Morning Mediawire: Can Denver shame its paper's vulture capitalist owners into selling?
The former editor of the Denver Post called it “one of the most courageous things I have seen in journalism in years … Truly speaking truth to power.”
To Bloomberg View’s Joe Nocera, “This is what brave looks like.’
The executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News and the East Bay News said he was proud the Denver Post’s leaders confronted “the very real existential threat to their news organization and their sister ones” — which include San Jose, the Orange County Register, The Pioneer Press in St. Paul and the Boston Herald.
Alden Global Capital has slashed thousands of newspaper jobs and reportedly diverted hundreds of millions of dollars from its newspaper chain to support its other investments. On March 14, it announced it would be firing 30 more Denver Post reporters — nearly a third of its remaining staff — to keep 20 percent profit margins.
In a series of articles over the weekend, the Denver Post editorial section asked its cost-cutting owners to let them serve their readers right. If not, the newspaper asked, sell the paper to someone who will.
“Reduction in quality leads to a reduction of trust,” it wrote in an editorial. “It’s time for those Coloradans who care most about their civic future to get involved and see to it that Denver gets the newsroom it deserves.’’ The editorial, which like the package was posted without telling the hedge fund owners, has been the site’s most popular article all weekend.
Gregory L. Moore, the longtime editor who left in 2016, noted in an article how The Post supported Denver International Airport and Mile High Stadium, exposed corruption and helped the community heal after fires, floods and gun violence such as Aurora or Columbine.
In his forward-looking article, entitled “Who will step up and save the Denver Post?” Moore wrote: “I don’t know how long The Post is going to be around, but I can tell you the watchdog as we know it is being put to sleep.”
Denver’s mayor echoed Moore. “Denver is so proud of our flagship newspaper for speaking out,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement. “For a New York hedge fund to treat our paper like any old business and not a critical member of our community is offensive. We urge the owners to rethink their business strategy or get out of the news business. Denver stands with our paper and stands ready to be part of the solution that supports local journalism and saves the 125-year-old Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire.”
Reporters said they were cheered by the widespread support from the community — and their leadership. “I am so proud to work for this brave newspaper staff,” reporter Elizabeth Hernandez tweeted.
Over the weekend, Thomas Peele, part of a Pulitzer-winning team just last year at the East Bay News in California, posted a picture of the extensive renovations going on at the Alden chairman’s multi-million-dollar second home on Long Island.
The Denver Post already has let go the bulk of its copy editors, which has led to soul-killing errors (and corrections) like this on Friday:
Later, the Post tried to make the best of the mistake, and created a contest: “We’re confused. Can you show us what Coors Field looks like?: We deeply regret the mistake. But here’s where we make good on it, dear reader.”
We’ll be following this Denver story all week. Now, here are other stories that may affect you today.
‘YOU ARE THE PRODUCT’: Facebook will begin notifying users today if their data was accessed and mishandled by the Trump campaign vendor Cambridge Analytica. The New York Times reports on Facebook’s role in hijacking that information of up to 71 million Americans, which may have been exploited by Trump forces in the 2016 presidential campaign.
TRUMP LOVED NEWS DESERTS: A new analysis shows that Trump outperformed previous nominee Mitt Romney in so-called "news deserts" — areas in America lacking in trusted news outlets. Using social media and partisan outlets, Trump swamped areas with fewer households subscribing to news outlets, Politico's Shawn Musgrave and Matthew Nussbaum report.
TRUMP LASHES, AGAIN: Angered at a deeply sourced profile of his chief of staff, the president tweeted that the Washington Post is more fiction than fact, “more like a poorly written novel.” Post book reviewer Ron Charles took umbrage, defending … novels. Post reporter Dan Zak recalled the 1972 swing at the hometown paper by Richard Nixon (before he was forced to quit and 14 of his staff went to jail): “No reporter from The Washington Post is ever to be in the White House again. And no photographer either. ... Is that clear? None. Ever.” Here’s the tape.
MONITORING YOU: The Department of Homeland Security is seeking someone "to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers." Wait, what?
RESILIENCE: The feisty two-person newspaper made it through the northern California wildfires, but an auto break-in cost them their computers and set them back a few weeks. No matter, they’re back up now, reports the SF Chronicle’s Sophie Haigney.
