PERRY: The Denver Post stumbles, but sneering will land you on your own face


So all the local social media minions have been twitter-pated with news that The Denver Post is facing yet another gouging of the newsroom.

Locals have been gleefully taking shots at Colorado’s largest albeit shrinking newspaper, mostly saying that the news product they produce is the cause of their ailing circulation and financial health. That’s just bullshit, folks.

“Twenty years ago, Denver had two thriving dailies. Today, the monopoly incumbent is on life support. Whatup?” said former state Sen. Shawn Mitchell on Friday via his ever-popular Facebook page of right-wing rants. Mitchell, who is one of the most clever, persistent and amusingly agitating voices of Colorado’s conservatives, was reacting to news this week that the Post would lay off another 20 people from its news operations through buyouts — this after years of peeling off writers, photographers, artists and editors like leaves on an artichoke. And now we come to the heart of that matter.

A flood of Mitchell’s fans/friends/minions piled on the insults, saying that the Post has undone itself.

Tim Ziegler said: “Bias, irresponsible reporting, no trust in the news accuracy, new technology. All have played a part.”

Not really.

Steve Johnson “It’s like a supermarket tabloid”

Not even close.

Shawn Miller: “People not willing to overpay for yesterday’s news or advertising. Print media failed to adjust to the new market created by the internet … up next television stations and news. Newspapers could have made themselves relevant by being more in touch with neighborhoods and individual towns rather than trying national or even city wide reports.”

Way wrong. Essentially, it was us, not Al Gore, who invented the Intertubes. It was the media that jumped in and gave you all a reason to come, long before there were shopping, video, games, Google, eBay and even porn. You’re right, though, that how we handled those early days has led to our current woes.

Susy Johnson: “There is an actual newspaper here? Wow, I thought the Denver Democrat Compost had been bought by the Colorado Democrat Party!”

That’s the bulk of what’s floating around the intertubes about the whole thing. Both the right and the left accuse the Post of pandering to “the enemy” and therefore becoming nothing but what we all need to wrap fish, line litter boxes and start campfires, as so many authoritatively pointed out.

Most of you really don’t have a clue what’s happened.

Newspapers primarily hung themselves by giving away their content online 20 years ago, giving people a reason to go out and buy a 14K baud modem. We are now unable to put the genie back in the bottle. So just where do you think all those free online stories come from? Elves? The fruits of real journalists’ labors are freely given and stolen away by you and our pseudo-colleagues. Edu-tainment and s-newz sites, like HuffPo, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Google and millions of others survive on blood and tears spilled by real journalists at real newsrooms costing real dollars, just like at the Post.

As to advertising, we totally messed up as an industry thinking that we could replicate the advertising business model of print to our online product. For a lot of reasons, even the so-called experts don’t completely understand, it didn’t work. But it’s not because the Post and every other legitimate newspaper in the country doesn’t pump out an ocean of content you want, you need and you talk about every single day. If you don’t believe that, you’re stupid as well as naive. The financial woes of the Post and every other newspaper came from the decisions of bean counters, not the headline writers.

So now the Post, like so many large newspaper companies, comes forward with very bad news, and tries to put some kind of positive spin on it, with the editor saying the paper is just going to have to put out shorter, punchier stories. As if a glut of talent prevented that until now. It’s crap. I know it. They know it. You know it. It’s sad, because stuff you really, really do care about, even if you don’t care to take the time to read about it, won’t get covered. And what do you think happens to issues that don’t get public scrutiny? Exactly.

As for the Post being the darling of Colorado liberals, just ask. Ask how many subscribers cancelled when the Post endorsed Cory Gardner — and have not and will not come back. Just ask about the Post endorsements of Ken Buck, both Coffmans and a variety of Colorado Springs whack jobs. Ask liberals what they think about how the Post covers their agenda. About fracking. About Obamacare and climate change. I think you’ll be surprised.

And, clearly, conservatives, too, feel like the Post has an agenda, and it’s not theirs. It’s all tin-foil and conspiracy-theory theatrics, folks. It’s just not true, at least not like you imagine it. Real journalists work real hard every single day to ask these questions every time they file a story: No. 1: Is it accurate? No. 2: Is it fair? No. 3: Is it an honest attempt to tell what’s happening and what’s at stake? Real journalists really do go through that every day. I can guarantee you, pseudo-journalists and PR types have other priorities, such as “does this convey the message that I, or my bosses/leaders/shareholders/officers, etc., want to convey?”

But here’s the most important thing. What most of you really don’t realize is that the Denver Post is not a single thing, but a sum of its parts. And it’s made up of some of the most ethical, talented, hard-working and determined journalists in the business. THEY are the Denver Post, and they’re liberal, conservative, none and all of the above. Slam journalism all you want — it’s really OK. We get it. It comes with the job. We hear you. And despite what you think, we react to criticism and praise because that’s who we are — without a real working press, you would be living in a place like Russia or Iran. No kidding. No freaking kidding. Sneer all you want, what we do is that vital, because almost all of you don’t have the time, the interest nor the ability to ferret out mundane crap and deep shit alike. And if you think you’ll get the straight story straight from the horses’ asses in government, at Monsanto, at Chrysler, at Blue Bell, you are oh, oh, oh so very wrong. And if you think TV news has the ability to pick up the slack, you are even more wrong.

So sneer all you want about the misfortunes of the Post and our industry. But I promise you that without it, Denver, and Aurora, and all of Colorado, will be a far lesser place than it is. I very often don’t agree with many news and non-news decisions the Post makes, but I have no hesitation in insisting that the mission and product of the Denver Post —  and the Colorado Springs Gazette, and the Durango Herald and the Aurora Sentinel — is critical to the region’s well-being and success. In any way you can, you should support the Post and other media, and tell them what you like and hate. But if you dismiss them, and all of us, you dismiss the only real defense society has against everything you spend so much time complaining about — that matters.