Colorado journalism is taking yet another sad blow Sept. 30 when Bob Moore departs for a job in, I’m sorry to say, Texas. He’ll be Executive Editor at the El Paso Times. Moore is clearly one of the state’s leading journalists thanks to his fair-minded and detail-oriented reporting, as well as his sincere concern for the community. He has the respect of all types media figures. Even bloggers like him. And he’s president of the Colorado Press Association.
Moore started his journalism career as an intern at the Pueblo Chieftain in 1983. He landed his first job in 1984 at the Fountain Valley News in El Paso County, CO. After a few months, he went to the Colorado Springs Sun. When it closed in 1986, he moved to the El Paso Times, where he was, among other things, executive editor. He left there in 2005 to become Executive Editor at the Coloradoan.
Q: Why are you leaving the Ft. Collins Coloradoan?
A: The opportunity to return to El Paso is a great professional and personal opportunity. I spent almost 20 years there before returning to Colorado in 2005. The Mexican border is one of the most interesting places in the world from a journalistic viewpoint. El Paso is a city going through a unique transformation as the violence in Mexico drives middle class Juarenses to El Paso, where they are setting up businesses and setting down roots. This current exodus is reshaping the U.S.- Mexico border like no event since the Mexican Revolution. I’ll also get the opportunity to work with seven newspapers in New Mexico. Finally, my wife and I have family in El Paso.
Q: You were the Executive Editor of the El Paso Times previously. Do you hope to be a better journalist at the El Paso Times? If so, how so?
A: As executive editor, I was the No. 2 in the newsroom. In my new role, I’ll be the top editor. I think my six years in Fort Collins has definitely made me a better journalist. I’ve had to reimagine approaches to news coverage, utilize new technologies, and be more creative in deploying resources.
Q: Do you see a dim future for your style of serious journalism at the Coloradoan [owned by Gannett] or Gannett newspapers generally? Does MediaNews [owner of the El Paso Times, The Denver Post, and many other newspapers] look like a better or more stable company to work for?
A: I think both Gannett and MediaNews are committed to journalism that aggressively informs communities and acts in the greatest traditions of the First Amendment. I have very much enjoyed my 25 years with Gannett. I’ve known Dean Singleton for about eight years, and very much respect him. Obviously, MediaNews is going through significant changes as John Paton moves in as CEO. Gannett’s also undergoing significant changes, as is the entire industry.
Q: As a long-time journalist in Fort Collins and as President of the Colorado Press Association, you have a good perspective on Colorado journalism, as you head out the door. What do you think are its biggest strengths and weaknesses?
A: The biggest strength in Colorado journalism is the journalists. We’ve got a lot of really good people plying their trade. Obviously, the numbers are down significantly from when I returned to Colorado in 2005. But there’s a lot of remarkable work being done. My biggest concern is how thin we are in the ranks of younger newspaper journalists. We’ve got some good ones working in Fort Collins, and there are others throughout the state. A few years ago I hired a great young reporter named Jason Kosena. He did a lot of good work in the political realm, but he’s now out of the business because he felt he needed something more stable.
Q: What would you say to a young person who wants to be a political journalist?
A: I still think it’s a good and important career, though I doubt there’ll be many people spending 25 years with the same company like I did. You’ll need to be entrepreneurial, flexible, and curious.
Q: Do you think political reporting in El Paso could possibly be as interesting as it is in Ft. Collins?
A: I don’t think Texas politics takes a back seat to politics anywhere. And sitting on the Mexican border, we’ll actually get to cover two presidential elections next year. And here’s my favorite piece of meaningless political trivia. No Republican since 1988 has been elected president without first appearing in a debate I moderated. The only candidate who fits that bill this year? Rick Perry.
Q: Do you have a couple favorite moments during your career here in Colorado?
A: The 2008 4th Congressional District campaign between Marilyn Musgrave and Betsy Markey would have to top the list. It was one of the more important House races nationally, and it had interesting dynamics. Even though I was covering it part-time in addition to my editor duties, I think we were able to bring a lot of depth to our coverage that you didn’t see in House races across the country. Covering the recent problems with the Larimer County Republican Party was also interesting.
Then there was Balloon Boy.
The most important impact the Coloradoan has had during my tenure is the consistent reporting we’ve done since 2007 looking at rising poverty rates in Fort Collins and Larimer County. This had been going on since the early part of the decade, but policy makers and the general public really didn’t notice it. Beginning with a seven-day series in August and September 2007, and continuing since, the Coloradoan has documented how rising poverty and declining incomes have altered our community. Our reporting managed to awaken the community to the problems, and spurred the creation of a program called Pathways Past Poverty, which is working to address a number of the root causes of rising poverty. This work constantly reminds me of the impact that newspapers can have on a community when we focus our storytelling.
Two stories from last year also come to mind. The Coloradoan documented that a negligent Department of Human Services bureaucracy had failed to complete 10 of 11 required child fatality reviews in the deaths of children who died while under state supervision. The purpose of these reviews is to identify systemic problems, and fix them. The Coloradoan’s stories were a huge embarrassment to the state and prompted a number of reforms. It was an example of how a small newspaper can have statewide impact.
The other story was our discovery, using open records laws, that the Poudre School District had decided not to notify parents when employees were charged with felonies involving student victims. Our reporting prompted change at both the state and local level.
Q: How will you live without the Colorado Rockies? [Moore’s followers know he’s a big sports fan.]
A: One of my great personal memories of my time back in Colorado was being able to go to every Rockies playoff game in 2007, including the play-in game against San Diego. That was a thrill. And I had tickets to Game 5 of the World Series. Of course, that never happened. I’ve now had tickets to two World Series games — Game 3 in 1989, which was the earthquake game, and Game 5 in 2007. Still haven’t seen a World Series game. And thanks to Josh McDaniels thinning out the waiting list for Broncos season tickets, I finally got season tickets this year. It’s hard to give those up.