he backed the [state and federal] proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception.”

Later, contradicting this, Gardner told Rittiman that the “[Life at Conception Act] says life begins at conception.” Gardner’s spokespeople have said the same thing, saying it won’t ban contraception, but they did not mention abortion.

Abortion

Expanding on Factcheck.org’s article, reporters should discuss with Gardner the ramifications of his co-sponsorship of a personhood-style abortion ban. All abortion, even for rape and incest, would be banned. Thus, under the Life at Conception Act, a teenager raped by her father would not have the option of getting an abortion.

Contraception

Gardner has said the Life at Conception Act doesn’t ban contraception. In fact, he told Stokols, “I do not support legislation that would ban birth control. That’s crazy! I would not support that.”

Gardner did not waiver or offer further explanation, even after Stokols told him directly about one of  Factcheck.org’s conclusions: “Gardner says he has changed his mind and no longer supports the Colorado initiative, precisely because it could ban common forms of birth control. But he still backs a federal personhood bill, which contains the same language that would make a ban of some contraception a possibility.”

Reporters who question Gardner should avoid asking him about his position on “contraception” or “birth control” generally, because these words means different things to different people, as you can read here.

Instead, the question is, Does Gardner support specific types of contraception, like Plan B and IUDs. Plan B and IUDs could be banned under the Life at Conception Act because they threaten or destroy fertilized eggs (zygotes), which would gain full legal rights, the same ones you and I have, if the federal personhood bill became law.

In vitro fertilization

Factcheck.org pointed out that personhood measures, like the federal personhood bill, threaten “in vitro fertilization, which often involve creating more than one embryo in an effort to help a woman conceive — the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has been against personhood initiatives.” What’s Gardner’s stance on this issue, given his backing of the Life at Conception Act.

Plenty to ask.

So Stokols’ intense interview with Gardner leaves plenty of questions unanswered, and they go beyond the ones from Stokols that Gardner dodged or refused to answer factually.

You won’t fall asleep during this interview on a local public-affairs TV show

Monday, September 29th, 2014

In an explosive interview broadcast Sunday, Republican senatorial candidate Cory Gardner told Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols four times that a federal “personhood” bill does not exist, even though Gardner cosponsored such a bill just last year.

But Stokols repeatedly challenged Gardner, first saying, “Cory, the people who wrote that bill, Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Broun of Georgia, they say-Personhood USA says-that that is what the Life at Conception Act is.”

Gardner tried to change the topic, but Stokols would have none of it, interrupting Gardner and saying, “The facts are–”

Gardner quickly interrupted Stokols, and said, “No, the facts are, Eli, that there is no federal personhood bill. There is no federal personhood bill. I think what you’re seeing, Eli, is an effort by Sen. Udall to run away from his record on energy, to run away from his failed record on the economy. Here is a man–”

Stokols told Gardner he’d “grill” Udall next week on his show, but for now, he wanted to know about the federal personhood bill, which aims to ban abortion, even for rape, and some forms of birth control.

“The bill that your name is on defines personhood as beginning at the moment of fertilization,” Stokols told Gardner. “Many think it has the potential to ban a number of forms of birth control. Factcheck.org says that you still support a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control as the state measure that you reject on the same grounds.”

“I do not support legislation that would ban birth control. That’s crazy! I would not support that. I do not support efforts that would ban birth control… Mark Udall is running away from his record and trying to distract the voters with things he would like people believe that simply aren’t true.”

“He’s not the only one who sees the Life at Conception Act as a personhood bill,” Stokols told Gardner. “The sponsors do. Personhood USA does. ..You are sitting here telling me that a bill that everyone says is basically a personhood bill at the federal level, you’re telling me it’s not?”

Sparks flew a while longer, but Gardner got the final utterance before a commercial break.

“There is no federal personhood bill,” Gardner said, never saying what he thinks Life at Conception Act actually is.

