Whether or not there are further developments regarding a possible sale to Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, the Gazette continues to beef up its staff in surprising and laudable ways.
Of course, if one continues to draw a line from California to Colorado, maybe it shouldn't be so surprising. The Orange County Register, the parent company's flagship paper, continues its own transformation, most recently adding a hefty-sounding Sunday magazine to go with reviews from its new, James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic.
And with the departure of current reviewer Kate Jonuska to Boulder, that position is also open at our daily. And so are one-and-a-half features reporter jobs; page- and ad-designer jobs; and a night copy editor gig.
Interestingly, a previous ad for an arts and entertainment reporter includes the "need to easily switch gears when the need arises, including as back-up for our Society writer." Considering we've never heard of a "Colorado Springs society" section, and have little idea what would go in it, things could get interesting.
It came in an article detailing Colorado Ethics Watch's push for a criminal investigation of Secretary of State Scott Gessler for spending taxpayer money on trips to the Republican National Convention and a GOP election-law training event.
In the article's first sentence, reporter Tim Hoover refers to Colorado Ethics Watch — a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3), government watchdog group — as "a liberal group."
Hoover than goes on to quote Gessler spokesperson Andrew Cole as saying, "This is the kind of partisan behavior Ethics Watch is known for. It shouldn't come as a surprise that they would attack a Republican secretary of state, just as they have in the past."
While its not unheard of for a 501(c)(3) to be labeled partisan — since some do push platforms that align neatly with a particular political party — Ethics Watch doesn't seem to meet those criteria either in philosophy or in practice. After all, Republicans and Democrats have both pushed for campaign-finance disclosures and ethics in government.
Hoover's article does not give any explanation for labeling Ethics Watch "liberal." So, we called Ethics Watch executive director Luis Toro, to ask how he felt about the characterization.
"Honestly I just laughed, because they didn't call us that when I wrote an article criticizing John Hickenlooper," Toro said.
Toro said he hopes that people understand that people of all stripes can support the efforts of Ethics Watch. And he notes that his group has often been harder on Democrats than Republicans.
"We've only called for resignations of Democrats," he says. "We've yet to call for the resignation of a Republican."
It's been almost a year to date since local freelancer Kate Jonuska was announced as the Gazette's new restaurant critic, replacing Dave Philipps (who contentiously wrote under the pseudonym Nathaniel Glen).
Word came from Twitter today, though, that it's all over: Jonuska is on her way out, and "someone with writing exp & a solid food background, pref back of the house" is wanted.
The paper's been going through almost constant changes in recent months, what with East Coaster Aaron Kushner buying up the parent company, and installing his longterm friend and business partner Dan Steever as publisher of the Gazette.
We e-mailed editor Tracy Mobley-Martinez for more information, and will update if we hear back. In the mean time, Jonuska says the reason for the change is pretty simple: "Short answer: I'm moving to Boulder," she messages via Twitter. "I wanted the cat out of the bag already. I'll continue writing for at least a few weeks or until a replacement is found."
The days surrounding the Waldo Canyon Fire saw buildup of all kinds of pressure in the community. The best thing, though, was where much of that energy went: to helping, to thanking, to caring for the people affected. We broke records for the amount of food donated; money was raised in all corners of the globe; and we sang and danced to benefit the burn victims.
And we did one more thing right: We gathered on the corners and thanked the people fighting the fires. Here's what columnist Rich Tosches wrote on July 4:
For days, people have begun lining the sidewalks by 7:30 each morning in the neighborhoods near 31st and Fontanero streets. They return each evening before 8 o'clock. And in the morning and evening they wait, young and old, men, women and children, some holding American flags, some holding handmade signs of thanks, and some just trying to hold back the tears.
They come then, the firefighters, in pickup trucks and giant fire trucks and school buses, too. Dirty, battered men and women head up the hill to their camp at Holmes Middle School as others come down the hill to begin another shift, another round of dragon-slaying inside the lines amid the flames and glowing embers and lung-scorching smoke. ...
