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Monday, May 23, 2016

Gazette fails to make disclosure in land-swap editorial

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 10:03 AM

click to enlarge Who's behind the editorial? Always good policy to unmask conflicting connections. - WILLIAM CLIFFORD
  • William Clifford
  • Who's behind the editorial? Always good policy to unmask conflicting connections.
In the news business, it's crucial that readers be informed of any conflicts of interest that exist between a news organization and the subject of the reporting.

The reason is obvious: Readers deserve to know whether there are forces at work that aren't readily apparent.

As the city's proposed land swap with The Broadmoor has unfolded, the Gazette, which is owned by an entity that's owned by Broadmoor owner Philip Anschutz, has inconsistently disclosed that connection. Some news stories have carried the disclosure; some haven't.

In an April editorial supporting the trade, the Gazette added this footnote at the bottom: "EDITOR'S NOTE: The Broadmoor is owned by The Gazette's parent company and operated under separate and independent management."

(Let's digress for one second to challenge that statement. Under separate and independent management? Christian Anschutz is a member of the newspaper's editorial board. He's Philip Anschutz's son. That doesn't sound very much like independent management.)

In any event, in another editorial that appeared in the Sunday, May 22 edition, openly supporting the land swap, the Gazette makes no disclosure of its connection to The Broadmoor.

And readers weren't fooled.

From comments on the newspaper's site:

"Who wrote this article, Anschutz himself? ... Ya'll are so pathetic you hide behind the name
"The Gazette editorial board". I can see why b/c nobody likes you and you would be black-listed in this town. Terrible cronysim-journalism."

"The Gazette should be embarrassed that it did not disclose that the Broadmoor and the Gazette are both owned by Philip Anschutz." "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Even a land swap supporter was nonplussed.
"I support this swap. With that being said the Gazette should absolutely express that their ownership is the same as the Broadmoor ownership so readers can understand there might be a conflict of interest with this editorial. That is simply good journalism and the omission suggests there is a hidden agenda as opposed to transparency and that absolutely hurts the credibility of the article as a whole."

(Editor's note: It's also worth mentioning here that the Denver Post published a lengthy piece in its Sunday issue on the land swap controversy, including numerous links to other stories and online sources on both sides. All of the links to media coverage aside from the Post were to stories in the Gazette, and none to the Independent or any other medium.)

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