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What do Denver Post layoffs mean for journalism in Colorado?

Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 12:31:48-04

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DENVER — The news broke Wednesday that the largest newspaper in Colorado would lose about 30 percent of its newsroom staff, as downsizing continues at the Denver Post. Denver7 decided to tackle the issue from a 360 point of view, including what this means for journalism in our state.

Starting with the Post, editor Lee Ann Colacioppo gave the news to the staff Wednesday afternoon, causing an outpouring of emotion from The Post’s journalists and others who have watched the 126-year-old paper have its staff cut repeatedly over the past few years under Denver-based MediaNews Group (known as Digital First Media), which is controlled primarily by a billion-dollar New York hedge fund, Alden Global Capital.

Colacioppo told Denver7 it was the hardest thing she’s had to do.

“The revenue streams for papers just haven’t quite caught up with the cost of doing business,” she said. 

Revenue streams include the competition with sites that give away content for free and digital advertising. The Post recently put up a paywall, and has reported increased online traffic, but still felt the burn of cuts coming from corporate.

And they will be felt across the community. 

“Every time a journalist loses their job in this city,” the Post’s editor said, “the community is poorer for it. We need more people doing this work not fewer.”

There's More to the Story | Denver Post to cut 30 more newsroom jobs

The Denver Newspaper Guild is the union that represents newspaper workers in town. They strongly disagreed with the layoffs because of the impact on the community. 

“Their capacity to cover the news that needs to be covered is going to be diminished by 30 percent from the low capacity they already had,” Tony Mulligan of the DNG said. 

Mulligan looked back on 2009 in Denver, where there were two newspapers — The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News —
and about 500 print journalists. After the latest round of layoffs, that number will be down to about 70. 

“The daily paper is the grounding source of info for a community,” he said. “As we diminish the staff we’re diminishing the grounding effect of the objective news provided by the daily newspaper.”

“No matter how many people are in here our mission stays the same, and our commitment to doing quality work stays the same,” Colacioppo said. 

Denver7 also asked the CEO of the Colorado Press Association about the layoffs and the battle against fake news.

“It’s more important than ever to have more journalists not less,” Jerry Raehal of the CPA said.

“There's no better vaccine against fake news than to make sure the real news is out for people to get,” Colacioppo said. 

Denver7 asked if that was possible given the latest layoffs. 

“Yes, it will happen.”

UPDATE: In a follow-up conversation, the Colorado Press Association raised the point of some local papers who are not cutting jobs, some who are growing, and even some national publications like the Minneapolis Star Tribune that are making money. The MST has a private local owner.