Monday, April 25, 2016

Why did the Gazette hold a landslide story?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 1:40 PM

click to enlarge gazettetestarticle.png

When is a news article not a news article? When it's a test article, apparently.

There are things we don't know yet, but would note that over the weekend, The Denver Post published this fine piece of work by Ryan Maye Handy, formerly of the Gazette, who delved into the consequences of the city and developers not heeding warnings from geological experts.

The result was a story titled, "Warnings did not stop development in Colorado Springs' landslide zone."

Here's a portion of the story, which has generated more than 200 reader comments so far:
City officials have known about the problem since at least the mid-1990s, when they passed an ordinance designed to restrict development, but the measure has not been enforced and new homes have gone up almost unabated.

In other parts of the state where similar problems have occurred — including Boulder and Jefferson counties — landuse code prohibits building on known landslide areas.

Insurance will not cover the losses. At least 70 homeowners in southwest Colorado Springs are seeking federal grants to help buy out their destroyed or imperiled houses — the third round of such funding for the city. Nineteen of those properties are located in neighborhoods surrounding a Broadmoor Hotel golf course where a landslide has been an issue for years.

"In my mind, the process threw caution to the wind," said Jon White, a geologist with the Colorado Geological Survey. "Many knew the risks. Everybody should have been more cautious and the risks should have been disclosed to the potential homebuyers." 

In a letter to Colorado Springs officials last week, state geologists urged the city to take more aggressive action than they have to monitor and assess the risk the Broadmoor golf course slide poses to homes, infrastructure and residents of the area.
We've highlighted the references to The Broadmoor, because evidence suggests the Gazette had an opportunity to run some version of this story more than a month ago and apparently chose not to.

Be aware that the newspaper is owned by Clarity Media Group, which is controlled by Philip Anschutz, who also owns The Broadmoor.

As you can see above, the Gazette began to mount the story on its website on March 7. The "in progress" posting could be found as recently as just before noon Monday, when the article portion was removed — though the byline and March 7 date remain — about 50 minutes after we sent an email to Gazette Publisher Dan Steever and Editor Vince Bzdek. We provided them the screen shot and asked why the story was never published.

So far, no response from either of them, but now the page looks like this:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2016-04-25_at_12.23.06_pm.png

We discovered the "test article" last month and wrote a story about The Broadmoor's and a neighbor's claim against the city, which appeared in our March 23 issue.

A week or so after the planned March 7 publication of the Gazette story, Handy abruptly resigned from the newspaper. We haven't been able to find out more details as of yet, but will revisit this blog if and when we learn more.

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