Media

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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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The social life

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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Sometimes, introductions are tough; like right now, for instance. This is my first post on the IndyBlog, where we get to discuss the big, insane sphere of social media and its influence on the world and Colorado Springs. Introductions are supposed to be fun and informative and ... something other than it is right now. I’ve been sitting here wracking my brain for the right words. 

OK, that’s a lie — I’ve been on Pinterest. Perhaps that’s where I should start. 

If you follow me on Pinterest (CarrieKintz), you might notice that I’m a bit of an Anglophile and a foodie, and have a fondness for quotes about writing. The words of other writers never fail to inspire me, especially when writing. “My head is a hive of words that won’t settle.” These words from Virginia Woolf inspire me to make sense of the consonants and vowels rattling around in my brain. 

You might also note that I have a deep and abiding fondness for Benedict Cumberbatch and Doctor Who. (By the way, have you met the Doctor? Travels in a big blue police telephone box through time and space, usually saving the earth from aliens? If you haven’t, I recommend you rectify that immediately. Geronimo!)

If we become friends on Facebook, you’ll learn that I don’t post often, and when I do, no one sees my posts because I forget to change my settings from “only me” to “friends,” or perhaps people just don’t like what I have to say — that’s also a possibility.

Twitter (@CarrieKintz) is where I spend most of my time conversing. Here, we might have a conversation about what’s happening in Colorado Springs, new television shows, or hilarious quotes I find about celebrities on the internet like, “Channing Tatum looks like a bushel of elbows.” (Does anyone know what a bushel of elbows looks like? Discuss.) And, more than likely, there will be at least one conversation about cheese. I love cheese. 

I wouldn’t recommend following me on Google+. (Is that even still a thing?)

These ridiculous paragraphs (hopefully) highlight some of what I love about social media — there’s constant activity, and we have the ability to connect with people around the world in a way that is unprecedented. We can finally see if our eighth-grade crush actually turned out to be good looking — how did yours turn out? (I still haven’t found mine, but it’s not for lack of looking. Is that creepy? That’s probably creepy.) We can plan family and high school reunions, help our friends decide on the color of a new couch, or discuss current events. Like Ann Coulter’s bizarre rant about soccer, or Shia LeBeouf getting carted out of Cabaret for slapping total strangers. Oh, Shia. What’s happened to you?

The way we consume news has changed with our instant access to information. With a cell phone in hand, people become reporters, their photos and videos shaping the way stories are told, and getting these stories to people faster than mediums like television and radio. Major television events have been transformed by platforms like Facebook and Twitter as well. It’s rare for me to watch the Super Bowl or the Oscars without tweeting my thoughts about what’s happening, and reading timelines and feeds to see what others are saying. These experiences shape my online community, whom I trust, and from whom I get information from on a daily basis. And not just to see silly selfies or to get the latest bacon recipes.

Social media has become the community I turn to in times of disaster or tragedy. Social media allows citizens and news organizations to communicate critical information in real time — though, at times, this can create confusion. For example, during the Waldo Canyon Fire, old information was tweeted out days after it was irrelevant and people became unclear about what was really happening. However, as dramatic have events unfolded, I have seen people work hard to make sure the information shared is accurate and reliable. (Tip: Make sure you’re using the accurate hashtag for any event.)

Some of the best examples of the power of social media I’ve seen, came during the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires. I've had the opportunity to work with some amazing people in our community through social media, and fallen in love with the tender heart of Colorado Springs as we've come together to help those impacted by those devastating events.

I know our city has its differences and complexities, but the unity and charity we show in tough times has given me a deep affection for our city, and the people I’ve met through various social media channels.

Sorry. I got a little sappy there for a moment, didn’t I? If you need me, I’ll be on Twitter, talking about what I had for lunch.

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 (CarrieKintz) and Twitter (@CarrieKintz), talking about cheese or coffee. But not cheese and coffee together. Because that’s just wrong.
 
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Monday, July 7, 2014

On arts coverage and ethics

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:13 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
The bottom line of this story is old: Newspapers are having a hard go at it.

The second-to-bottom line is also old: Newspapers are searching for new sources of income.