And then, when you think your heart can't bear another moment, a hand slowly emerges from a bus or a fire engine window, a hand caked with dirt and blackened by the ash. It waves a tired greeting toward the adoring throng and then another hand pokes out from a window, then another, and soon the firefighters ease their faces toward the windows and the people on the street roar and car horns blare in the smoky orange light.
Those scenes were pretty emotional then, and it feels just the same writing about it again now. Anyway, it's because of that memory that an ad I heard on the radio the other day stayed with me; so much so that I tracked it down. It was created by local agency Vladimir Jones, who graciously provided it to me, and has actually been running on select stations since August.
Here's the text, with the audio below:
"Hi, I'm Jeremy — and I'm Rudy. We're with the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Local 5. We entered the Waldo Canyon Fire armed with hoses, shovels, axes and trucks. We fought those fires with something even more important: you. You brought us water, energy bars and plenty of clothes. You also brought us your heart, your optimism and your notes of appreciation. You were the reason we would never quit. So, while so many of you thanked us for our efforts, we thank you, Colorado Springs, for yours."
Via press release comes word that public-radio station KRCC 91.5 FM has added a 1.72kW photovoltaic power grid to its rooftop — a first for a radio station in Colorado Springs, apparently. It's hoped it will produce around 3,191 kilowatt hours annually, or 10 percent of the building's electricity needs.
“KRCC is very excited to enter a new era with the installation of solar panels on our building,” says station manager Delaney Utterback in the release. “KRCC’s efforts mirror those of our parent organization, Colorado College. We, too, are striving to reduce our carbon footprint. Having less impact on natural resources is a value our listeners support and our solar panels are a crucial first step in KRCC's strategic goal for all around sustainability.”
Catch it in person during the 2012 Pikes Peak Sustainability Tour, on Oct. 27.
Tragedy always provides an opportunity for journalists to write (even more than they normally do) about themselves, so allow me to continue this hallowed tradition. Today, we're talking about whether or not it's a sensational play for outraged eyeballs to run graphic pictures of death with an accompanying story — or if the pictures, like the words, are just part of covering terrible things.
A well-known example are the images of people jumping from the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, which most media outlets
declined debated whether or not to show. But the most recent are the images that have followed the murder of three Americans and J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, by a (well-armed, well-trained) mob.
For a time, FOX News' website prominently featured the image of Stevens hanging from the arms of Libyans said to be rushing him to the hospital after the attack; the New York Times featured it also, actually drawing a request from the State Department to remove the image. The paper delicately refused, saying, "This chaotic and violent event was extremely significant as a news story, and we believe this photo helps to convey that situation to Times readers in a powerful way."
Here's what new public editor Margaret Sullivan had to say, referencing the fact that most media organizations haven't hesitated to show images of dead Arabs while covering the Iraq war, for example:
Who’s right — the readers who are protesting, or the editors? It’s a tough call, and it’s an area in which sensibilities have changed over the years.
But if you accept the idea that each human life has the same value and dignity, and there is no consistent objection to seeing images of the dead from other countries, it’s hard to mount a reasonable argument against what editors here chose to do. To put it clearly: They made the right call.
Having said that, I would not want to see a similar photograph on the front page of Thursday’s print edition, where its prominence and permanence would give it a different weight.
Similar push-back came from those same readers when the Times ran this photo (from a lineup of 10) on its front page with a story about the shooting at the Empire State Building.
I didn't really understand the problem at the time of the shooting, and I still don't with the killing of the ambassador. My position is that when crappy things happen, the coverage will contain crappy things.
This came to a head in a Facebook discussion with photojournalist Bryan Oller — who has shot a litany of historic events, including, recently, the Waldo Canyon Fire — who yesterday wrote (of FOX's website), "This is about as low as a news organization can go. Their top story of the death of the American ambassador in Libya with a photo of the ambassador either before or after his passing. Photo editing at it's worse [sic]."