Stokols tried but failed to clarify Coffman’s immigration positions

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

In interviews aired over the weekend, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols tried hard to clarify Rep. Mike Coffman’s squirrelly positions on immigration reform, but unfortunately, after you watch the interviews, you’re left scratching your head on key points.

For example, during Stokols’ Sunday show, #CoPolitics from the Source, Coffman reiterated his opposition to President Obama’s executive order allowing young undocumented immigrants, brought here illegally as children, to defer deportation for at least two years.

“I certainly don’t support it being done by executive order,” Coffman told Stokols, which makes sense because Coffman voted to defund Obama’s order this summer. “I believe it should be done legislatively.”

So you have to assume that, as of now, in the absence of DACA legislation, Coffman believes the dreamers should be deported.

Yet, in a news piece aired last night, Stokols also has video of Coffman saying he supports deferred deportations (without saying he doesn’t support them). A young man, who identified himself as a Dreamer, asks Coffman why he voted to defund Obama’s program to defer deportations.

“I thought we had an opportunity to make it permanent,” Coffman told the young man, neglecting to add he opposes Obama’s executive order.

Putting on his immigration happy face, Coffman also told Stokols that he supports granting young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship through “higher education”

This is a significant departure from his previous position, which granted citizenship to Dreamers only through military service.

“I certainly support a path [to citizenship] for some of the young people that do higher education and do military service,” Coffman said.

http://kdvr.com/2014/08/31/rep-mike-coffmans-new-district/#ooid=xyZ2MwcDoxsreHde4B1yAh-onItfALRY

Stokols tried to understand the heart of Coffman’s broader immigration views when he asked, “When you say a step-by-step path, I’ve heard you use that phrase a lot lately, what does that mean? ”

Coffman replied by saying that he doesn’t like “big-sweeping” bill like Obamacare, and he said he doesn’t support a path to citizenship for adults who “broke the law.” He reiterated his support for work visas with no citizenship path, which would formally create a working underclass in America.

In explaining his immigration shifts, Coffman told Stokols “there needs to be more districts” like his, where competitive elections force politicians not to get stuck in ideological straight jackets, but earlier this year Coffman implied that the judge who okayed Coffman’s district was swayed by his affiliation with the Democratic party–though it turned out the judge wasn’t even a registered Democrat.

“I think it’s made me a better Congressman,” Coffman told Stokols, who still has his work cut out for him to get Coffman to explain the precise positions that him the better Congressman he says he is.

Media omission: how Coffman’s obstructionism in Congress has hurt vets

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

In responding to media reports, led by the Aurora Sentinel, that he voted against funds to reduce delays at Veterans Administration hospitals, Rep. Mike Coffman told reporters in a statement that he opposed the legislation because it cut cost-of-living increases for some military retirees.

But as Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols pointed out, Coffman didn’t mention anything about veterans when he cast his vote against the Murray-Ryan compromise spending bill, which contained the increased funds for the VA. Coffman issued a statement at the time saying he was opposed to breaking Pentagon spending caps.

Local media reports haven’t pointed out what else was at stake in the omnibus spending bill: the continued operation of the federal government. Coffman’s vote against this compromise spending legislation was not only a vote against VA hospitals but also a vote for shutting down the government. And as everyone who was watching at the time knows, this was the overarching concern, and Coffman apparently hasn’t been asked about how his vote for the shutdown affected veterans.

By voting for a shutdown, Coffman reduced or jeopardized a slew of veterans benefits. For example, the reviews of benefit claims of thousands of veterans were delayed; over 7,500 Veterans Benefits Administration employees were furloughed; and compensation to millions of veterans and pension benefits to hundreds of thousands of veterans and their spouses were threatened. And beyond the VA, veterans rely on lots of services like HUD housing and Labor Department training, which were affected.

Also left out of media coverage were Coffman’s votes against increased VA funding in 2009 and 2011. These large bills would have provided nearly $200 million ($119 million in 2009 and $42 million in 2011) for the VA hospital in Aurora. Coffman has been upset at the delays in constructing this hospital, even though he’s opposed funding for it in the years prior to his own criticism of mismanagement.

