Media

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sen. Bennet knocks Gazette advertisement

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 2:09 PM

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On Sunday, the Gazette ran an advertisement from the Friendship Assembly of God Church titled "DON'T CATER TO THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA."

"It's time for common sense Americans to stand up and speak out against the Homosexual Agenda," the advertisement begins. "The recent events in Indiana, Utah, and Arizona have caused most Americans to be in great fear for their personal, academic and religious freedoms."

Because newspapers have discretion in the advertising they accept and run, the Gazette's been getting hammered by commenters on its Facebook page. It's a continuation of its regression from a Pulitzer Prize-winning source of news to a confused uncle shouting in the corner. 

(Check out today's screed against climate change, to go with one from a few days ago, something about how people who smoke cannabis don't have jobs or something. Oof. Ten bucks says the next one is a warning against the evils of dancing to the radio.)

Reader Jim McFarland wrote this to the Gazette: "Between 'Clearing the Haze' and now allowing bigoted hate to be printed as ads in the paper, it is getting harder to justify keeping my print subscription. ... Allowing hate as ads and continuing to give Wayne Laugeson [sic] an outlet to spread his right wing nonsense is something I don't want to support."

Another reader, Clay A. Nash, told the newspaper, "You should be ashamed of yourselves! Allowing blatant hate to circulate throughout this community? get with the times, Gazette!"

The paper responded to all with this statement from publisher Dan Steever: "Gazette managers discussed the option of rejecting this ad, which did not violate basic guidelines. We decided doing so would set a dangerous precedent. ..."

The ad even drew the attention of Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who yesterday wrote: "A recent ad in the Colorado Springs Gazette used hurtful, venomous words to urge people to stand up against a so-called 'Homosexual Agenda.' Instead, we want to urge you to stand up against this hate speech and end discrimination. ..."

As usual, this led to a whole thread of people talking about what a backwards place Colorado Springs is. Between Rep. K-Schmitt and the smelly stuff being deposited on people's driveways when the newspaper's dropped off, we're getting downright medieval in these parts. Anyone for a little Catholic Inquisition?


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Thursday, April 16, 2015

'Democracy Now!' host Amy Goodman to speak at Colorado College

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 1:35 PM

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As a slogan, “democracy now!” may be more ideal than reality, with less than 40% of voters casting ballots in last week’s mayoral race.

But with a runoff election on the horizon, next week is an especially opportune time for Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman to be paying a visit to Colorado Springs

For the past two decades, Goodman’s radio show has made her the best-known left-leaning broadcaster in a medium that consistently swings to the right. The much-celebrated progressive news show is currently heard on more than 1,250 stations, including here on KRCC Monday through Thursday evenings at 7 p.m.

Goodman, who in February received Harvard’s I.F. Stone Lifetime Achievement Award, will be speaking at Colorado College next Thursday, April 23rd. The 7 p.m. talk will be free and open to the public.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More issues with Gazette's marijuana opinion series

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 10:35 AM

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It's been three weeks since the Gazette published "Clearing the Haze," a four-part opinion series written by the paper's anti-marijuana editorial board and a Denver-based anti-marijuana activist named Christine Tatum, who's married to anti-marijuana activist.

We asked if it was a joke, then heard about the communications company banning its employees from discussing its own stories on social media. Eventually, in came national criticism from the Columbia Journalism Review. In that last piece, which was also covered by Colorado Public Radio, publisher Dan Steever essentially acknowledged that the Gazette's goal wasn't to report on reality. Instead, it was an exercise in weaving cloth, "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.'"

Now comes news that co-writer Tatum is releasing a book with her husband with the exact same title as the Gazette's series: Clearing the Haze. The 160-page effort is aimed at parents worried their kids are on drugs; will cost $36; and includes fun recruitment bits like: "The authors encourage families entering the 12th step of 'giving back' to consider advocacy for smarter public policies surrounding drug access and addiction treatment."

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Considering the timing, and the fact that a Google search of the ISBN reveals pages dated before the series ran, it makes it look like the Gazette's series was also a back way to promote Tatum's book.

So, not only did the paper deceive its readers into thinking opinion was news, but it may also have been offering a quid pro quo to the anti-pot activist.