Oller, who shoots for the Indy among other outlets, continued: "The debate is between poor taste or relevant news photo." I countered that I didn't want a news organization to be making those decisions for me — employing a parental role, essentially.
At the Indy, says managing editor Kirk Woundy, we'd likely look at such situations on a case-by-case basis. But since our overarching goal is to give people the truth, however ugly — and since our readers aren't likely to get much controversial coverage from other local media outlets — the burden of persuasion would likely fall to the "Don't print it" side of the debate.
City Council President Scott Hente says he too spoke with the folks from 60 Minutes.
According to Hente, the interview took place at his fire-damaged home in the Mountain Shadows area. While much of Hente's conversation with the producers focused on everyday budgetary issues, the Waldo Canyon fire came up, and the producers seemed very interested in what Hente had to say.
Hente notes in an e-mail to the Indy, "[A]t one point in the conversation, they looked at me and said, '[W]e’d like to focus on the fire and the City’s ability to fight it, given the current budget.'"
——- ORIGINAL POST, WEDNESDAY, 5:53 P.M. ——-
We were the evangelical Vatican, the seat of the "social issues" Republicans, and, to much the world, Wacko Crazy Town, U.S.A.
But we've come a long way, baby. And ever since the economy crashed, we've been back in the news — not because we're a bunch of religious nut jobs, but because we're a bunch of libertarian radicals.
According to national news, Colorado Springs is losing every basic service Americans take for granted, from roads to parks, and we're turning over anything we can to private businesses.
Is it true? Well, to a certain extent, maybe, though many news outlets have stretched the truth. Now, another one will likely be taking a shot at it. 60 Minutes sent producers to the Springs a couple weeks ago to scope our city's story, and it looks like they will return to finish what they started.
City Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin says the producers interviewed her. They seemed interested in the Springs because city coffers fell fast during the recession — due to the city depending largely on volatile sales tax revenues — and because the Springs has taken an interesting path to recovery. Namely, outsourcing and private-public partnerships.
Martin notes that the producers had already interviewed outsourcing-enthusiasts Chuck Fowler, Sean Paige and Mayor Steve Bach by the time they talked with her. Martin says she has a comparatively "measured approach." She notes that privatization and outsourcing often work well in the short-term, but can cost more in the long-term.
”[I] really want to try to portray the city in a good light, but also offer an alternative to what’s happening here," she says.
No word yet on when the 60 Minutes piece might air.
Last week, the Pueblo Chieftain enacted a pay wall for much of its online content, becoming the largest newspaper in the state to have done so. The 145-year-old southern Colorado staple will charge $5.75 for every four weeks of access — around $75 a year.
The change wasn't due to any recent climactic shift in the company, says managing editor Steve Henson in an interview with the Indy, though there was a need in the last year to lay off some people in the production and delivery areas of the paper. It was, instead, a decision that enough was enough.
"We’ve been discussing it for a long time," says Henson. "And I think philosophically, the whole newspaper industry, on daily papers, is shifting away to, ‘We can’t give our content away for free. This is crazy.’ You know, we’re manufacturing a product at great expense, and we’re giving it for free. ... We’re almost devaluing our product."
It's certainly a timely move. The Newspaper Association of America just released advertising statistics showing almost $800 million in print-advertising losses in the first half of this year, as compared to this time a year ago. And though the $32 million in digital-ad gains is minuscule — World Press Trends says just 2.2 percent of newspapers' ad revenue comes from the Internet — at least it's something. And adding an online subscription system can only help bridge that cavernous money gap. (Simon-Kucher & Partners said the industry should do one better and raise prices as a whole.)
"I think our struggle is: How do you get the people who have always gotten it for free? They never have subscribed to the print edition, and now they have to pay," the editor says. "Well, that was great that they were getting it for free, but really it’s pretty unrealistic, thinking you’re going to get that level of service. You know, you don’t just get City Council meetings covered, or homicides covered — that just doesn’t happen. And so, we’re hoping once people think their way through, they’ll say, ‘Well, this does have value to me.’ And we believe that — that’s part of our move: We think that our product has value."