What’s been left out of the VA coverage, in the big picture, is a discussion of how GOP obstructionism in Congress, particularly in the House and with the support of Coffman, has exacerbated the problems for veterans.

 

Media coverage of Coffman’s attacks on Romanoff’s 2006 compromise immigration laws should note Coffman’s support of hard-line ballot initiative

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols reported yesterday that Rep. Mike Coffman has launched a web ad attcking his Democratic opponent, Andrew Romanoff, for supporting tough immigration legislation in 2006.

But Stokols omitted the fact that Romanoff’s compromise legislation came in response to a hard-line immigration ballot initiative that was endorsed by Coffman. The Coffman-backed initiative, called Defend Colorado Now, would have stopped Colorado from providing services to all undocumented immigrants, even children. One of the 2006 Romanoff-backed laws, for example  (HB-1023), specifically allowed children 18-years or younger to receive state services, like vaccinations.

Stokols piece fails to note the transparent hypocrisy of Coffman attacking Romanoff passing immigration laws, even though Coffman favored a more extreme anti-immigrant ballot initiative, which triggered the need for the compromise laws pushed by Romanoff. And Coffman’s measure would have been enshrined in the state Constitution, if it passed, which seemed likely at the time.

Stokols should have included a comment (or a no comment) by Coffman addressing his 2006 support of the extreme Defend Colorado Now initiative.

Coffman’s web ad spotlights a 2010 quote from Democratic State Sen. Jesse Ulibarri, who’s now backing Romanoff, criticizing Romanoff for the laws passed during the 2006 special session. In his piece yesterday, Stokols reports Ulibarri’s current thinking on the 2006 special session:

Ulibarri also told FOX31 Denver that he now has a better understanding, thanks in part to being a state lawmaker himself, of Romanoff’s choice back in 2006 than he did when he penned the 2010 Op-Ed, noting that the legislation passed was an effort to avoid a ballot measure that would have made it a felony for undocumented immigrants to have access to public services, including emergency room care, in the event of a health emergency.

“As Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives at the time, Andrew was faced with the choice of doing nothing and allowing undocumented children and many Coloradans to be denied emergency room care or finding an option to prevent an incredibly heinous law from being enshrined in our Constitution,” Ulibarri said.

“Speaker Romanoff fought to keep this measure off of the ballot by brokering a compromise during the special legislative session. This compromise made Colorado law consistent with federal law that denied certain public services to undocumented immigrants with exceptions for children, public health and safety. And while I don’t agree with the bills that were passed, I understand why the deal was made.”

That’s good context on Coffman’s ad. Just as important would have been an explanation from Coffman on why he supported the proposed constitutional amendment that Romanoff worked with Republican Gov. Bill Owens and others to stop.

Fox 31 Denver takes new public-policy show out of the “stuffy confines” of a TV studio

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Local TV public affairs shows are usually shot deep inside TV stations, where the light of day and the reality of everyday life can be hard to find.

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols has dispensed of this problem by staging his new public affairs TV program at The Source, which is a collection of restaurants and food markets with a fresh and local thread.

“We’re trying to do a show about local issues, local politics, local ideas,” Stokols told me. “We want it to be a public conversation. It felt right to locate that conversation in a public space outside the stuffy confines of a TV studio. We want the show to be accessible and more appealing than people in a studio.”

With sides of local beef dangling behind him, Stokols will give newsmakers and others a chance to talk about public policy “outside of the two-minute construct of a TV package.” Sometimes he’ll take the show further on the road, possibly for debates or other relevant events. (Above, Stokols interviews Rep. Ed Perlmutter at The Source.)

“I don’t know that there’s a need for another show with three of four people sitting around talking about the news of the week,” said Stokols, adding that Denver already has a good one on Channel 12.  His half-hour weekly show, which debuts Sunday at 9 a.m. on Fox 31 and is called #COPolitics from the Source, might have that format sometimes, he says, but “what we’ll do more often is take a policy area, bring in some people, and even if it’s not politics per se, have them engage.”