But as the Columbia Journalism Review reported last week, certain papers are taking decidedly questionable routes these days to keep the doors open.

Meet the Greensboro News & Record, a daily in North Carolina, which recently announced that the arts nonprofit ArtsGreensboro will underwrite 70 stories about the arts scene there this year. Actual coverage is better than ads for ArtsGreensboro, and News & Record will get $15,000. (Oh, and "complete independence and discretion" in said coverage.)

Any journalist with at least a little experience will tell you that this is dangerously close to unethical, and some will say that this is all-the-way completely unethical, no question. Cue the flashing red lights. But there's more to the story, and as CJR writer Corey Hutchins says, 15K isn't even a "transformative" amount of money for a paper of News & Record's size, nor its level of distress. It's had to cut back, but with owner Warren Buffett, it isn't in existential crisis.

So why do it?

Hutchins goes over several points, and talks with News & Record editor and publisher Jeff Gauger, who OK'ed the decision. While this may be a lot of industry stuff most interesting to those already in it, it sheds light on the way information comes to you, the reader. How it filters through the company and ends up on the page is your business. You decide whether or not you trust this source of information.

Because the fact is, as soon as money and editorial content begins to mingle, it puts the one thing any newspaper worth its salt values most at risk: reader trust.

Arts folks are doing good work worth reporting, no doubt. But a newspaper's allegiance isn't to any of its beats, it's to the readers. Advocacy and coverage are entirely different things. People distrust the media enough as it is. Sometimes it's with good reason. This is one of those reasons. 

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Former Gazette writers claim IRE award

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM

It's heartening to know that investigative journalism is alive and well across the country, as demonstrated by a stellar line up of winners at the Investigative Reporters and Editors annual conference in San Francisco.

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Among those winners were a couple of familiar names — Raquel Rutledge and John Diedrich, two former Gazette reporters who now work at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Rutledge, who covered City Hall here and won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 2010, and John, who covered the military here, left Colorado Springs for the Journal Sentinel in 2004.

They won the IRE "print — medium" category with their investigation of the ATF. Here's what the judges said about the series, called "Backfire":
In an exhaustive and shocking yearlong-series, Journal Sentinel reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge detail reckless and illegal operations carried out by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The investigation began with a tip about federal agents damaging a rental property and expanded into a nationwide scandal with relentless digging. The reporters discovered the ATF taking advantage of people with intellectual disabilities by employing them in undercover operations, giving firearms to unsupervised felons and buying stolen property that encouraged burglaries. The stories prompted the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general to open an inquiry into the newspaper’s findings. 
Read the series here.

Contacted by e-mail, Raquel said, " It was great working with John. We've got a fantastic support network in this newsroom and couldn't ask for anything better."

Indeed, the Journal Sentinel won more than one IRE award this year.

One of the finalists in the category won by Rutledge and Diedrich was "Other Than Honorable," a series published in 2013 by the Gazette, for which Dave Philipps won the national reporting Pulitzer this year. Philipps has since accepted a reporting job with The New York Times.

In a news release, my former colleague at The Tulsa Tribune, IRE Contest Chair Ziva Branstetter, now with the Tulsa World, said the winners were chosen from more than 500 entries that demonstrated "powerful investigative journalism is being published, aired and posted at all levels and across media platforms.

"The judges were impressed with the quality of these entries, which included moving stories about powerless people, fearless probes of corrupt public officials and exposés of powerful institutions run amok," she said in the release. "They display in vivid detail that investigative journalism is alive and well across the nation and globe."

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Air Canada talked about us!

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 4:04 PM

ENROUTE, CATHERINE LEPAGE
  • enRoute, Catherine Lepage
I don't fly nearly enough to know what this means exactly, but as a sometimes-traveler — who needs all the distraction she can get, and that includes a spin through SkyMall — it seems pretty cool to get some love from enRoute, the Air Canada publication.

The May 29 issue's quick trip section listed five ways to "strike gold" in the Springs, including trips to Ivywild School and Summit at the Broadmoor, climbing in Garden of the Gods, a stay at the Mining Exchange and for the culture part, a visit to Range Gallery in Old Colorado City.