To that end, the Chieftain has pumped up its website. Here's what Henson wrote in the paper's announcement:
Our online edition offers much more content than our print edition, and features we obviously can't offer in the newspaper. Those include news and feature videos both from the Associated Press and those produced by our local staff. There are slide shows, blogs, online forums.
A number of items will continue to be offered free online. They include: Breaking news. Obituaries. Vital Statistics. Feature photos and photo galleries. Videos. Opinions such as Tell It to The Chieftain and People Speak. Classified and display advertising. User-generated content such as photos and videos. Associated Press headlines. Celebrity news. Our sister publications the Pueblo West View and Beyond the Fold.
We also have enhanced our website — www.chieftain.com — so that it is more user-friendly and comprehensive than ever before.
There are also Apple and Android apps for phone and tablet. But features like the story the paper wrote about the $1 million in student debt that CSU-Pueblo just wrote off will be hidden behind the wall, available to the person who still wants to keep up with the deeply reported stuff.
Currently, the Chieftain has a circulation in the high 30,000s, though it hasn't received the most recent audit, Henson says. "But in a community of probably, you look at our entire area, probably less than 200,000 people, that’s awful good penetration; compared to the Gazette's, you know, in a community that’s probably four or five times our size."
And speaking of population, Henson says a influx into Pueblo would be key to curing a few financial ills.
"The problem for us is that, unlike Colorado Springs — which, you guys have just had unbelievable growth over the last 20 or so years — we haven’t. We’ve stayed more or less the same size," he says. "And so we can’t grow unless our community grows, and that’s kind of where we’re at. We don’t think we’re maxed out — we think we can get some more subscriptions — but a really substantial number, that’s gonna require the community to grow."
As for charges that the paper's only a conservative mouthpiece, reflecting the political beliefs of local owner Bob Rawlings? Well, check the news section.
"I would say that the news coverage is just about as balanced as you could be," Henson says. "To give you an example, we were such fanatics about it, we pulled off, when we covered the Republican convention, we put up all of our front pages on our display board and we said, ‘OK, when the Democratic convention comes, we’re gonna lay out the stories in exactly the same spot, and with the same level of coverage.’ And we really work hard on that."
The big news today comes via a story by the Denver Business Journal, saying conservative Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz — who bought The Broadmoor a year ago — is either interested in acquiring the Gazette, or starting a competing daily newspaper.
It wouldn't exactly be a first for Anschutz: In the deal that brought The Broadmoor, he also acquired the Oklahoman, in Oklahoma City, and already owns Clarity Media Group, which operates content-farm examiner.com, among other properties.
"The only thing I can tell you is that we've had some of our people on the ground in Colorado Springs investigating buying or starting a paper there," the DBJ quotes Clarity president, and former Denver Post publisher, Ryan McKibben as saying. He added: "At this point, what I can tell you is we've had folks on the ground there for some time exploring buying or building a paper in Colorado Springs."
In our Wednesday story about the new direction the Gazette could take, we noted that Freedom Communications owner Aaron Kushner has made it clear that the sale of our daily is a real possibility.
As a related side note, we did hear from Freedom Communications' spokesman Eric Morgan after our print deadline, in response to the question of what the company will focus on, and how stories will be treated in print versus on the web. He wrote:
"You will see a more diligent focus on print-exclusive and print-first stories throughout the week to offer additional value for subscribers, but not at the expense of what is covered on gazette.com and the app.
"The newsroom is using the same decision-making process regarding which articles will post digitally, and many articles will continue to appear online first. There’s no token rule that says the main Sunday story will not appear online, or that the bulk of stories throughout the week must appear in the newspaper first."
You read that right: not firing, but hiring.
After Freedom Communications was purchased in June by East Coaster Aaron Kushner and his business partners, he began ramping up the staff at its flagship paper, the Orange County Register. Some 20 newsroom positions are being added, for writers and editors of all stripes.
