Vultures circling, Denver Post calls for its own sale

Anyone who understands the importance of a strong, free press will be disturbed about the precarious state of journalism in Colorado.

So dire is the situation that the Denver Post today called out its owner, a New York City hedge fund, for yet another round of cutbacks. It called on Alden Global Capital to sell the newspaper to an owner that is “willing to do good journalism.”

The Denver Post has done good journalism for decades but is being starved of the resources it needs to continue. These are challenging times for most news organizations, yet many, including The Post, can and do remain viable if that’s what ownership wants.

The Post’s ability to fulfill its important role in the community has been diminished by round after round of greed-induced reductions in newsroom personnel. The latest cuts will further damage its ability to keep us informed.

I could go on, but read the newspaper’s own call for action and act accordingly:

As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved

0408181023b

“Good content can’t be free”

That’s a direct quote from an opinion piece by Bloomberg View columnist Leonid Bershidsky. It ran a few days ago in the Denver Post, which I read both in print and online. I pay for it.

In the context of Bershidsky’s piece, I could not agree more. He writes about the trend toward paywalls that real news organizations use to get paid. The jury is still out on how well that will work out, but news consumers will pay and should pay for good, trustworthy reporting.

I also could not agree more with his statement in another context: News organizations and others that charge for their content or that generate ad revenue by providing content should pay the people who write it.

Good content can’t be free.

Bershidsky points out that the Huffington Post, which has a history of getting something for nothing from gullible writers, has “scaled back its platform for unpaid bloggers.” That’s a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough.

I don’t imagine the Huffington Post cares, since it is on the receiving end of a content giveaway, but writers who donate their work to help such companies make a profit demean themselves. They also drive down compensation and dry up opportunities for professional writers, freelance and otherwise. (Much of what they give away is crap, too. It’s true that you get what you pay for.)

Until such platforms for unpaid bloggers are gone, or those bloggers stop giving their work away, I won’t be reading anything that companies like the Huffington Post publish. Neither should you.

What y’all owe me, and I owe you

fake-1909821_1920

You don’t read much poetry.
That’s an assumption on my part,
and I can’t say that I blame you.

Poetry is for everybody but
it can be hard to understand
or appreciate, and
it doesn’t always rhyme
and what the hell is up with that?

So this isn’t poetry,
because I want you to read it.

It is my opinion.
It is about what I think
you owe me and
what I owe you
and what we both deserve
as human beings.

We owe each other our honesty.

We owe each other our
best efforts to understand
the differences between news
and disinformation,
between facts and what people
are calling “fake news,”
which is a tricky new term for lies.

I could go on about
what news is
from the perspective of a guy
who studied journalism
and who wrote and edited news
for newspaper readers.

I’ll spare you that
(you’re welcome)
because I think
you already know what news is.

About those best efforts
that we owe each other:

I’m going to trust that the words
and pictures and videos
that you share with me and
the rest of the world
are not lies.

I need to be able to trust
that you think hard about
what you share before you share it.

I will not lie to you.

Let’s not disappoint each other.
Deal?

No tears here for bigots

Denver Post, I just gotta say it: You’ve disappointed me.

We share a love of the 1st Amendment, you and I. Sometimes it seems free speech and free press are all that stand between us and the wolves that howl outside.

One thing that we don’t seem to share is your concern about speaking out strongly against abhorrent speech, which you expressed in this morning’s editorial:

A Denver doctor’s racist comments shouldn’t have led to her firing

You make some important points about differences in how public and private employers can approach such situations. Important for people to understand. Good.

Two things, though:

One, just as people are free to write and say bigoted, disgusting things in public forums, others are free to call them out in what you call “public shaming.” Show me some evidence that calling out bigots chills protected free speech or has the same effect as libel and defamation suits.

Second, you contend that “nothing Herren said about the first lady suggests she would exercise poor judgment in her role as an anesthesiologist.” She already did exercise poor judgment. I would not entrust the life of a loved one to a doctor who shows such disrespect and apparent loathing for a woman of color, or for anyone else.

OK, a third thing: Is your parenthetical phrase here revealing or just thoughtless?

One can see how the doctor’s disgusting and ridiculous remarks (after all, the first lady is obviously beautiful and eloquent) could translate into an untenable position for the medical school.

Let us suppose that Michelle Obama somehow did not meet your standards for beauty and eloquence. Would Dr. Herren’s vicious, racist remarks be any less disgusting or ridiculous? Would the medical school’s position be different?

If you would have us remain silent in our “moments of disgust and anger,” you are already well down the slippery slope of accepting bigoted speech as just OK. We are obliged to call it out as wrong.

Shaming you, in public no less.

Football players in their own, real words, from ‘The Cauldron’

Just when I’ve lost interest in pro football, at least until the Broncos’ next season opener, I stumble across The Cauldron and a couple of thoughtful pieces written by NFL players.

I’m interested again.

My own football career ended after my second year in high school as a practice squad blocking dummy who rarely played in games, but I’ve always been a fan. An Iowa Hawkeyes fan since elementary school, when I listened to the late Jim Zabel call their games, mostly disappointing losses, on the radio.

I cheered for the Bears, the Vikings, the Packers, the Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams, all the Midwestern teams that surrounded us there in pro-deprived Iowa. Irrationally, I know, I detested the Cowboys, and I never understood why my sister Kathie did not.

Broncomania is contagious, as I learned when we moved to Colorado a few years ago. Tim Tebow was the QB when I saw my first Broncos game in person, courtesy of my daughter, Sarah. (A loss to the dreaded Patriots.) Then along came Peyton Manning, with passing glory and ultimate frustration.

I don’t recall a player saying anything very real or revealing in all those years. They said the routine press conference stuff or goofed in commercials and that seemed about it. I knew them only from sportswriter critiques, won-loss records, individual stats, injury reports, highlight-reel hits and catches, movies, and shocking headlines and stories about their misdeeds, both real and rumored.

I suspected, of course, on the rare occasions that I thought about them at all as real people, that there was more to them than skill and brutal collisions and lots of money.

The two pieces that got my attention are about how they live in and cope with the always-on glare of social media. DeAngelo Williams and Golden Tate explain it quite nicely.

You Better Check Yourselves, Players

Silence Isn’t Golden


Originally published on MediumJanuary 17, 2015.