#COPolitics is a Twitter hashtag followed by people interested in Colorado politics, and using #COPolitics in the title is a signal that the show is “an extension of the conversation that takes place on that Twitter feed,” says Stokols, who, among other journalistic activities, is a weekend anchor on Fox 31.

Stokols credits KDVR Fox 31 General Manager Peter Maroney for pushing the idea of a new public affairs show, but convincing the station to get behind an off-site concept took some work, especially because there’s no sponsorship dollars in it for KDVR. But the bosses came around, and station staff stepped up, says Stokols.

Having dumped Zappolo’s People, with the departure of longtime anchor Ron Zappolo, Fox 31 is now jumping into a surprisingly crowded market of local television public-affairs programs, mostly on public television, but also on commercial competitor 9News, which has just re-committed to a monthly show called Balance of Power. The latest installment, airing Saturday at 6 p.m. on 9News and 9:30 p.m. on channel 20, features a debate on fracking between Rep. Jared Polis and oil-and-gas-industry leader Tisha Schuller.

“This is a notoriously difficult area of programming, and it’s only getting harder because of the expanding media landscape, with newspapers jumping in, streaming content available from different providers, and the bread-butter-guys who have been around for a long time,” said 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, who moderates Balance of Power, along with 9News Anchor Kyle Clark.  “On the other hand, there’s a greater demand for original content. And media companies are realizing that too.”

The 9News show  will most often focus on one topic, broken down into segments, including at least a few minutes of analysis by “political experts” Ryan Frazier (Republican) and James Mejia (Democrat), says Rittiman, adding that 9News is trying hard to make the show look good and keep it “interesting, entertaining, and informative at the same time.”

9News has officially retired the public affairs program YourShow, which solicited topics and questions from viewers and was launched by former political reporter Adam Schrager. “The concept of YourShow was ahead of its time but quickly, with social media, has become part of what we do every day, reaching out to people and making sure they can have their say and get their questions in.” said Rittiman. “That’s worked its way into all aspects of news coverage.”

Public affairs shows on public television include: KBDI Channel 12′s Colorado Inside Out (Hosted by Dominic Dezzutti), KRMA Channel 6′s Colorado State of Mind (Hosted by Cynthia Hessin), Aurora municipal TV Channel 8′s Dateline Aurora, and the Independence Institute’s Devils Advocate (which ludicrously presents libertarian Jon Caldara as moderator).

The Denver Post produces a sporadic video interview show called Spot Live, which is currently being revamped from a square-off between pundits, moderated by a reporter, to one-on-one interviews with newsmakers.

Of the non-commercial TV shows, my favorite is still Colorado Inside Out, even though I have to excuse myself and barf on occasion, which is proof I don’t fall asleep as I watch. In spite of the simple talking-heads format, the show doesn’t bog down as it moves through the views of regular and rotating panelists.

“We all know how much money will be coming into Colorado for issues and campaigns,” said Colorado Inside Out host and producer Dezzutti via email. “Most of that money is spent on ads that are not meant to educate voters, but rather persuade by any means necessary. The only way Colorado voters can cut through the fog of incessant attack ads is to look to quality public affairs programs that are willing to go beyond the 30 second sound bite. Fox31’s new show affirms that need and shows that Colorado voters are ready for more alternatives to the constant 30 second ad bombardment. As the producer and host of Colorado Inside Out, now in its 22nd season, we are excited that another Denver TV station is stepping up and providing this kind of critical analysis that Colorado voters need and deserve.”

Colorado Inside Out’s panelists have a sense of humor, which goes a long way.

That’s a quality Fox 31′s Stokols admires in two of his favorite interviewers CNN’s Jake Tapper and CBS’ Bob Schieffer.