It seemed like a bummer when the same wasn't happening here, as its the same ownership. But late last week the Gazette posted openings for a Broncos and Rockies sports columnist, an investigative reporter, a preps-sports reporter, a business journalist and somebody to report on religion.
It's something of an unexpected development, but then again, with the announcement of new publisher Dan Steever, it seems that change is the name of the game on Prospect Street. Look for more on this in Wednesday's Independent.
Yesterday, Freedom Communications, the rebooted parent company of the Gazette, named Dan Steever as president and publisher of our daily newspaper.
"I am thrilled to have Dan join our team to lead the Gazette," says Freedom CEO (and publisher of the company's flagship paper, the Orange County Register) Aaron Kushner in a news release. "Dan is passionate about strengthening the Gazette and is uniquely qualified to lead our talented staff as we work to increase the value we provide to subscribers and our community."
Steever hails from Massachusetts, where he worked at the same greeting-card company as Kushner, but has spent the last three years in Chicago heading up the marketing company PromoWorks. At no point in his résumé is there any media experience, something Rich Laden brought up in an interview with the new boss — generally, asking Steever why he was qualified to be publisher, prompting a retort somewhere in the range of: "Just watch what we do in the next few months" — but that line of questioning has since been removed.
Anyway, look for a little bit more information in next week's Independent.
On the cover of today's Independent, you'll find the journalistic equivalent of keys locked in a car, a garden hose left running, a parent's birthday remembered too late. An inexplicable, yet completely irreversible, snafu that has the capacity to ruin a day and convince you that anyone who's looking in your direction, from your barista to your beagle, is saying to themselves, "What a blockhead."
It's "yeear's." As in, "Meet this yeear's winners and performers." This is how we introduce Bill Forman's feature on the 2012 Indy Music Awards, and it didn't come to our attention until after all our papers were printed.
I'd say this proves we're all too human and make goofy mistakes, but I don't think anyone's had much doubt on those counts. At least not since we decided this would be a good idea for a cover image during my first Earth Day at the Indy:
So all I'll say is, please read Bill's short profiles of 15 excellent local bands, and think about dropping into the Indy Music Awards on Thursday, Sept. 6. The show's free, at Stargazers, and promises some moments and performances that you'll be talking about for weeks to come.
No doubt, wee'll be doing the samee.
The Gazette has apparently, without comment, removed the Feb. 20 column by Jones. (Or, at least, the link brings back a 404 error now.) To see a cached version of the piece, click here.
——— ORIGINAL POST, 5:28 P.M. ——-
On Tuesday, the Gazette issued a short statement saying that contributor Ed Jones, the former state senator and El Paso County commissioner, "failed to attribute phrases the author says he obtained in the course of research." Apparently, Jones was going to properly credit the author of the ideas in his now-pulled column (cached version here) but didn't.
For instance, Jones writes:
Many in the minority community took advantage of the relaxed lending rules to purchase properties they clearly could not afford. They would buy homes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with little or no money down, at extremely low interest rates. They were counting on a rising real estate market to make their fortune.
Here's the original ("which contains no author’s full name" other than the moniker "steve," write the truth-diggers at the Gazette, but which a five-second Google search suggests is probably Stephen Richard
Levin Levine with Franzel Enterprises, the company that registered the site).
Many in the minority community took advantage of the lax lending conditions to purchase properties which they clearly could not afford. Hairdressers and causal laborers purchasing homes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with little or no money down and extremely low teaser — counting on a rising real estate market to make their fortune.
The hits keep rolling, but you get the gist.
The person who brought this to light, apparently, is a man who'd like to be known as Ziggy Rainbeaux. Mr. Rainbeaux tracked down the phrases and sites, then apparently called the G and spoke with editor Wayne Laugesen, who said, after review, that no other pieces of Jones' were found to contain outside work. (We've written Laugesen and Jones for comment, and will update if we hear back.)