"A real camera fanatic — she owns 50 of them — Kathleen McFadden captures the landscapes of the American West with sensitivity and humour. On the charcoal-grey walls of her gallery in über-Western Old Colorado City, she exhibits oversize images of broken-down trailers, livestock corrals, solitary motels and more local iconography."

A sidebar discusses some of the mineral springs in Manitou (though it reads like those are in Colorado Springs as well); and did you know, you can "pamper" your muscles and kidneys with the iron- and potassium-rich waters of Iron Springs Geyser? 

And not a weed/conservative yahoo/evangelical hotbed reference in sight.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ted Haggard criticizes handling of Sheriff Maketa controversy

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 4:59 PM

SEAN CAYTON
  • SEAN CAYTON
If you’ve been waiting for New Life Church founder Ted Haggard to weigh in on the current Sheriff Maketa controversy, the wait is over.

Banished from his own church in 2006, the scandal-ridden pastor has been preaching the gospel of tolerance ever since. In a blog posted last week titled “Should Sheriff Maketa Resign?” Haggard likens Maketa’s treatment in the press to his own.

“[Media outlets] influence us to the point that we wrongly believe we know enough about a subject to have an informed opinion,” writes Haggard. “However, many of us who have had first hand knowledge of a situation and then contrast the facts we know with news accounts, too often, find the press inept."

For those who haven’t been following the story, the El Paso County sheriff is being investigated for allegations of giving preferential treatment to subordinates with whom he's accused of having intimate relations. In a video distributed to sheriff's office employees over the weekend, and made public by the Gazette, Maketa admitted to having "engaged in inappropriate behavior in the past," but said again that he has no intention of resigning.

Haggard's post (written before that video came out) essentially cautions against a rush to judgment. Besides editorials calling for the sheriff to resign, which have appeared in both the Gazette and the Indy’s sister publication, the Colorado Springs Business Journal, county commissioners last week asked Maketa to step down.

“Once the facts are established, we all support accountability and justice,” he writes. “We have a system for that, but if we are not careful, we all might unintentionally participate in the dismantling of that system by returning to, in effect, lynch mobs. Even if the accused is guilty, shouldn’t someone protect them from the crowd until the facts are established?”

You can read the blog in its entirety here.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

UPDATE: Looks like Ed Jones is plagiarizing again

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 9:41 AM

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  • screenshot
Update: While we still have not received a response from Laugesen, The Gazette has removed the column in question. However, you can temporarily access a cached version of it here.

——— Original post: Monday, May 26, 1:39 p.m. ———

Almost two years ago, we brought you the sordid tale of former legislator Ed Jones, whose time as an opinion columnist for The Gazette has included more than a few instances of friendly neighborhood plagiarism. 

At the time, Jones explained his various lapses with proper credit as an issue of urgency. "In my haste, I wrote the article with intention to track down the author’s name and insert attribution," he said in a statement. "It did not get done before the article went to publication, which I regret."

Well, maybe he's still rushing, but as pointed out to us once again by our original tipster, Jones' latest joint, titled "Best curriculum for our kids is one we develop ourselves," is chock-full of ripped-off sentences and paragraphs. Most of the plagiarized material originated with the Home School Legal Defense Association, but there's some stuff from elsewhere.

• The first instances comes in the fourth paragraph, which is lifted almost completely from this HSLDA page, which was last updated Aug. 22, 2013. (Jones added the word "Barack.")

Original:

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Jones:

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• A second instance comes from the first paragraph in a story posted to redefinedonline.org.

Original:
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Jones:
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• The third example is pretty funny considering how a Gazette commenter wonders at Jones' use of the word "pedagogical." Wonder no more, intrepid doubter, for it comes from HSLDA's paper "Common Core Issues."

Original:
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Jones:
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His next sentences then copy most of HSLDA's take.

Original:
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Jones:
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• Later, Jones actually credits a publication more thoroughly than HSLDA, but of course does it in their exact language.

