Denver TV reporter goes too far in saying Obama “doesn’t like America” and has “contempt” and “disdain” for our country

February 27th, 2015

It’s obvious to me that journalists should no longer be expected not to express opinions, even on the topics they cover.

But, sometimes, if journalists have opinions that are so extreme, so rude or out-of-step with everyday sensibilities, they should refrain from expressing them. And if they do throw out such opinions, reporters should recuse themselves from covering anything related to their extreme/rude/bombastic utterances.

To my way of thinking, Fox 31 Denver reporter Julie Hayden’s repeated comments that Obama “doesn’t love,” doesn’t even “like America” and, in fact, has “disdain” and “contempt” for our country, fall into the extreme/rude/bombastic category. And Hayden shouldn’t be covering any story related to Obama, federal political issues, and, to be safe, any partisan political topic.

Hayden, who says she once voted for Obama and doesn’t cover the president, has been trashing him on her Saturday morning radio show, “Wake Up with Chuck and Julie,” which she co-hosts with hubby Chuck Bonniwell, on KNUS 170-AM.

On her radio show last Saturday, in the wake Rudy Giuliani’s comments that Obama doesn’t love America, Hayden even presided over a debate on the topic of whether Obama likes America, with Hayden and Bonniwell taking the side that he does not.

“To me, it just seemed so obvious he doesn’t like America, and, you know, I think has disdain for it and contempt,” said Hayden a typical comment (Listen below at 20:50).

Here’s another exchange:

Caller (at 9:40 minutes): It’s not only that he doesn’t love the country. I actually think that he hates it, that he does everything he can to undermine the country at every turn.

Bonniwell: You’re absolutely right.

Hayden: I don’t disagree with you.

Asked via email whether such extreme comments are appropriate for a journalist listed as a “reporter” at Fox 31 Denver, a major Denver news outlet with a five-star reputation for its political coverage (and not linked to the partisan Fox News Network), Hayden offered these thoughts:

Hayden: I believe, like many things “extreme” is in the eye of the beholder.  I do not consider my comment  that I did not think the President likes America to be “extreme”, any more than I consider someone else saying they believe the President loves America to be “extreme.”  I have also said on the radio program that it’s my opinion that Governor Hickenlooper has shown he cares about Colorado.  I don’t think that’s “extreme”, either.  I have also said on the program many times that I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 and was very disappointed when she dropped out.  And that I voted for President Obama.  I don’t consider those “extreme” comments and I do not think they crossed any kind of journalistic line.

I respect your question and your opinion, but I do not think it crosses a journalistic line for me to express an opinion, one way or another on the President because I don’t cover the President in my television job.  We have been fortunate at Fox 31 Denver to have Eli Stokols as our political reporter and he does a great job.

It would be a different matter if I was a White House correspondent, but that’s not the case.

I would also like to point out that whenever I express an opinion I invite and welcome people with other opinions to comment, too.  In this case, I frequently mentioned that our friend Chuck completely disagrees with me.  I think it would be wrong as a journalist and a talk show host to make it seem like there was only one side to any issue. And whatever the topic, I think we do talk about all sides and take calls and comments from all sides.  We don’t screen out any calls.

I was glad that Hayden, who mostly covers crime and general interest topics, agrees with me that she shouldn’t cover Obama, but local TV news tends to swarm around the hot stories of the day.

So it’s no surprise that Hayden reported this story the day before the 2012 election on Romney-Obama voter turnout efforts. This piece looks fair to me, but what would Hayden’s next story about Obama look like? About immigration? About women? The environment? Net neutrality!

And lots of crime stories, the staple of TV news, connect to partisan politics.

“To me it’s very bad that we have a president that doesn’t like America,” said Hayden on air (at 12:20 below). Let’s hope she doesn’t use her journalism job to do something about it.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/fox-31-reporter-julie-hayden-claims-obama-does-not-love-america

Fact check: Did GOP state chair abandon two candidates in close races?

February 25th, 2015

It’s not easy to fact check some of the allegations flying around in the contest between Ryan Call and challenger Steve House to become chair of the Colorado Republican Party. But it’s worth a try, especially when the salvos appear in the media.

On public television Friday, for example, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel reported an “allegation” that Call could have put two state legislative candidates “over the top” if he’d helped them pay for advertising during the “last couple weeks” of their campaigns, as they were “fighting hard” for a victory. But Call refused, and they lost.

Kopel (Watch at @1:30 here): House’s particular claim against Call is that Call refused to provide the support for two candidates who ended up losing very close state legislative races, Tony Sanchez, who was almost elected to the state senate, and Susan Kochevar, who almost won a house race, and her win would have put the House in Republican hands. So the argument is that they were close. They were fighting hard, and Ryan Call wouldn’t do a mailer for them in the last couple weeks that could have put them over the top. I don’t know the details of that. But that would be the allegation. Certainly, any chair of major party has to be able to work with all the groups of the party, the sincere moderates, the squishy moderates, the hard-core ideological people—and then have strategies to help them all get elected. [BigMedia emphasis]

Yes, you’d want a major party chair to work with all sides, but is the allegation true? Did Call screw his own party up?