Emails to editorial-page editor Wayne Laugesen, editor Joanna Bean and Steever were not returned. On Twitter, Tatum responded, "The two projects have nothing to do with each other, but thanks for the promotion of both!"

Some more:

 • It's not very interesting to watch a national corporation inject its opinion into the public consciousness, but because it's local, here's the deal: Phillip Anschutz's Clarity Media, which owns the Gazette, used its PR arm at MediaDC to solicit coverage of its opinion dump. FOX News talk show Fox & Friends bit, so Laugesen did four-and-half minutes with them. Another Anschutz newspaper, the D.C.-based Washington Examiner, also ran the series.

• The Gazette found a market for its opinion, and is selling reprints of the series for $2.95 plus $1 for shipping. As Laugesen wrote on Facebook a few weeks ago: "This package will wind up in the hands of every state legislator, every member of Congress and every governor in the country. It is also making the rounds among politicians throughout the world. ... To call this a 'whopping success' is an understatement."

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Publisher defends Gazette's marijuana opinion dump

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

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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:

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• Steever might not understand how news-gathering works:

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

UPDATED: Gazette employees reportedly could be fired for commenting on marijuana stories

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 11:19 AM

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Update: This really is a disaster for the Gazette.

As Westword's Michael Roberts points out in his post, multiple former Gazette staffers have taken to Facebook to criticize the series, including former editor Jeff Thomas.

Former reporter R. Scott Rappold started it off: "I have held my tongue as long as I can. Shame on my former employer for passing off as 'news' what is clearly a 4-part editorial rant against voter-approved legalization of cannabis."

Former city hall reporter Daniel Chacón, who left the Gazette for Santa Fe in 2013 under a cloud of suspicion that Mayor Steve Bach influenced the move, wrote, "I'm not one to say, 'I told you so.' But I told you so!"

In a separate post, former reporter John Schroyer eloquently and thoroughly ripped the report: "I’ve contemplated this for several days, and in the end, I realized I just can’t think of enough negative adjectives to describe this journalistic farce," he writes. "... And incidentally, Gazette publisher Dan Steever has been completely mum when it comes to inquiries from other news outlets. ... Steever hasn’t uttered a word in defense of the series. Which is strange, because he was so vocal last year when the Gazette won a Pulitzer."

And here's former editor Thomas with a high-level take:
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———

Update: Editorial-page editor Wayne Laugesen writes on Twitter that Gazette website comments were "disabled to protect kid, per policy" on that particular story.

——— Original post: Tuesday, March 24, 3:15 p.m. ———

According to
 national media reporter Jim Romenesko, employees at the Colorado Springs Gazette are being told to sit down and shut up when it comes to its recent marijuana series, "Clearing the Haze," which, as we reported, is plagued with ethical problems.

Gazette employees have been strongly discouraged from commenting on or sharing opinions about the series," Romenesko quotes a source anonymous to readers. "Privately editors have mentioned that public criticism could jeopardize reporters’ jobs.”

An unnamed Indy source with knowledge of the Gazette's operations says, "From what I understand, it's dead silence in the newsroom on the subject of the Potgate." Which would help explain why the Indy has received no responses to inquiries made both yesterday and today about the series.

The problems stem from who wrote the pieces: editorial-board members Wayne Laugesen and Pula Davis, and anti-marijuana activist and former business reporter Christie Tatum. (She's pictured above debating the con side of Amendment 64 on Rocky Mountain PBS. We can't seem to embed the video, so click here if interested.) Her husband, an anti-pot activist himself, is even used as a source in today's piece.

In our initial post, we asked if the four-day series had gone through the traditional news process. Tatum writes on her Facebook page that it did not. The Gazette stories, released to the public to look like news features, stayed mainly within the paper's opinion department.

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Lastly, we'll just note that Dennis Huspeni, a former reporter for the Denver Business Journal and former head of the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, tried to post to the Gazette's Facebook page website that in his opinion their stories violate SPJ's Code of Ethics. His posts, he says, were removed.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Is the Gazette's new marijuana series a joke?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 12:19 PM

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Update: Gazette employees are at risk of being fired if they discuss the series. Our latest post here.

Well, this is embarrassing. It looks like the Gazette accidentally published a bloated anti-marijuana opinion column as news.

To its credit, "Clearing the Haze" does have a vaguely menacing presentation — and, ooh, parallax — but if the organization had any sense of journalistic ethics, the four-day series would never have hit the page.