Of course, now Rainbeaux says he's found more cases of appropriation without attribution.
• There's the quick, one-sentence rip-offs, like from a CNN piece about Wisconsin politics that Jones uses verbatim, when he describes Americans for Prosperity as "a conservative advocacy group built around many of the same principles as the tea party."
• There's a 2011 column, where a large part of the opening
In “A Plan for Peace” she proposed a congressional department to “apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.”
Sanger’s ideology led to the creation of Planned Parenthood in 1916.
is a riff on this Lipstick Alley post:
In “A Plan for Peace” she proposed a congressional department to “apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring), which was originally named The American Birth Control League, became Planned Parenthood.
Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
It is the poor who habitually elect Democrats—and yet they are still poor…
“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they cannot and should for themselves.“
So what does Jones "write" on Feb. 20, 2012?
Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It is the poor who habitually elect Democrats, yet they are still poor. This is what scares me as I look toward this November’s election.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage earner down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should for themselves.”
Of course, Lincoln never said that.
Mountain Shadows, the area that burned June 26 in the Waldo Canyon Fire, will be in the national spotlight when it's featured in an HGTV episode, according to a news release from Robert Scott General Contractors.
The firm is partly owned by Colorado Springs City Council President Scott Hente. Hente's partner in the firm is Robert Ormston.
HGTV will be in town Sunday filming the episode, which will feature the home of Glenn and Lindsay Dougherty, 5925 Wilson Road.
"The new HGTV program will highlight the recovery and rebuilding of structures that were damaged by various disasters," the news release says. "The Dougherty's will be employing the use of a local contractor, Robert Scott General Contractors, along with their various trade partners, to make all of the necessary repairs and improvements to the family residence in the matter of a few days."
Coming on the heels of 1580 AM opening a live studio on Tejon Street — from which FOX 21 sometimes broadcasts — KKTV will move from its current location on North Nevada Avenue to 520 E. Colorado Ave., near the intersection with Pikes Peak Avenue. The move was first reported by the Gazette.
"We are incredibly excited about the move," says station general manager Nick Matesi in a press release. "The building we selected is completely aligned with our goal of creating a next generation media facility. As we evolve to more of a multi-platform content and advertising provider, the open spaces and open floor plan will provide us with a much more collaborative environment."
The new 8,000-square-foot space will be dramatically smaller than the 30,000 feet of space the station has occupied since 1969, but it's just right for the technologically evolving station, says Matesi in a follow-up e-mail.
"We’re in more of an IP/IT world today — and we want to be able to give all of our folks access to assets wherever they are — both internally and externally. Technology allows us to do that," he writes. "Also — growth of digital media/mobile/social media means folks have to be able to access and distribute content to multiple platforms more seamlessly."
Matesi says the move has nothing to do with FOX's partial move into the territory, and everything to do with how competitive Colorado Springs' TV news market is.
"We have to continually evolve or we will risk becoming irrelevant," he writes. "The news consumer is evolving as well — and we have to continue to provide important, TIMELY (a key word) information to them in the context they want it, when they want it."
That will mean a new set, with brand-new equipment and redesigned office space meant to help people work together. The opening date is tentatively set for early 2013.
“The Waldo Canyon fire was a teachable moment, because KKTV marshaled the resources to broadcast uninterrupted coverage of the emergency for 131 hours, ” says Jim Ocon, vice president with parent company Gray Television, in the release. “We learned from those experiences that we need to create a working environment whereby information can flow easily both internally and externally. KKTV will create a mobile newsroom philosophy, and the building we selected is a perfect set-up for that to happen.”
As for the old building, the Gazette reports that Gray will sell it. History-wise, it "started life as soundstages for the Alexander Film Co. in the 1940s," Andrew Wineke writes. "For decades, Alexander was the nation’s largest producer of the advertising shorts that preceded feature films at movie theaters and the company had a complex of buildings on North Nevada Avenue."