PATERNO: At 23, she broke the Penn State football pedophilia scandal. Pulitzer-winning reporter and CNN correspondent Sara Ganim was a consultant to Barry Levinson’s HBO movie on the incident, with actress Riley Keough as … her. “Paterno,” which debuted Saturday, focuses on the longtime football coach Joe Paterno, but it also shows how journalists got the story that brought him down. Ganim hopes it will shed a light on underappreciated local reporters. “ I can only hope it will inspire others who are grinding it out every day for a very little paycheck and very little reward."
BLACKLIST: Journalists who speak out against sexual harassment at work are often shunned by other news organizations, CJR reports. After 18 months, Juliet Huddy, one of the female journalists at Fox News victimized by fired host Bill O’Reilly, finally got a job last week at WABC Radio. She says breaking the silence definitely hurt her prospects. Only one of the at least 15 women who reported sexual harassment at Fox News over the past 18 months has gotten a job in TV news. In numerous interviews, Yardena Schwartz found “fear of being blacklisted is yet another reason many women who work in news have stayed silent.”
WORKING AT SINCLAIR: A former Sinclair journalist says he was forbidden to do LGBTQ stories and forced to ask conservative-slanted questions. "I’m a Republican ― and I was still pissed by it," Jonathan Beaton tells the Huffington Post. In case you missed it, 13 journalism school heads denounced the Sinclair-ordered on-air promos by local TV anchors.
SINCLAIR ISN’T THE ONLY ONE: A Twitter thread by Democracy Fund’s Josh Stearns points out that Nexstar is another major media company that controls a lot of local TV stations: “Nexstar, which bought out Media General in 2015, controls 170 broadcast stations (just under the FCC’s 39% national ownership cap). For comparison Sinclair owns 173 broadcast stations (their Tribune purchase would add 42 more to that list)." He goes on to opine that it’s not a partisan issue, but consolidation that is diminishing the quality of local news coverage.
CO-OPTING THE PATIENTS: Pharmaceutical companies gave at least $116 million to patient advocacy groups in a single year, Kaiser Health News reports. It created a database of such nonprofits — and found 594 groups took Big Pharma cash. What do the companies get for that money? “Notably,” KHN says, “such groups have been silent or slow to complain about high or escalating prices, a prime concern of patients.”
NOT PRO-LIFE: Kirsten Powers writes in USA Today that it wasn’t Kevin Williamson’s stance on abortion that got him fired from the Atlantic; it was that he wanted women to suffer.
HIRED: Emily Nemens, co-editor of Southern Review, as new editor of the Paris Review.
PROMOTED: Theresa Vargas, an enterprise reporter on The Post and formerly of Newsday, to Post Metro columnist.
What we’re reading
LULU’S CHOICE: At 16, the U.S. citizen daughter of deported Mexicans must choose between life with her parents and life in America. By Kevin Sullivan.
FLIPPED OFF TRUMP, LOST HER JOB: Juli Briskman, a weekend cyclist who became famous when a presidential motorcade rode alongside her, writes why she’s suing for her First Amendment right to do so. “Trump,’’ she writes, “doesn’t need to punish me for my speech if fear of him spurs my employer to do it.”
BYE-BYE PING PONG: High rents and a more mature workplace have prompted tech companies to ditch their game rooms for new desk space, the Boston Globe reports. “Play spaces that were designed to recruit twentysomething workers are out; low-key but tasteful furniture is in, as are areas set aside for quiet work and group collaboration,” Andy Rosen writes. “You know, like a regular office.”
AWWW: A father is raising his 11-year-girl as best he can after his wife dies. But he can't braid hair. Enter the school bus driver. By Allison Klein. (Hat tip: Neil Parekh)
Screengrab, via KSL
THE VOTE: Conservative columnist George Will says there’s no reason not to give 4.7 million Americans who served their time the right to vote. Will: Fourteen states and the District of Columbia already automatically restore voting rights to felons after completion of their sentences. Will’s other point: “Who is comfortable with elected politicians winnowing the electorate?"
THE POWER OF A GOOD EDITOR: The Chicago Tribune’s Mary Schmich, who is famous for good advice, ticks off 10 things a writer needs in a good editor. On the departure of her longtime editor, Mark Jacob, she adds this: “A willingness to fight like Mark Jacob — for the stories that need to be told, for the resources it takes to tell them and for all the writers who without an editor’s guiding light can feel like dinghies lost at sea.” (Hat-tip: Ann Marie Lipinski)
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