Let's start with the way news is supposed to work. The Society of Professional Journalists says reporters should "avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts." For reference here's the Los Angeles Times' policy: "A fair-minded reader of Times news coverage should not be able to discern the private opinions of those who contributed to that coverage, or to infer that the organization is promoting any agenda."

It's probably not fair to hold the Gazette to such a standard, because it publicly espouses no such intention, but let's just do it anyway. Let's clear the haze.

The four-day series was written by three people: Wayne Laugesen, Pula Davis and Christie Tatum.

None of these people work for the news division of a newspaper. Laugesen and Davis are members of the Gazette's editorial board, which has written so many diatribes against cannabis, all compositions led by Laugesen, ownership is practically screaming in the woods.

As for Tatum, a former business reporter at the Denver Post, she reminds me of a quote by former New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal, on the subject of journalistic ethics: “I don’t care if you [screw] an elephant, just so long as you don’t cover the circus.” As the wife of Chris Thurstone, a doctor making his living on addiction treatment and leading anti-marijuana crusader, Tatum is screwing the elephant while covering the circus.

(Among other savvy moves, Thurstone thought he might capitalize on the death of Michael Brown by attributing being killed by a police officer, somehow, to marijuana, a post that led to charges of racism. It has since been removed. The good doctor has also said he fears teens will start injecting THC into each other.)

The website for the family business even states that Tatum "frequently collaborates with her husband to produce communications designed to educate and inform the public about substance abuse and addiction." Naturally, Thurstone shows up in the newspaper's comments cheerleading the piece.

But the best source of Tatum's bias is herself. Of the pieces she authored for the Gazette, Tatum yesterday wrote on Facebook how she thought of "you prevention folks out there" while she "looked at the sorry state of prevention in Colorado."

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On Twitter, Tatum refused to answer how she became involved with the project. We emailed Laugesen and editor Joanna Bean asking why no news staff are bylined on the story, and if it went through the traditional news process. We also asked about the conflicts of interest. Bean said she forwarded our email to publisher Dan Steever, and then ignored a follow-up. Laugesen never responded.

It's entirely possible there's useful information in the paper's stories. There are two more days to find out. But the Gazette's disregard for ethics here is disturbing. The first thing you're taught in journalism is to consider the source.

We have.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Jupiter Ascending: The next big thing ... or not

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 12:59 PM

Jupiter Ascending, in theaters now, is a film that has nice visuals but lacks depth. It builds itself up as epic. You could say it is epic in a sense — an epic failure.

When the first trailer was released, people got excited about what seemed like the next big space opera. Eye-catching graphics, rich story-worlds and intriguing characters. But you’re only as good as your word. And Jupiter Ascending failed to follow through, being rife with problems. Not everything about Jupiter Ascending is terrible. It's bursting with potential. Yet it manages to miss the marks of a great or even good film.

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Jupiter Ascending
follows housemaid Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who discovers she’s royalty but that her life’s on the line. She’s “rescued” by a trained hunter (Channing Tatum) who whisks her away to safety. She must fight to protect herself and Earth as she knows it.

This goes downhill. The characters are mere puppets. They travel from place to place without much explanation, making it a struggle for the audience to keep up.

The villains’ goal is to kill the heroine so they can rule Earth. The heroine has some motivation, initially just to get home, since she’s whiny and weak, but she decides to save the world as an afterthought.

It gets worse. Being subtle about what someone wants is one matter. Sometimes it’s more powerful when hinted at, allowing people to think it through. However, characters go from undeveloped to disappearing from the film after introductions that make them seem important, so there are bigger flaws in the story.

The whole film, in an attempt to be complex yet engaging, ends up convoluted. It’s not that it has too many characters but too many major ones. None are done justice within adequate screen time. Despite many directions Jupiter Ascending could take, just when it gets interesting, it goes on a tangent. It’s almost as if the filmmakers had multiple budding ideas. Somewhere along the way they grew bored before the ideas had a chance to blossom. Instead of cutting out these fillers to replace them with better, or just different, concepts, they sloppily left them with no place or purpose. The stuff of writers’ nightmares: a plant without a payoff.

