Thursday, March 26, 2015

Publisher defends Gazette's marijuana opinion dump

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 10:34 AM


Last night, the Columbia Journalism Review ran an interview with Gazette publisher Dan Steever, closing this fraught chapter in the publisher's tenure. (Steever ignored multiple Indy requests for an interview, including an email from our editor-in-chief.)

The opinion series "reads like a fact-dumping, throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach to proving the argument that pot legalization in Colorado was a bad idea," writes CJR reporter Corey Hutchins, who's based in Colorado Springs.

Hutchins also spoke with several Gazette staffers, including capital reporter Megan Schrader who admirably asked for permission to speak on the record to deliver a rebuttal. "I wish that it had been labeled more clearly than what it was, especially online ..." she was quoted as saying. "I thought that there was a lack of transparency with that element.”

One anonymous Gazette writer said, "Everyone in the community thinks it’s a news piece and that we wrote it — and we’re not responsible for it at all.” Another confirmed the paper's order not to discuss the series on social media, saying, "Being told to not do that is different and new and unusual."

As for Steever, he defended the newspaper's actions at every turn. The full Q-and-A is worth the read, but here are some highlights:

• Asked if the Gazette did all the disclosure possible when it came to writer Christine Tatum's relationship to anti-marijuana forces: "I guess that’s for the reader to decide."

• Steever says he has received "two to three times more emails than any story we’ve ever done," which presumably includes last year's Pulitzer Prize-winning series. 95 percent of the emails have been positive, he says.

• Asked the paper's intention in running the series, Steever doubles down on the paper's slanted take: "To try to tie some of those facts and data so that readers say, 'Huh, maybe this isn’t going as swimmingly as everybody has said.'"

• Steever doesn't understand how fact-checking works:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2015-03-26_at_10.13.19_am.png

• Steever might not understand how news-gathering works:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2015-03-26_at_10.14.02_am.png

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