The Denver Post v. The Capital

A flagship local newspaper… plays a critically important role in its city and state: It provides a public record of the good and the bad, serves as a watchdog against public and private corruption, offers a free marketplace of ideas and stands as a lighthouse reflective and protective of — and accountable to — a community’s values and goals. A news organization like ours ought to be seen, especially by our owner, as a necessary public institution vital to the very maintenance of our grand democratic experiment.

Denver Post Editorial Board, April 6, 2018

“I had to do it because it was the right thing to do,” he said. “If that means that I lose my job trying to stand up for my readers, then that means I’m not working for the right people anyway.”

Chuck Plunkett, Denver Post Editorial Page Editor, as quoted in the New York Times, April 7, 2018

The New York Times reports that the Denver Post editorial may have been inspired in part by a rebellion at the Los Angeles Times, which is owned by the same publisher as the Capital:

The move at The Post followed a prolonged, slow-burning rebellion at The Los Angeles Times, where journalists agitated against the paper’s owner, the media company Tronc. Newsroom complaints about Tronc’s leadership helped lead to the sale of the newspaper to a billionaire medical entrepreneur, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who had been a major shareholder in Tronc.

Various Sources

Editorial: As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved, Denver Post, April 6, 2018

May, Charlie, The Denver Post takes a stand against layoffs and its owners, Alden Global; Faced with layoffs the paper pleaded with its hedge fund owner to do good journalism, or sell it to owners who will, Salon, April 8, 2018

Ember, Sydney, Denver Post Rebels Against Its Hedge-Fund Ownership, New York Times, April 7, 2018

Platts, Barbara, Aspen Untucked: The importance of the Denver Post, The Aspen Times, April 12, 2018

The Montgomery Advertiser Versus The Capital

[T]he nearly two-centuries-old Montgomery Advertiser printed a front-page editorial apologizing for lynching coverage that dehumanized black victims.

–Staples, Brant, When Southern Newspapers Justified Lynching, New York Times, May 5, 2018

Critiques of Tronc, the Capital’s Owner

The Los Angeles Times Versus The Capital

Note: The Los Angeles Times has been owned by the same company, Tronc, that owns the Capital.

In recent years, as the disruptions of the digital age continued to pummel the newspaper industry, Tronc made a number of awkward attempts to reshape The Los Angeles Times. The company, in a widely ridiculed move, changed its name from Tribune Publishing to Tronc — short for Tribune Online Content — in 2016, and tried to push a technology-driven approach to journalism….

[One staff member] called finally being free of Tronc “Liberation Day.” Another wrote, “Hallelujah” ….

In 2000, the Chandler family, which had owned the paper for decades, sold it to the Tribune Company. As it went through other iterations of management, including the real estate tycoon Sam Zell and hedge funds, the once storied paper fell into disrepair with steep staff cuts….

–Arango, Tim, Los Angeles Times, Searching for Stability, Names Norman Pearlstine Top Editor, New York Times, June 18, 2018

The Daily News Versus The Capital

Daily News Newsroom Cut in Half by Tronc as Top Editor Is Ousted, New York times, July 23, 2018. Jim Rich, Daily News editor: “If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.” After his firing by Tronc, he changed his Twitter bio to read: “Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.”

Farhi, Paul, The city that never sleeps finds that it’s running out of reporters to report, Washington Post, July 23, 2018.

The worst of it is that the politicians know nobody is watching, in a state where everything from economic development to the electoral system is plagued by systematic corruption,” said Ben Smith, … a former New York Daily News columnist

Pope, Kyle, Who suffers when local news disappears, Columbia Journalism Review, July 23, 2018.