One would think that given the pushed-back release date to handle special effects, the filmmakers would have noticed and fixed more pressing issues like everything wrong with the plot line and character development. But apparently, appealing films is all that matters to Hollywood these days.

One positive element about Jupiter Ascending is eye candy, from graphics to costumes to pretty faces that fans love to see. That at least it got right. What it got wrong was everything else. If the most that can be said about a film is how it looks, that’s saying very little. In this technological age, graphics are not challenging. Long gone are the days when big filmmakers valued lovable characters and a good story.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

'I Heart Colorado Springs' trumps 'Live It Up!'

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 3:33 PM

Granted, it’s no “Colorado Springs: Live It Up!”

And that’s just fine, especially for those of us who actually remember the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau's ill-fated 2011 branding campaign, which cost $111,000 and netted little more than local and national ridicule. 

In fact, the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition’s “I Heart Colorado Springs: A Colorado Springs Love Story” is actually pretty good. Posted to BuzzFeed Community earlier this week, the photo-feature includes 14 brief and articulate testimonials from a diverse range of local community members. You can go check it out here.

Sadly, all traces of the original and unintentionally hilarious “Live It Up!” video have disappeared from the convention bureau’s website, while the clips on YouTube yield a black screen along with a sad face and the words "This video is private. Sorry about that."

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

More on frostbitten KRDO reporter Eric Fink

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 4:23 PM

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Recently, we posted the tale of KRDO reporter Eric Fink, who was hospitalized earlier this month with severe frostbite shortly after the station ran a story about the risks of frostbite. Additionally, an unnamed insider told TVSpy that other reporters had previously criticized the station over a lack of training for extreme weather.

Now comes our source, who requested anonymity but is known to the Indy, for another take from inside the TV station. Here's the email we received today:
Everyone here is very surprised and saddened with Eric's situation and we're all praying and hoping for a speedy recovery.

Many of us have been in the news business for many years in cold weather climates and never heard of a reporter or photographer getting frostbite like this.

• Accusations about the station being criticized by reporters for not warning reporters about the dangers of cold weather are not true and laughable. It's unclear who the source for this is, but the only concerns about safety ever brought up by reporters are about covering crime news at night in certain areas of the city. Those concerns have always been properly addressed. No one has to do anything they are not comfortable doing.

As far as the cold weather — the station not only provides winter jackets, but managers and senior staff members frequently remind crews to wear those winter coats, gloves, hats and layers when it's cold. Many of us have worked in different markets in cold weather climates and no station has ever given any type of "formal training" on how to dress yourself for the cold.

• The News Director was never notified about Eric's condition until after he was taken to the hospital. She asked if he'd like her to come see him, since his family was not here, and he said yes.

• According to Eric and the producer who worked that shift, Eric never asked to come back to the station because it was cold.

According to Eric, the only thing he said was he was concerned about the wind blowing over his tripod at 6pm. The weekend anchor told him to prop it against the car. Eric couldn't get the backpack live unit to work so he took off his gloves. The live shot failed and the producer cleared him to come back at 6:05pm. It's unclear why he did not get into the car to try to power up the backpack unit. It's also not clear if he put his gloves back on.

Eric came back to the station and said his hands were cold, and staff members present at the time report that the weekend anchor told him to sit on them to warm them up. Only later did Eric start to show signs of a blister. He went out into the station parking lot with a photographer who set up his live shot for him and did a report for the 10pm.

It is very sad that this situation has played out the way it has. Eric is a very nice man and does not deserve the negative comments posted in the comments section from several publications that reported this.  
For his part, Fink never responded to our request for comment.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween playlist on Spotify

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Stop. What are you doing? Are you listening to the Independent's Roky Erickson Halloween playlist on Spotify?

No?

Well, how convenient that there's a big button to let you do just that right here.

Enjoy, and have a safe & spooky holiday!


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Monday, September 29, 2014

New radio station seeks to reveal the Springs' underrepresented

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 2:17 PM

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There's a growing sentiment, most easily seen in this manifesto, that Colorado Springs' media doesn't do an adequate job of giving voice to those in the minority by virtue of their race, income or sexual orientation. And while the charge is probably accurate, the effort is always being made — at least by everybody I know — so it's nice to see additional sources springing up, sources like new radio station KCMJ.