“Those  guys to me don’t take themselves too seriously,” says Stokols. “They take their job very seriously. They don’t take themselves quite as seriously. And that’s the way I try to approach it. When I anchor the news, I do it with a smirk on my face. Journalism is very important, but you don’t have to be a pompous fake to get your point across.”

That is, as long as anyone is watching.

Reporters shouldn’t tolerate Coffman’s immigration platitutes anymore

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols reported this morning that Rep. Mike Coffman will stage a press conference today calling on his Republican colleagues in the House to pass the Enlist Act, which would offer a young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship through military service.

News coverage about Coffman’s bill, which has been rejected by Republican leadership, will naturally touch on broader immigration reform, as Stokols’ piece did this morning, quoting Coffman thusly:

“There’s got to be a path down the middle,” Coffman told FOX31 Denver in an interview last week. “Let’s secure our borders, enforce our laws, let’s have immigration policies that are going to grow the economy, but let’s also be compassionate and keep families together.”

Reporters need to stop letting Coffman throw out these platitudes without asking him, what’s his specific plan? He doesn’t support the bipartisan immigration bill passed by 68 Senators, so Coffman is siding with 32 Republican opponents, led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. What’s Coffman’s specific problem with the Senate bill? What amendment(s) would he offer to fix it, to try to move it out of the House, where it’s stalled.

In his piece this morning, Stokols quoted the spokesperson for Coffman’s Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff, who pointed out that Coffman opposes the Senate immigration bill.

That’s a good start, contrasting Romanoff’s position in favor of the Senate immigration bill to Coffman’s opposition to it. That’s something concrete for confused observers to latch onto. But it’s not enough.

We need to know what Coffman’s broader immigration proposal is, and if he can’t produce one, then it’s time for reporters to say, as a factual matter, that Coffman has no comprehensive immigration proposal, despite his rhetoric about favoring one.

How should a raped woman get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Eli Stokols reports that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is defending his co-sponsorship of a 2007 bill that would have banned doctors from performing an abortion for rape and incest.

Stokols reports:

When he was a state lawmaker, Gardner signed onto Senate Bill 143 as a co-sponsor — he did not carry the bill himself, his campaign points out.

The measure would have outlawed all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.”

Gardner’s campaign pushes back: “the bill only prohibited the performing of an abortion (with an exception for life of the mother). It specifically exempted women from prosecution: ‘A pregnant mother upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted shall not be guilty of violating this section’.”

Stokols did not tell us how Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

Garnder’s push back is correct. His bill did not make it a felony for women to get back-alley abortions. But a doctor would face felony charges.

So Stokols or another reporter should find out where Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion–and from whom?

Would a more tightly-worded personhood amendment be ok with Coffman? And other questions left hanging after Coffman’s personhood shift

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Media outlets are reporting that Rep. Mike Coffman has joined  Rep. Cory Gardner in withdrawing his support of the personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, but, strangely, reporters aren’t asking Coffman (or Gardner) the logical follow-up question: What is your position on abortion?

Does Coffman still oppose abortion, even in the case of rape and incest? If he still believes life begins at conception, does he still think the government should somehow protect human “life” from fertilized-egg onwards? Does he think women should be given the power to make this choice for themselves, if they are pregnant? Does he oppose still Roe V. Wade? Does he believe a woman has the right to make all decisions about her own body?

Coffman himself has yet to make a statement about his alleged reversal on personhood, leaving the dirty work to his spokesperson, but Coffman’s record, even if you exclude his support for personhood, clearly reflects a true believer’s opposition to abortion

For example, Coffman once wrote the following letter to then KHOW radio-host Dan Caplis, to clear up any possible confusion about his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest:

Dan,

First of all, thanks so much for your help with my campaign and for inviting me on your show. During the debate, Craig Silverman was questioning me on the issue of abortion. My response was focused on arguing that Roe v Wade was bad law. During that exchange, Craig asked me about the issue of rape and incest. Apparently, my answer came across as supporting abortions under a rape and incest exception. I absolutely do not believe in that.