Original:
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Jones:
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• Jones continues ripping-off entire paragraphs, essentially, like this one from here:

Original:
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Jones:
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That seems to be it. We've contacted both Jones and editorial-page editor Wayne Laugesen for any comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

In the meantime, I think I've deduced a good measurement to help decide if Jones actually wrote the work or not: If the sentence ends in an exclamation point, he wrote it. Imagine!
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

FOX 21 anchor loves Seinfeld

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 5:27 PM

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It was basically a total accident that I stumbled across this on TV Newser but it's too good not to share: FOX 21's morning co-host, Justin Chambers, is quite the Seinfeld fan. 



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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The perils of women in journalism

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Even Earth Woman sees her share of chauvinism. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Even Earth Woman sees her share of chauvinism.
Ah sexism, what an adaptable beast it is.

No matter where you go, or what sector you work in, there are ways for people to make women uncomfortable, and that of course includes the realm of journalism — home to plenty of feisty, formidable women. Enter Journalism While Female — a new Tumblr blog from Women, Action & the Media, a gender equality group — that shares "accounts of everyday sexism." 

The blog is yet only two days old, but there are already a handful of stories, some more gross than others and all of them pretty disappointing. One woman's tale starts with an editor she was working with commenting on her clothing — “Nice outfit today. But wearing a nice outfit doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to get away without fixing that transition ...” — before getting to the task at hand: Editing her story about heroin abuse.

Another recounts a male classmate telling his female counterpart that she was "too sensitive to be a journalist." According to her, she went on to work for a national investigative magazine and he became a shaman and then a massage therapist.

So I decided to ask some of the other women in the newsroom today what their experiences have been. One had a story off the record, but another tells me:
After I had been working at my first reporting job for about a year, a man was hired to do the same job I was doing for $50 more a week than I was paid, which I found out accidentally.

Other than that, I can't really point to any time I felt discriminated against for being female ... I never saw myself as less than any male journalist and don't feel like I was treated differently, but maybe I just wasn't paying attention to that.
As for myself (I am female, which comes as a surprise to folks expecting an Eddie) my experience has been pretty much positive. I've been in the business only about six years, but any kind of sexism I've encountered has come after-hours.

(Digression: Why do men think being insulting is a successful come-on?)

Which brings me to the moral of the post: Don't be an asshole.
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Monday, May 5, 2014

FOX 21 gets slammed for Cosmos broadcast

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 3:28 PM

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If KXRM-TV learned anything last night, it was not to mess with with people's viewing of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Apparently — and I hate to admit this based on how cool the reboot sounds, but I wasn't watching it — multitudes of duplicated commercials interrupted the program multiple times.

Of course, this wasn't just annoying: It was a conspiracy. Just ask the people on Facebook who aren't hip to the fact that FOX 21 is an affiliate, not an offspring, of FOX News.

"In a conservative evangelical town like Colorado Springs, you're 'accidentally' censoring an episode that deals heavily with evolution, climate change and the age of the earth," wrote user Tristan Schwartz. "You have a shitload to answer for. I don't believe for one second that this is outside your control. FIRE WHOEVER NEEDS TO BE FIRED."

The channel responded that the problem came from an issue with its ownership, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, and that it's seeking to re-air the episode. In a call with the Indy today, news director Joe Cole explained that the actual problem was that the wrong block of commercials was automatically queued locally, meaning they all ran at the wrong time.

Anyway, here are some angry tweets about the episode titled "The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth":

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Utilities goes on the offensive vs. Gazette

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 2:25 PM

David Neumann
  • David Neumann
In a highly unusual move, Colorado Springs Utilities has issued two public statements in the wake of two newspaper articles in efforts to have the city's position known about the Neumann Systems Group emissions control technology being installed on the Drake Power Plant downtown.

The statements are in response to two stories that appeared in the Gazette in March, both highly critical of the NSG technology. The articles quote Tim Leigh, who wasn't re-elected to City Council in 2013 after he spent two years on a campaign to discredit the technology. Leigh beat an ethics charge filed by NSG owner David Neumann, who alleged Leigh maligned his business, among other things.