Founded by former Colorado House of Representatives member Dennis Apuan and launched Sept. 21, 93.9 FM plans to start broadcasting community radio in 2015 from a station near Jet Wing Drive and South Academy Boulevard. (Programming airs online, currently.) It's a low-power station, meaning it will only reach approximately a quarter of the city at first, but it will headquarter in, and tell some of the stories of, one of the poorest, most economically neglected areas of town.

"At first, our local, original program offerings will be limited," says programming chair Arlene Hall in a press release, "but we'll add programs as hosts, producers and needed equipment come online." Hall later expanded in a roundtable that the focus will be on two things: talk and music. Talk will include public affairs, local news and spoken word, while music will be eclectic, similar to what you might find on KRCC: jazz shows, Celtic hours, '80s playlists, local bands and independent artists.

But the bootstrapped effort can't do it without equipment and transmitters and towers, so the station is running an Indiegogo campaign until Nov. 13 in an attempt to raise $20,000. So far, it's brought in around $2,400. As far as rewards, $35 gets you a one-year radio membership; a sticker; discounted drinks at the Nov. 13 launch party at Ivywild School; and a pound of free beef from Ranch Foods Direct.

"There is a thirst in our city for radio that plays more than Top 20 Hits, radio that focuses on everything local, and radio that celebrates all the good that’s happening here," reads the campaign. "A station that respects its audience, promotes diversity, and gives a voice to those who are under-represented."


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Editor swap: Hight out, Bean in at The Gazette

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Joanna Bean, left, takes over for a departing Joe Hight.
  • Joanna Bean, left, takes over for a departing Joe Hight.

Today, the Gazette announced that Joe Hight, the editor who had led the paper's transition from ownership by Freedom Communications to Clarity Media in 2012, is returning to Oklahoma. Assuming the role will be longtime employee Joanna Bean, who previously worked as managing editor.

"We wanted our next newsroom leader to be one who understands this community and the vital historical role that The Gazette has had in Colorado Springs since its founding in 1872," said publisher Dan Steever. "We also wanted a leader who understands our readers, the changing consumer media habits and direction we're headed with The Gazette, gazette.com and our other brands."

The direction the paper's headed online has so far included a new paywall, which debuted recently to gripes on social media from people already irritated by the constant Google surveys. We emailed Bean for more on what her new role might mean and will update this post if we hear back. 

As for Hight, he oversaw the expansion of a newspaper suddenly flush with billionaire Philip Anschutz's cash, adding sections, pages and staff. In a separate piece, he says that one of his daughters moving back to Oklahoma, and his wife's desire to do the same, were strong motivators to depart.

"I'll never regret my time here or what we've accomplished since Clarity announced its purchase in 2012," Hight says. "I spent more than a month before coming here in studying The Gazette, reading about the history of the community and seeking to understand its demographics. I have to admit that I'm still learning.

"As for when we return to Oklahoma, I will enter another chapter of my life — literally — a family venture that will be announced soon. However, I'll always be connected to this community. Thank you for letting me be a part of it. I'll miss being a daily part of the newsroom and your lives."

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lance Armstrong is yelling at the Gazette

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 10:36 AM

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Today, Gazette sports columnist David Ramsey ran a piece talking to a former colleague of cyclist Lance Armstrong on the topic of post-truth relief for those who spoke out about Armstrong's history of doping.
Listen, I find no joy in watching Armstrong free-fall in the public's regard, but there is solace to be found in his troubles. As he falls, there's an encouraging, uplifting rise.

The crusaders who spoke the truth about him are now vindicated.

Betsy and her husband, Frankie, a former professional racer and teammate of Armstrong's, were present at a 1996 hospital discussion. At the time, Armstrong was recovering from cancer, and he told his physician he had enhanced his training with human growth hormone and steroids.
Then, as us newsie types are wont to do, the paper's sports-related Twitter account sent the story out, tagging Armstrong in the process. However, the cyclist, as you can see above, dissented.

Ramsey then tweeted out several offers to talk to the cyclist post-column, which this reporter wondered about and asked the columnist for clarification on why Armstrong wasn't contacted pre-print.

"A valid question," Ramsey responded, "but getting in touch with Lance is about as easy as getting in touch with Putin or Obama."

After I responded that it seems it apparently is not that difficult, Ramsey wrote: "Point well taken, but if he's serious about his point, he will call. He can't have it both ways."