Dan, I would deeply appreciate it if, during your show, you could state that I wanted to make sure that my position was clear, unequivocally, that I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest. I believe that all life is equally sacred irregardless of how it came into being.

Thanks again,

Mike Coffman

Asked about this later, Caplis emailed me he wasn’t surprised that Coffman went out of his way to be clear that he was against abortion in the case of rape and incest. “Mike has always been such a champion of the pro-life cause that I think the issue was quickly resolved,” Caplis wrote.

In a statement after the last election, Personhood USA celebrated Coffman’s “100%” anti-choice stand, and the organization held him up as proof that a politician can hold be stridently anti-abortion and still win close elections. A local personhood leader called Coffman a “statesman.”

With this kind of paper trail hanging over your shoulder, it’s no surprise that Coffman’s spokesman has offered different explanations to The Denver Post and Denver’s Fox 31 for Coffman’s personhood shift, telling The Post Coffman wouldn’t support the personhood amendment this year and offering this to Denver’s Fox 31:

“There’s a reason Democratic Senator Michael Bennet called Speaker Romanoff’s attacks sleazy in 2010 – Romanoff is the Czar of sleaze,” said Tyler Sandberg, Coffman’s campaign manager. “‘Supported it at every turn?’ Mike didn’t in 2012. And he doesn’t in 2014.

“The voters have spoken twice, and the question is settled.  The initiative is over-broad and full of unintended consequences, sort of like Obamacare, which let’s be honest, all of this sleaze from Romanoff is meant to be a distraction from.”

You read this and you think again, what does Coffman really think, and what’s the explanation?

Maybe Coffman would like a more tightly-worded personhood amendment, and he’d be ok with it? That’s another question reporters should put to him.

Reduced Staff of Political Reporters at Denver Post Reflects Decline in Colorado Journalism

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

You hear complaints about The Denver Post’s reduced coverage of politics, but the newspaper still has more political reporters than any other news outlet in Colorado. And it’s still the state’s leading source of political news.

So, to show what’s happened to political journalism in Colorado recently, I thought I’d compare the number of Post reporters covering elections and the legislature today to the numbers in recent decades.

The most shocking comparison is the Post’s staffing today versus 2010, when Colorado had senatorial and gubernatorial elections, like we do this year. This November, like 2010, Colorado also has state-wide races for state treasurer and secretary of state, plus state legislative elections and one of the most competitive congressional races in the country.

Just four years ago, The Post had double the number political reporters dedicated to elections and the state legislative session (four versus eight). The newspaper had about eleven in 1960s, 1970s, and mid-1980s.

“I would like to have more resources at my disposal when it comes to covering politics in swing state Colorado in an election year while the legislature is in session,” Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett told me via email. “Presently I’m asking Kurtis [Lee] and Lynn [Bartels] to do double duty. Lynn’s tracking the governor’s race while Kurtis tracks the Senate race. For the much-anticipated 6th DC contest, Carlos Illescas, recently assigned to focus on Aurora, is following Coffman and Joey Bunch is following Romanoff. Joey also does a mix of other stories. Obviously, on the national races we lean on Allison Sherry to help out from Washington. [Note: Since I corresponded with Plunkett, Sherry has announced her departure.]

“This is our present configuration. As the races heat up, that configuration could change. Change, of course, has never been a stranger to newsrooms. Being adaptable is what we’ve always been about.”

Curtis Hubbard, who was The Post’s Politics editor in 2010, described the political reporting staff he oversaw.

“Best guess is that, at a similar moment in time [in 2010], I had at least 8 reporters available to cover the statehouse and state and federal elections (though that number increased the closer we got to Election Day),” Hubbard emailed.

“During the primary phase, Karen Crummy covered the governor’s race; Michael Booth and Allison Sherry were pulled from other jobs in the newsroom to cover the U.S. Senate race; Michael Riley covered the delegation and congressional races from our D.C. bureau; Lynn Bartels, Tim Hoover and Jessica Fender covered statehouse races, the state treasurer’s race and congressional races; and John Ingold covered the Attorney General’s race, the Secretary of State’s race and general issues pertaining to elections and turnout.