The March 2 article, titled "Costs, doubts rise at Colorado Springs power plant," also quoted Boris Nizamov, a scientist who worked for Neumann:
In fall 2012, Leigh got an email from a chemist who had recently left Neumann Systems Group. Although Leigh would not disclose the name of the sender, The Gazette confirmed it was Boris Nizamov, who was instrumental in creating the Neumann technology and shares credit on 17 patents with David Neumann.

"I left NSG last summer when I came to the conclusion that NSG has no future because there will be no customers other than CSU," he wrote in the email.
The article also quoted Nizamov as saying the NSG system was initially going to cost $13 million and now is estimated at $130 million.

On March 10, Springs Utilities issued a statement titled, "Neumann System right decision for Drake."
In response to the March 2, 2014 article in The Gazette regarding emissions control at the Martin Drake Power Plant, I want to provide the following points to clarify several inaccurate and misleading statements:

The NeuStream scrubber is the correct option for Drake Power Plant to comply with emissions control requirements.

* It is cheaper and more efficient than competing scrubbers;
* Compared to other technologies NeuStream works best for the facility's
unique space requirements;
* It has lower capital, operating and maintenance costs, and
* Uses less water and power than conventional systems.

The cost of the Neumann system on which the 2011 decision was made was $121 million, which includes required plant upgrades (due to inflation current total cost projections are $131 million) compared to an independent study estimate of $168 million for conventional technology (including plant upgrades). Cost estimates quoted before 2011 are not pertinent as there was no design work done and no agreement to build scrubbers at that point.

Our 3-year testing process showed that the NSG system reliably removes 97 percent of sulfur dioxide from plant exhaust compared to 90 percent removal for conventional technology. In addition, an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study was performed which verified the system was scalable to the level needed and provided realistic cost estimates. Early testing indicated that the NSG scrubber could also remove nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, but we chose to go only with SOx removal based on regulatory requirements and financial considerations.

The royalties on future sales were not a factor in the decision to move forward with NeuStream. We are confident that a market exists for the scrubber, and such proceeds would always be an added benefit. Using the NSG scrubber is a sound business decision for our community even if no future sales are made.

Bruce McCormick
Chief Energy Services Officer
Colorado Springs Utilities
PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
On March 30, The Gazette came back with another article, "Cost of scrubbers at Colorado Springs power plant keeps rising." 

But Utilities jumped the gun by issuing a statement two days earlier, on March 28, with the heading "NeuStream - A Sound Investment for Our Customers."
Recent news coverage about an emissions control project at the Drake power plant has lacked complete information, and Colorado Springs Utilities would like to share the facts about the approach we are taking to meet new EPA mandates by the end of 2017.

Colorado Springs Utilities and its board selected a wet scrubber process, called NeuStream in 2011 - a technology developed by local business Neumann Systems Group (NSG). The NSG technology has been rigorously tested and is proven to control sulfur dioxide emissions. Springs Utilities recommended and the Board has supported this solution because it will allow us to meet strict federal regulations, cost less than other technologies, and accommodate the unique construction requirements of the Drake plant.

A Sound Decision

Colorado Springs Utilities is moving forward with construction of the NSG project. Our goal is to hire as many local contractors/vendors as possible to build the system, providing needed economic stimulus for the local economy.

Changing direction at this point is not in our customers' best interest. Springs Utilities has already made the majority of the required investment in the NSG project. And based upon extensive testing, we remain confident that the NSG technology remains the best approach for Drake.

Facts about Drake

Drake reliably generates about one-third of our electricity and is a key reason we can deliver cost effective electric service to our customers. Colorado Springs Utilities electric rates for residential and commercial customers are lower than both Xcel and Blackhills Energy in all categories. Additionally, Drake and all of our power plants meet or exceed all EPA air quality standards.
Answers to frequently asked questions


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Has the price increased?
The cost of the Neumann scrubber on which the 2011 decision was made was $111.8 million. When accounting for required and expected site improvements (necessary for any type of scrubber), as well as price escalation for construction and materials, the 2013 projection is $131 million. Cost estimates quoted before 2011 are not representative as there was no design work done and no agreement to build scrubbers at that point.

Does it work?

