September 20, 2016

An earthquake rocked Colorado's media landscape this week, journo's first podcast, *another* Denver fact-checking outfit, and more Colorado local news & media

The tectonic plates are shifting under Colorado's media landscape

OK, the headline on this newsletter might be a little hyperbolic. But for those who follow media news closely in Colorado, this week rocked the industry. First, Denver Post political reporter Joey Bunch announced he was leaving to join The Gazette in Colorado Springs, which is beefing up its statewide political profile. But then, Gazette political reporter Megan Schrader announced she was leaving The Gazette to join The Denver Post's editorial board. This comes after Jim Trotter's recent move from Rocky Mountain PBS to The Gazette, and Woody Paige also leaving The Denver Post for the Colorado Springs paper. 

If that wasn't enough, The Colorado Statesman, a POLITICO-like subscription-based trade journal, effectively laid off its editorial department— just 50 days out from the election. I'm told the paper slashed half its budget. Some of the writers will still write, but on a freelance basis,
and they'll focus more on the weekly print paper than on the website, which was frequently updated. Also on the cutting room floor in Colorado: four people at BizWest Media's Fort Collins and Boulder offices got laid off and the publication will shift to a monthly print schedule. 

Whew, head spinning? Let this stop you. F
ormer Denver Post journalist Tina Griego has returned to Colorado after four years on the East Coast, and is now an editor at The Colorado Independent. Check out her first essay about the new, gentrified, displaced Denver she found upon her return. 

OK, so how about we talk about some solutions...

I did just that this week, and it was something new for me. A podcast. For my first one for CJR's United States Project I spoke with some folks at the Solutions Journalism Network and a small-town reporter in Taos about why seven newsrooms in southern Colorado and New Mexico are collaborating on a compelling new endeavor.

A teaser:
Crime and corruption, troubled schools, drug epidemics, natural disasters—the news deals with some pretty discouraging subjects.

But it doesn’t have to be negative. In recent years, a movement for “solutions-oriented journalism” that highlights promising responses to social challenges has picked up steam. The Solutions Journalism Network, one of the leading advocates for the approach, has trained newsrooms around the country. And earlier this year, the network launched “Small Towns, Big Change,” a partnership with seven local newsrooms in southern Colorado and New Mexico designed to bring solutions journalism to smaller communities in the rural Mountain West. Over the summer, I caught up with a few of the people involved in that project: Ben Goldfarb and Leah Todd of the Solutions Journalism Network and reporter J.R. Logan of the Taos News, one of the participating news outlets.
I hope you'll give a listen to our conversation about how to write a “solutions” story without it coming off like a puff piece, why newsrooms who might normally compete with each other decided to collaborate, and how a solutions-oriented approach creates opportunities for local outlets to take a broader perspective. 

Come for the virtual reality, stay for The Cannabist profile in Poynter 

Last week, journalists from across the country realized how far away DIA is from downtown Denver when they descended on the Mile High City for the annual Online News Association conference. Plenty of  #ONA2016 participants used the opportunity to do some work, and at least one of them, Benjamin Mullin, came away with a profile of The Cannabist, or, "How a scrappy team at The Denver Post grew one of America’s biggest marijuana sites." 

From the piece:
Like most news organizations, The Cannabist is thinking beyond its website. Baca just finished recording the 78th episode of The Cannabist Show, a podcast that gets between 2,500 and 5,000 plays per week. The site is now starting to find sponsors for the podcast, which features conversations with industry experts and regulators. Regular features on the podcast include "The Week in Weed" and a light-hearted segment about the various insider-y terms used by those in the know.
"Throughout his tenure as editor," the item continues, "Baca says he's been open about the fact that he's a regular user of marijuana and says his firsthand experience makes him a better journalist."

Best Colorado journalist Facebook post of the week

Not that I plan this as a recurring feature— and no one gets a trophy— but I LOLed at a Facebook post by USA Today's Denver correspondent Trevor Hughes this week. 
My Burning Man expense report is the most creative writing I do all year.
Hughes was dispatched to the annual event for multiple days of multi-media coverage.

What you missed on the Sunday front pages across Colorado

Did you spend Sunday reading all the material from the tote bag you got at the Online News Association conference in Denver and neglect all the news fit for the front pages of Colorado newspapers? 

Well, The Greeley Tribune looked back at a big flood that happened two years ago. The Loveland Reporter-Herald looked back a big flood that happened 40 years ago. The Longmont Times-Call reported a teacher and her husband, also a teacher, were killed in a car wreck. The Pueblo Chieftain fronted coverage of a Trump rally in the Springs as did The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel ran a piece about how red flags preceded a toddler's killing. Steamboat Today & Sunday published a cover story called "Extreme Behavior" about "unprecedented activity" at fires this summer. Some school districts won't tell The Boulder Daily Camera about their policies of seat belts on school buses. Vail Daily reported how the U.S. fly fishing team came in third in the world championship held this year in Vail. (Spain won.) The Fort Collins Coloradoan fronted a feature on the rift among craft breweries over a Big Beer purchase of Breckenridge Brewery. The Aspen Times fronted coverage of a local balloon festival. The Denver Post reported on the bounce-back of a rare Colorado river sucker fish

Against awfulness: The editor of The Gazette explained the paper's recent expansion in a column

Gazette editor Vince Bzdek laid out for readers this week how the Colorado Springs newspaper has been snapping up journalistic talent from around the state— and why. 
More than anything, we want our newspaper to be your daily meeting ground and our website your electric mirror. We want to be you. There's nothing awful about that.
In the column he named recent hires and let readers know what else is in store. Bzdek took the helm of The Gazette this spring. 

Last Thing. Another fact-checking operation pops up in Denver

Fact-checking political statements has become a cottage industry in Denver, something CJR noted in a 2013 piece. Denver's KUSA does "Truth Tests," Denver's KCNC does "Reality Check." And, as I've reported, a Denver-based Libertarian news site has even fact-checked the fact checkers. This year, Politifact moved into Colorado, partnering with Denver's KMGH. After the 2014 midterm elections, one TV reporter suggested the station might have even spent too much time on fact-checking than original reporting, saying, "Frankly, it’s easier for the station." Now another fact-checking operation has joined the fray. Enter CU News Corps, a project of students and faculty at CU-Boulder's J-school, which is partnering with The Denver Post on a series of fact-checking articles during this year's election cycle. You can read the first installment here.

I'm Corey Hutchins, the Colorado-based correspondent for Columbia Journalism Review's United States Project and a journalist for The Colorado Independent. I hope you enjoy the work CJR does to monitor and support local accountability journalism around the country. Follow me on Twitter, reply or subscribe here, or e-mail me at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.