Denver Post covering Colorado shooting without a copy desk

Journal-isms | The Buttry Diary
In the 13 years since the massacres at Colorado’s Columbine High School and last week’s tragedy in Aurora, Colo., The Denver Post has lost dozens of newsroom staffers, Editor Greg Moore told readers of Richard Prince’s Journal-isms.

“I was not here for Columbine, but the other day we were looking at those Columbine papers and marveling at the talent that is no longer here,” Moore said. “My guess is the staff was around 240 or so in 1999. Today we have about 170.”

The Post is also covering one of the biggest breaking news stories in the country without copy editors. The paper announced in May that it was eliminating its copy desk, spreading that responsibility to reporters and editors throughout the newsroom. Moore said:

I believe we have been up to the challenge of handling this huge story. We have had some issues responding to the normal crises of grammatical copy and typos but nothing super embarrassing. I have never seen us more meticulous, something we have to be with the staff losses we have incurred. People have incredible capacity to rise to the challenge and we are. Everyone is using every skill they have to make our newspapers and our website the best they can be. And they are succeeding.

The staff is also making greater use of the Web. In a piece about how the Post used social media to cover the theater shooting, Steve Buttry quotes Post reporter Jordan Steffen:

Twitter was the most efficient and fastest way to keep readers updated on both the atmosphere of several locations and new information streaming in.The ability to quickly share quotes from friends of victims and others at the make shift memorial kept my followers and the Denver Post readers in touch with how the community was responding to the shooting.

How news spread of Colorado theater shooting | How to approach sources on Twitter when covering tragedies like the Colorado shooting

Clarification: This post was updated to more accurately reflect how many staffers the Denver Post has lost since Columbine.

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  • Anonymous

    In general, I like the Denver Post, but I’ve noticed a marked increase in small errors and the occasional whopper. As a former copy editor in a shrinking newsroom (is that redundant?), I understand the pressure on reporters to produce more copy on more platforms. If I were an online-only reader, I wouldn’t mind — you get what you pay for. But as a subscriber to the print product, I hope for a greater commitment to quality and accuracy. It doesn’t matter whether a story gets two reads or seven. It does matter who is doing the reading, and how much time they have. Clean copy doesn’t happen by accident, and I’m grateful for the many errors prevented by the Post’s dwindling staff. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can under the circumstances, as are all newsrooms.

  • Anonymous

    In general, I like the Denver Post, but I’ve noticed a marked increase in small errors and the occasional whopper. As a former copy editor in a shrinking newsroom (is that redundant?), I understand the pressure on reporters to produce more copy on more platforms. If I were an online-only reader, I wouldn’t mind — you get what you pay for. But as a subscriber to the print product, I hope for a greater commitment to quality and accuracy. It doesn’t matter whether a story gets two reads or seven. It does matter who is doing the reading, and how much time they have. Clean copy doesn’t happen by accident, and I’m grateful for the many errors prevented by the Post’s dwindling staff. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can under the circumstances, as are all newsrooms.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000193124983 Edgar Perez

    No word
    we can imagine, senseless, despicable, horrific, surreal, tragic, can seem
    to explain it all. Our condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims
    of the Aurora, Colorado shooting of July 20, 2012 bit.ly/SQvFiQ

     

  • http://twitter.com/Editer Brian Baresch

    I don’t care if it’s working in practice. Everyone knows it can’t work in theory.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

     We don’t have a designated copy desk. As an editor, I made the change.

    Thanks,
    ~Mallary

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

     We don’t have a designated copy desk. As an editor, I made the change.

    Thanks,
    ~Mallary

  • Jay Hauser

    Did the copy desk make the change? Oh the irony.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Good point. We’ve clarified the language so that it’s more accurate.

    ~Mallary Tenore
    Poynter.org

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P47M3JEFSLIMUK5ZTP7D5FESH4 Vlae

    How is going from 240 to 170 “losing half your staff”? Should that 1999 number be 340?