“In my time there, The Post’s leadership team always understood the important role the publication played in informing voters on the issues and never shied away from adding reporters to the politics team as warranted. Additionally, The Post continually sought out ways to help bring understanding of the issues to voters, whether that was through launching online Voter Guides, which proved to be among the most popular online offerings each election season, or on-camera interviews with candidates.

“Despite the ongoing ‘right-sizing’ that has depleted the ranks of reporters and editors at The Post in recent years, the organization continues to dedicate more people to politics than any other news outlet in the state.“

During the 1960s and 1970s, when former Denver Post reporter Fred Brown started covering the Colorado Legislature, the newspaper assigned six reporters to election campaigns, plus five to the legislature, according to Brown. Brown wrote that the numbers were slightly reduced in the mid-1980s, when he returned to the beat.

The Denver Post used to assign about half a dozen reporters, or more, to election campaigns,” Brown told me via email. “Senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns had a total of four: One for each major party’s candidate. The congressional candidates usually were covered by suburban or regional reporters. Sometimes suburban reporters covered more than one congressional district, but they always covered both major-party candidates. Other state offices, and the legislative races, typically were covered by the chief political writer (me or others who had that role before and after).

“The dwindling staffing of election coverage reflects what happened to legislative coverage. The first dozen or so years I was part of the legislative team, there were five reporters and one photographer regularly assigned to the session. Leonard Larsen, Tom Gavin and Charles Roos joined me (the regular statehouse reporter) and one other general assignment reporter (assigned ad hoc) on the legislative team during the session. Duane Howell’s full-time assignment as a photographer was to cover the legislature when it was in session.”

Although they’re a useful measure and symbol of the decline of Colorado journalism, The Post’s staffing numbers don’t tell the whole story, which is obviously much more complicated.

So-called “computer-assisted reporting” allows reporters to be more efficient in many ways than they used to be.

And the experience and skill of individual reporters can make a huge difference. One good political reporter, whether at The Post or a regional newspaper, radio station, or other competitor (some of which have good political journalists on staff), can do the work of many lesser journalists.

Also, the long competition between the Rocky Mountain News and The Post affected staff levels at the newspapers and the quality of Colorado political journalism until the Rocky closed in 2009. In an email, former Rocky Editor John Temple described, in broad terms, the Rocky’s approach to coverage in the early/mid 2000s:

“Typically, as I recall, we had a reporter for the House and a reporter for the Senate,” Temple wrote. “I also liked to have a free-floating reporter, but I can’t tell you with any confidence that we did that every session. In addition, Peter Blake spent most of his time at the Capitol. We then would send in beat reporters as required. In other words, we wanted the higher ed reporter to cover education issues and take them out of the Capitol and provide perspective, or the environment reporter. As for political races, typically it is difficult to cover them during the session. But what we did was assign reporters to the different races. So each race or group of races would have someone responsible for it. Typically one of our legislative reporters would be responsible for legislative races, as I recall. Burt Hubbard would cover money and help other reporters with that type of data journalism. Every reporter would be responsible for money in his or her race/races.”

Political reporting on local TV is not filling The Post’s gap. As has been the case for decades, we’re lucky if a Denver TV station has one dedicated political reporter, even though, for example, the stations earned a combined total of $67 million in political advertising dollars in 2012. Only Fox 31’s Eli Stokols offers day-to-day political coverage, like a newspaper reporter, but 9News and CBS4 both have political reporters and contribute quality political journalism.

And new technology allows for the contribution of progressive and conservative journalists. (See the Colorado Independent and the Colorado Observer.) Bloggers and trackers and everyday people with cameras are also part of “journalism” in the state.

I’m not saying that The Post’s staffing levels are the definitive measure of political journalism in Colorado, but they’re a serious indicator of the state’s journalistic health. And so it’s hard to be anything but depressed about the current situation.