And the last word:

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Music Voyager to showcase Pueblo

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 6:15 PM

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Over the course of several days this month, the TV show Music Voyager visited Pueblo. The show, which tapes in both the U.S. and abroad, filmed as much arts and culture as it could squeeze in over July 9-12. (After that, it spent the next week in Telluride.)

While in Pueblo, the crew filmed a concert with the Haunted Windchimes, visited Lastleaf Printing, boogie boarded on the Arkansas River and spent time along the Creative Corridor scouting the murals and sipping Solar Roast Coffee. Other film stops included a chat with a low rider club and work at a chile farm. Many appear in my April cover story regarding the city's developing arts scene.

In a video interview with the Pueblo Chieftain, director and cinematographer Adam Barton said, "I think it's a true artist's city. I've been really impressed with the amount and quality of the art. It seems like a city that's started to really embrace that."

The episode will air on PBS next March.

Requisite high humor from the show's Facebook page.
  • Requisite high humor from the show's Facebook page.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Social machine

Posted By on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM

I have a confession to make: Sometimes, I am the worst. At writing, at life, and at social media, you name it, and I’ve probably been the worst at it at some point. Usually, I can sound like an expert and a know-it-all about pretty much anything, even things I know nothing about. (But not a guru. Never a guru.) But I wrestled with that while writing this post.

As I was trying to write about humanity being necessary to social media I realized I sounded robotic, unfeeling, and nothing like a human. I felt like Kristen Stewart in every movie she’s ever made (except I smile more).
CARRIE KINTZ
  • Carrie Kintz

Then, I found this Margret Atwood quote: “Social media is called social for a reason. It lends itself to sharing rather than horn-tooting.” Reading it was a gentle smack in the face — if there can be such a thing — and the sentiment reminded me of what I truly love about being on all of these social media platforms: the stories, the sharing, and the people.

I love that ordinary people share their hilarious songs about why you can’t date their daughter, because people can relate to it or find it funny, and it spreads like wildfire. Or there are others, like the Rees family, who started a page honoring their daughter who died of cancer and now spend their lives making the day of other children who are battling that horrific disease. In fact, our stories can shine even brighter through social media. Photos, videos, and blogs give us the opportunity to share what we all share; our human need for connection and community.

A great example here in the Springs is SparrowHawk Cookware. Allen Epply Eppley runs the store and its social media channels. If you look at SparrowHawk's Facebook page or Instagram feed, you’ll see a wide range of content; everything from pots, mugs and Le Cruset cookware sales to conversations about community events. He has found the key to connecting with his community and creating potential customers along the way.

I know, it sounds trite to say that social media is about the people, but it’s the truth. Whether we run a business or we’re Facebooking just for fun, we are still communicating with others — there’s just a pixelated screen between us. Besides, in some way, we’re all just looking to be heard — even the Internet trolls. (OK, maybe not them. But Dave from Australia, who trolled his utility company with a drawn picture of a spider, is possibly an exception.)

Communication, whether it’s in person, or online, has to be intentional. Our words and expressions are what we make them. Granted, there are barriers to communicating online, but it isn’t impossible to be human and communicate like one in social media.

We have a growing and thriving social media community in Colorado Springs. I’m the girl who won’t do online dating, but I have dated two guys I met on Twitter. (Don’t judge me. Tinder wasn’t around then.) But seriously, I’ve met great people online who have become dear friends in real life, and I believe the connections and the friendships I’ve made have given me a deeper connection to the city. And I see more potential in our community and know more about what’s happening around town because of the time I spend on social.

There I go, getting all sappy again. I have a tendency to do that, but it’s only because I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly that happens — both in real life and online — and every time I see the good, my faith in humanity is renewed.

When the bad and the ugly get to me, I take BuzzFeed quizzes. (Part of me feels better knowing Thomas Jefferson is my Founding Father soul mate, my pop culture dragon personality is Drogon from Game of Thrones, and I’m 54 percent ‘Murican. How about you?)

Carrie Kintz is a digital communications nerd in real life. She also has a laugh that can be heard for miles, startling dogs and children, which is why she prefers the comfort of communicating in social media. She can be found hanging out on Pinterest and Twitter, talking about cheese or coffee. But not cheese and coffee together. That’s just wrong.
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