Denver Daily Print Media At A Crossroads

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The announced layoffs and changes at The Denver Post this week show that print media in Denver is coming to a crossroads that it hasn’t seen for many generations.

Throughout my life — and frankly throughout the lives of my parents, and even my grandparents — the idea of having a daily printed newspaper was a fact that could be taken very much for granted in Denver.

However, the changes announced at The Denver Post this week clearly show that, while not necessarily spelling its doom, a daily printed newspaper in Denver can no longer be taken for granted.

The Post laid off op-ed columnist Mike Littwin and business/social page columnist Penny Parker, among other positions, earlier this week. They also announced that Chuck Murphy will no longer continue his column, moving to a Social Media editor position. Tina Griego is currently the paper’s one and only non-sports columnist.

RELATED: 2 Popular Columnists Among Surprise Layoffs At Denver Post

For me, the question is less about the business side of the unfortunate layoffs, and more about trying to find out at what point does a daily newspaper get to its breaking point, where it can no longer exist as a critical voice in the community?

Too often the evolution of media is strictly told regarding the revenue models. Since it is indeed a business, the revenue model must be part of the conversation.

However, far less analysis has been done regarding what elements of a newspaper need to be present for it to be relevant in a community as a daily newspaper. Obviously, with less resources, fewer reporters will be hired so actual news stories will be the first casualty.

But what about the personality of a newspaper? How vital is a newspaper’s unique voice and feel? A voice of a newspaper evolves, but I feel that it’s always there in one way or another. But that may be another media assumption that simply is no longer true.

My point is not that Mike Littwin and Penny Parker represented the voice of the Post. My point is that columnists of every flavor help to collectively make up a newspaper’s voice.

Certainly, work done by reporters and other writers make up a significant contribution to a newspaper’s voice. But opinions and insight found in columns provide a deeper reason for readers to come back to a newspaper.

It doesn’t matter if the columnists are liberal or conservative, writing about local issues or national. The important part is that they provide a local voice that readers can agree or disagree with, love or hate, echo or dismiss. Readers are able to have a deeper relationship with a paper with those voices present.

When those voices are gone, what happens to the relationship?

When I talk to people about why they enjoy a newspaper, they will inevitably talk about some part of the personality of the paper, the columnist or several columnists that they must read.

When fans of the Rocky or the Post of old talk about what they liked about those papers, they talk about like writers like Gene Amole and Chuck Green, personalities that gave readers a personal connection to the Rocky and the Post.

I realize that newspapers are a business and that our media landscape has dramatically changed. I also realize that the editors of newspapers need to make decisions that will keep their business viable. I do not envy the position editors are in.

However, as we see more cuts at the remaining daily newspaper in Denver, one must wonder about two questions.

How long can newspapers find the necessary cuts to stay in business?

And (more importantly for me) when will those cuts change the newspaper enough where staying in business doesn’t matter to the community?

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

  • Donny

    The Denver Post stopped serving the community a long time ago. Now it’s just about generating as much revenue as possible before it dies. The handwriting has been on the wall for a long time. It is obvious by the quality of it’s content that they don’t care about the community anymore. The quality of the jobs there has deteriorated to the point that they are abusive. Lot of work comp cases. How are your shoulders guys?? When I departed from there , there was at least one repetitive motion injury in every warehouse. They abuse thier employees until they are no longer able to work, then they discard them like yesterdays newspaper.

  • Judy

    The days of The Denver Post (aka an ad-paper) are numbered. When you read on Tuesday what you read on Yahoo on Monday, something is really wrong. I will miss a paper but I guess I’ll learn to live with it.

    • LMC

      It has gotten to the point that there are more ads in the NEWSpaper then there is news. As stated, the news that is printed we read on the internet the day before and heard on the tv the night before. I have counted the pages of ads in the main section of the paper and there are more pages of ads(which the business paid the paper to publish) than there is news. If the paper charges a busness to publish their ads and then they charge me to receive the paper to read nothing but ads then why should we continue to support the NEWSpaper? They even done away with not only a lot of the columists but they eliminated a bunch of the comic strips also. Then they up the price of the paper every time you go to renew your subscription so you can pay more to read more ads. No wonder the NEWSpaper is going by the wayside.

  • Geo.

    When I was a kid, I delivered the Post. It was an evening newspaper. I felt proud to be a small part of that operation. I always took a paper home with me to read. I believed all the stuff I learned in school about the importance of a free press in the American way of life. Over the last few years I read the papers less frequently. I was often troubled by how facts were deliberately omitted in some stories to impart a desired political or emotional tone on the part of the writer. Inaccurate reporting, sensationalizing stories, seemed to be more and more a part of the daily fare. I remember many times being involved in situations that were reported in both papers, and wondering if the reporter’s had actually witnessed the same events that I had, due to the inaccurate reporting. On one occasion, a well respected writer interviewed me for a story, then decided to use me as an UN-named source, so he could change all the facts I had related to him, to suit his agenda. Do you think lowering journalistic standards has played a role in the decline??? I read the Post every once in a while, and sadly shake my head each time.

  • LJ

    Who can stand the bias, has anyone with this paper said anything bad about the Democrats? Littwin and Grego are the worst!! If the post would get some decent reporters that would report the news, people may have read the paper!

  • JMF

    Our household gets the Denver Post on Sunday only. Why? For the coupons. I used to read both of Denver’s daily papers cover to cover everyday. When Denver lost the Rocky Mountain News, I still read the Denver Post religiously. Soon, I realized I wasn’t reading quality journalism any longer. The only reason we still subscribe to the Sunday edition of the Denver Post is because my wife will not let me cancel it. Once I get her used to getting coupons on-line, bye-bye Denver Post Sunday edition.

  • Asodeska

    “My point is not that Mike Littwin and Penny Parker represented the voice of the Post.”
    And therein lies the problem Littwit was the most radical Left Wing agent of Socialism of any regional paper. He was frequently ridiculous, and he alienated many moderate people, resulting in a drop in circulation.
    Other things, including bad management, a caustic intolerable attitude towards criticism, poorly written articles and political bias have the same effect.
    Their cartoonist never published a cartoon reflecting negatively on the Democrats, but did so constantly against the Republicans.
    The sooner the Pest dies, the better.
    Then, and only then, will there be room for a moderate journal.

  • Karlyn Huffman

    Since the Post is laying off all these writers why dont they lay off Klis and Kiszla and put Woody and Lindsay in charge. I cancelled my paper this morning because they fired Mike Littwin. They have terrible management at
    the Post. They should have kept the Rocky and gotten rid of the Post.

  • Art Pennington

    IN the era of instant media, the newspaper is a dinosaur.

    The columnists that have lost their jobs could try to embrace this new media with their own blogs or podcasts. Their former print audience will find them

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