Archive for April, 2018

What if everyone at The Post and Camera went rogue? And should they?

Monday, April 30th, 2018

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Editorial Page Editor Dave Krieger was “terminated” last week after the Camera’s publisher spiked an editorial, written by Krieger, that took aim at the Camera’s hedge-fund owner, Alden Global, which also owns The Denver Post. Krieger’s piece was titled, “Private Equity Owners Endanger Daily Camera’s Future.”

Krieger published the spiked editorial the week before he was sacked.

Here’s why Krieger published it:

Krieger: “This is a story about an important, longstanding Boulder institution. As journalists working in that community, we have an obligation to our readers to tell it.”

Does that mean that Post and Camera journalists should risk their jobs and start investigating and publishing articles about Alden? Do all journalists have that “obligation” to their readers?

If so, the scribes at the Camera and the Post have some work ahead of them. I had this vision of mass rebellion at the Post and Camera, not just from the editorial page editors, but from the entire staffs, refusing to write about anything but Alden Global, defying management and turning out newspapers until Alden had to call the police to forcibly shut down the newspaper and fire everybody. A mass strike and act corporate disruption.

Not gonna happen, but should more journalists at those newspapers risk getting fired over this, like Krieger did?

Krieger, who’s answering questions at 6:30 tonight at the Denver Press Club, undoubtedly knew there was a chance he’d be fired if he went rogue, just as I did when I published a column, spiked by Rocky Mountain News editor/publisher John Temple, arguing that maybe the Justice Department could intervene and force the Rocky to stay open a bit longer. (Temple got really mad but didn’t fire me.)

But I had almost nothing to lose, because the Rocky was a holiday-season away from closing, and I was freelancer anyway and could afford it.

Krieger’s full-time job was on the line.

And so was Plunkett’s, even though, as I understand it, he never disobeyed his bosses when he orchestrated his newspaper’s editorial attack on Alden Global from the pages of The Post. So maybe his firing seemed a bit less likely than Krieger’s, due to Krieger’s outright insubordination.

Actually, Krieger might not call what he did insubordination, because he works for his readers, or at least partly.

But if journalists put their readers first, what should the remaining staffs at the Post and Camera do now?

It sounds kind of ridiculous to spell it out, but all of us have the option of civil disobedience, if laws violate our higher ethical bearings, and we can tolerate it no longer and are willing to accept the consequences. See David Thoreau.

Whether we, as citizens, break the law obviously depends on a lot of things, including our personal circumstances (ethical, religious, financial, health, and more) and possibly our assessment of whether our law-breaking would help right the ship.

The same holds for journalists who have to decide when they owe it to their readers to disobey the corporate master and rebel, like Krieger did. Or go on strike. Or carry on, under the circling vultures, if they think a rebellion would just hasten the demise of journalism in Boulder and Denver.

Of course, journalists have faced dilemmas like this before, when they’ve battled managers and owners, but Alden Global is forcing a lot of them in our community to think about it at the same time, like right now.