The 3-year testing process, verified by an independent 3rd party, demonstrated that the NSG system is capable of reliably removing 97 percent of sulfur dioxide from plant exhaust. An Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study was performed which verified the system was scalable to the level needed and provided realistic cost estimates. NSG system components are commonly used in a wide variety of applications, including power plants. The proprietary NSG process has been effectively used in other applications as well.
Did NSG originally expect removal of all emissions?

Early testing demonstrated positive results for removal of SOx, NOx, particulates and CO2, and NSG believes there is market potential for removing these substances. However, Colorado Springs Utilities purchased only SOx removal to meet regulatory compliance requirements at the lowest cost for the following key reasons:

Particulate removal and mercury standards are already being met with existing emissions control equipment;
NOx removal can be achieved at lower cost using other methods, so NOx was not purchased from NSG; and
No regulatory mandate currently exists for CO2 removal.

Has Colorado Springs Utilities benefitted from the sales of NSG to other customers?

Using the NSG scrubber is a sound business decision for our community even if no future sales are made. We believe that a market exists for the scrubber, although, no other company has purchased the technology at this point. As scrubbers are sold, our agreement with the vendor allows for proceeds to benefit our customers.

Why invest $131 million on an aging coal plant?

While the Martin Drake site has been in operation for over 80 years, the three units currently in operation are units 5, 6 and 7, built in 1962, 1968 and 1974, respectively. The Drake power plant has been well maintained over the years to operate efficiently and reliably while meeting regulatory requirements. The units have had continuous runs exceeding 100 days several times in recent years, which is an industry benchmark of excellence. The plant complies with all EPA environmental regulations.

The Drake facility provides about one third of the community's electricity needs. Shutting the plant down would require purchasing power from for-profit utilities or spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new power plant, which would have adverse rate impacts for our customers. The Utilities Board and our customers are currently reviewing a third-party study on decommissioning options and will make a recommendation on the future of the plant.
The release also contained this comparison:

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Meanwhile, NSG filed suit on March 28 against Nizamov, alleging that he signed a nondisclosure agreement when he began working as a consultant for NSG on June 21, 2004. In it, Nizamov agreed to "protect proprietary information." Nizamov left NSG Aug. 19, 2011. In December 2012, he agreed to a settlement agreement with NSG after "he made public certain confidential information about NSG that he obtained when he worked for the Company," Nuemann's lawsuit states.

Yet, the lawsuit states, he disclosed information to The Gazette for his March 2 report.

The lawsuit also alleges that Nizamov's disclosures interfered with NSG's contract with Utilities and thereby jeopardized that contract, as well as a potential new contract for scrubber technology at Ray Nixon Power Plant south of Colorado Springs.

Nizamov's response to the lawsuit characterizes the newspaper article as "the exchange of ideas in a healthy public debate regarding a public works project. Any statement made by Mr. Nizamov was simply a spontaneous remark that was injected into this debate."

The lawsuit also states that the only statement by Nizamov "that is not clearly in the public domain is the '$13 million' figure that was misquoted and relates to estimated costs of the NSG scrubber six years ago. However, a figure of 'less than $20 million' has been in the public domain for a long time."

Moreover, the response says, if Nizamov did want to inject his opinions into the debate, those statements would be protected by the First Amendment.

On Tuesday, NSG issued this release:
Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (NSG) has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Boris Nizamov alleging violations of the employment agreements he signed when he was employed by NSG. The suit is tied in part to actions by reporter Dave Phillips and the Gazette in publishing information provided to them by Tim Leigh and Dr. Nizamov. In his employment agreements with NSG, Dr. Nizamov agreed to, among other things, not disclose confidential and proprietary information that he obtained when he was employed by the company. NSG has alleged that Dr. Nizamov disclosed NSG’s confidential and proprietary information, including technical, project-specific, cost, and customer information to third parties on several occasions. An initial hearing on the case will be held Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in El Paso County District Court. Joel Neckers of Wheeler, Trigg, O’Donnell LLP will represent NSG. The hearing involves NSG’s request that the Court enter a temporary restraining order against Dr. Nizamov preventing Dr. Nizamov from disclosing information in violation of his employment agreements.

