This week marks the final time we Coloradans will be able to enjoy the political reporting of Lynn Bartels. She moves on to become the Communications Director for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office in August.
She has not only brought distinction and notoriety to The Denver Post, her current employer, but she was also the foundation of the excellent political reporting of the Rocky Mountain News since the early 1990’s.
Since she announced that she was taking a buyout at The Denver Post and taking a job with Wayne Williams’ office, shockwaves have reverberated throughout the political and journalistic worlds in Colorado.
I should admit at this point that I am an unabashed fan of Lynn and her work. She is Colorado’s Tim Russert. No one remembers more about Colorado politics and can apply it to questions and stories as well as Lynn can.
I have had the great pleasure to see her in action during many debates and her ability to catch any candidate, from any party, trying to evade the truth is second to none.
But while some have used Lynn’s career decision as a way to lament the state of the newspaper business, what I choose to lament is how her absence will affect Colorado politics.
Following Lynn’s Twitter feed could give the impression that Lynn works seven days a week sometimes. I didn’t have to attend the Colorado Republican Party’s meeting where Steve House upset Ryan Call to know what was going on. All I had to do was follow Lynn’s live tweeting of the entire event.
The government meetings that many of us find so boring that they should be considered a form of punishment are where Lynn would always be and always find the best stories.
It’s this passion to go the extra mile to attend the meetings no one else wanted to go to or work on a Saturday without extra pay that made Lynn the legend she is, but it’s also what keeps our leaders on their collective toes.
If that is gone, what effect will that have on our elected leaders? I think all of us can agree that leaders from either party do not work well in a vacuum.
If you doubt the effect of a journalist that is paying attention can have, take a quick look back at the race between Mark Udall and Cory Gardner. Several quips Lynn reported became national stories, and her use of Mark Uterus, a term she picked up from Amy Stephens, was a turning point in the campaign.
There are some very dedicated and talented political reporters in Colorado. But it is very difficult in this era to gain the multiple decades of experience and the passion to attend all of the meetings and events needed to understand Colorado politics at essentially the molecular level.
Lynn brought that combination of experience, passion and talent to the Colorado political scene and all of us were the benefactors of her work.
In an age where election politics is dominated by millions of dollars’ worth of ads, and in a state where the legislature is term limited, we rely on our journalists to give us the information we need to see that we can’t see ourselves.
Let’s hope that the current and future political journalists in our state see Lynn’s legacy as an inspiration and can together help fill the huge shoes she leaves behind.
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 CBSDenver.com blog. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning “Colorado Inside Out” on Colorado Public Television.