During the almost five and one-half years Dr. Nizamov was employed by NSG as a senior scientist, he received total compensation in excess of $700,000. While at NSG, Dr Nizamov was named as co-inventor on 39 US and international patents and patents pending for which NSG holds all the rights. He also gained his US citizenship during his time at NSG. When Dr. Nizamov voluntarily resigned from the company, he gave notice in writing and stated, “I appreciate the opportunity I was given at NSG and I want to thank you for it.” During his out-processing from the company less than two weeks later and after he had been denied a follow-on consulting agreement with the company, he made broad accusations of wrong doing by the company. He declined, in writing, to elaborate. Dr. Nizamov did not respond to a subsequent second written attempt by the company to obtain specifics. More recently Dr. Nizamov interviewed with Dave Philipps, reporter from the Gazette, and released an email and statements about NSG which he had previously sent to Mr. Tim Leigh under a false name.

According to recent publications, Dr. Nizamov works for a company in Denver called either Pioneer Astronautics or Pioneer Energy where his work involves development of a carbon capture system for application to enhanced oil recovery. Dr. Neumann, NSG’s President, said: “This is an area that NSG has been involved with dating back to laboratory experiments in 2007 and 2009 measurements at the Martin Drake plant. I am concerned that given Dr Nizamov’s demonstrated disregard for his legal responsibilities to protect NSG confidential and proprietary data, he may have employed NSG owned intellectual property and trade secrets in the performance of his duties at Pioneer.”

NSG is an advanced technology company conducting externally funded research and development projects in emissions controls and carbon capture. Its largest contract is for desulfurization equipment for the Martin Drake power plant owned by Colorado Springs Utilities. Most of the forty+ contracts and grants received by NSG over the past decade have been competitively awarded by the federal government. NSG is pursuing national and international market opportunities for its NeuStream® emission control and carbon capture systems. More information on NSG can be found at www.neumannsystemsgroup.com.
At a court hearing Tuesday afternoon, attended by one reporter, yours truly, District Judge Gregory Werner granted NSG's request for a temporary restraining order against Nizamov disclosing information. A hearing for a longer-term injunction is set for April 11.

Nizamov's attorney, Gregory O'Boyle, argued, "If Mr. Nizamov is commenting about information in the public domain, he has a right to do that. This agreement doesn't prevent him from doing that."

NSG's lawyer, Joel Steven Neckers, countered that Nizamov's statements have violated the confidentiality agreement. "He's done this four separate times," he said. "The information was not in the public domain when he was speaking. NSG is involved in a very public debate on its scrubber technology. Having past or current employees talking about price and other things causes harm."

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Field guide to Colorado stereotypes

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 2:07 PM

KONSTANTIN YOLSHIN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Konstantin Yolshin / Shutterstock.com
Cliches don't become cliches unless there's an element of truth to them.

And while that's less often the case with stereotypes, Boulder magazine The Rooster recently managed to inject a bit of truth into its caricatures of Colorado "types," at least some of whom may have a ring of familiarity to you.

Maybe you'll recognize the "ex-weed dealer who won't stop calling you even though weed is legal."

Or the "mountain man who still thinks Y2K is a thing."

Or, for Manitou residents, there's the "penniless trustafarian who is only penniless in the sense that he's converted all his change to cryptocurrency."

So are they missing anybody?

Well, there's the screaming, swearing, scary, shirtless guy who's always jogging through my neighborhood. But that's a phenomenon that has yet to reach critical mass. 

Anyway, if you're feeling snarky on a Monday afternoon, you can go have a look here.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Student vote could possibly end UCCS' newspaper

Posted By on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Part of a flyer touting the paper's efforts towards sustainability.
  • Part of a flyer touting the paper's efforts towards sustainability.
A 2010 sustainability initiative that began in a geography and environmental studies class may ultimately kill the print edition of The Scribe, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' student newspaper founded in 1966. It might all depend on how a vote plays out over the coming days.

Here's how a recent editorial described the initial 2010 vote that requires the paper to kill its print edition by Aug. 1, 2015, which 176 students voted for, and 104 against, in a campus of 8,500 at the time:

"Considering more than three times the number of students that voted to do away with this print newspaper actually pick up this print newspaper every week, it’s a tough sell to think students as a whole don’t like having this print newspaper," the piece says. "It’s a piece of history and a piece of UCCS."

"I see it as important for all students," says UCCS professor and Scribe advisor Laura Eurich (who also periodically pens a column for the Indy and often sends us interns). "Number one, we are the watchdog. And number two, it is an educational opportunity — mostly [for] communications majors but we have plenty of non-communication majors who work there. And, really, with a lack of journalism programs in the state it is a little bit of a lab for journalism. ... It would be like asking chemistry students to learn chemistry without the chemicals in the lab."

One fear is that if this follow-up vote being held from today until March 14 is unsuccessful, then a digital-only presence won't be sufficient to inform the campus. The paper currently prints around 600 copies, and just moved the process to a local printer using soy ink on biodegradable paper. Previous experiments with web exclusives yielded low readership.

"In last year's academic year, we did some online-only editions, because of budgeting, and we really did find our readership was down when it was online-only," says Eurich. "Because people don't seek it out — they pick it up because they're on their way to class and there's a rack in front of them."

The paper says it also sold around $12,000 in print advertising last year, which was used to pay back debt and offset costs normally covered by student fees. Because the newspaper's site is moving to a server hosted by UCCS, it would be unable to sell ads of any kind there.

And either way, the readership's not there, says editor-in-chief Jesse Byrnes in an email: "For some large outlets it makes sense to have an online-only format," he writes, "but The Scribe doesn't have the online readership of a BuzzFeed or HuffPo to generate the online ad revenues that we've been able to generate through print."

"We do already have an iPhone app, and our Green Action Fund has approved creating an Android app as well, so if our paperless re-resolution fails, we will have money from the Green Action Fund to create a Droid app," says Eurich. "So, no matter what platform you're on, you'll be able to have an app for The Scribe — but I still don't think that's going to make people read it. ...

"I mean, we need to be everywhere anyway, but without that print version to remind people that we exist, and if our numbers come down, I wouldn't blame student government for not funding us in the future, if we don't have a solid readership."

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Monday, January 20, 2014

The 16 best reactions to KKTV dropping the Broncos game

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Midway through the first quarter of yesterday's AFC Championship Game — which saw the Denver Broncos defeat the New England Patriots 26-16, sending Denver to its seventh Super Bowl —  KKTV's signal froze for about five minutes. Not only were hundreds of thousands of people forced to stare at Tom Brady, but the Broncos were driving (and eventually kicked a field goal to open the scoring).

"There's probably 30 computers that are all online that make the signal get to the airwaves," explained general manager Nick Matesi to the Gazette. "One of them crashed and there was no way to go around it."

This sent people, including yours truly, into paroxysms of panic, which KKTV tried to soothe with a Facebook post. Naturally, this just gave everybody a place to freak out, and what follows are some of our favorites from among the 320 comments.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

KOAA almost hires infamous anchor

Posted By on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 at 12:47 PM

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OK, so "infamous" may be a bit strong, but former Wichita, Kan., anchor Justin Kraemer made a little bit of a name for himself a few weeks ago, when he ended a 10 p.m. newscast the same way I end most work days: by saying, "Let's get the fuck out of here." It came while the credits were rolling on a Saturday night newscast, and by Monday Kraemer was unemployed. (See video here.)

Then rumors started to swirl that Kraemer was headed for KOAA, here in Colorado Springs. We looked into it last Thursday. "Thank you for checking," responded general manager Evan Pappas via email. "Despite reports, Justin Kraemer will not be working at KOAA."

What we didn't know at the time, but later learned from the Kansas City Star, was that he was going to.

But on Thursday morning, station managers called and told him they couldn’t offer him a job after all, he said.

“The conversation was very clinical and professional, and they informed me that this got a lot more attention than anyone could have possibly imagined when everything got started,” Kraemer said. “They’re in a difficult situation because they don’t want to get national or global publicity just for making a reporter hire.”

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