Kopel, a Democrat who made the statement on Channel 12′s Colorado Inside Out, told me via email that he was “just summarizing House’s campaign speech” and does not know “know what went on” in the Kochevar and Sanchez races.

Asked about Kopel’s statement, Sanchez did not respond, but Kochevar emailed me a Feb. Facebook post in which she wrote that she lost by 1,500 votes, and she “did not receive any money from the state party.” Kochevar was selected by a vacancy committee in July, after Robert Ramirez dropped at the last minute.

Sanchez lost to Sen. Andy Kerr by about 1,000 votes.

“Shortly after Dec. 31 [after the election], I received a phone call from Ryan Call informing me that if I did not fire my campaign finance company, the Republican Party would not have campaign funds for a future campaign.  I perceived this as a threat. I find it reprehensible that a party chairman would threaten a viable candidate,” Kochevar wrote on Facebook. “My campaign finance reporting was handled by Campaign Integrity Watchdog, which is owned by Matt Arnold. Steve House will not let personal grudges interfere with party success. He understands limited govt and will unify all factions within the party.”

Call did not return an email seeking comment, but his backers say the GOP state chair invested strategically, with limited funds, in the most promising races statewide. The decisions were tough, but in the end the GOP did better than it’s done in a decade or more, they say. In Jeffco itself, the thinking goes, Larry Queen had a better shot than Sanchez and Kochevar, who were both expected to receive big-time support from RMGO. And both Sanchez and Kochevar were seen, with no grudges involved, as weaker candidates.  I’m not saying I agree with this logic, but I’m offering it in the absence of a statement by Call himself.

In any case, it appears that the allegation, repeated by Kopel, that Call did not do invest in the Sanchez and Kochevar campaigns, even as the races appeared to be close, is true, at least in Kochevar’s case. What role personality clashes played or whether a marginal amount of increased cash would have made a difference in the races is not known.

Republicans vote March 14 on whether to retain Call for a third two-year term.

 

Huge loss for Denver as Stokols departs from Fox 31

February 24th, 2015

Denver journalism sustained a body blow yesterday, when Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols announced he’s leaving for a job at Politico in Washington DC.

In a piece quoting a memo from Fox 31 news director Holly Gauntt praising Stokols, Westword’s Michael Roberts reports:

Contacted via e-mail, Stokols confirms the move while stressing the difficulty of the decision to take the leap.

“For a political reporter, Colorado is fertile soil,” he writes. “I’ve been lucky to have had strong support from Peter Maroney and my bosses at KDVR Fox31 to focus on that beat year round, even when it wasn’t campaign season and a lot of producers would probably have preferred to have me chasing snowstorms or shootings.”

He also makes reference to his hosting duties on #COpolitics: From the Source, a public-affairs show that launched last year; to read his preview of the program for Westwordclick here.

“I couldn’t have asked for more in this job: opportunities to launch a weekly show that has devoted serious air time to serious, substantive conversations about politics, policy and broader issues; opportunities to anchor newscasts five nights a week, something I’ve actually had a blast doing alongside Aristea Brady on KWGN Channel 2; and opportunities to write longer pieces about Colorado politics for other outlets,” he points out.

Stokols covered the day-to-day grind of politics like a newspaper beat reporter, producing daily stories, often about political developments that are seen as too boring for television news. This quickly earned Stokols the admiration of attention-starved partisans on both sides of the aisle.

He pushed out large volumes of information on multiple platforms, making Fox 31 easily one of the go-to sources of political news in Colorado. On top of that, he freelanced long-form pieces for 5280 and op-eds for Politico.

During the last election, Stokols earned the respect of his peers for his direct questioning of Cory Gardner regarding his support of a personhood bill at the federal level but his rejection of personhood amendments in Colorado.

 

 

Former GOP state rep. Jared Wright says he’ll “strive to be fair” as publisher of Colorado Statesman

February 23rd, 2015

The Colorado Statesman, which reports the nitty gritty of politics that’s loved by junkies and is hard to find these days outside of partisan blogs and radio shows, has appointed  a former Republican politician as publisher: Jared Wright,  former state representative from Mesa County.

In a touching good-bye column Friday that conjured a fading era in local journalism, current publisher Jody Hope Strogoff announced her departure from the newspaper.

Over the weekend, Wright answered a few questions via email regarding his new job.

Jason Salzman: I was glad to read that Judy Hope Strogoff thinks that you’re “aptly qualified” to run the Statesman. But, still, you’re obviously known as a partisan Republican, albeit with a libertarian streak. Will you assure readers of the Statesman that you’ll try, as publisher, to be fair to all sides, and why should we believe you?

Jaered Wright: Thanks for your questions, Jason. First, just as a point of clarification, The Statesman’s long-time publisher’s name is Jody Hope Strogoff. [Jason Salzman: I've made the same mistake before, and I regret the error.]  I have a deep respect for Jody’s long-time dedication and contributions to The Statesman and Colorado political reportage in general. Jody is not going away and will continue to be a mentor to me, a contributor to the newspaper and certainly an asset to this institution.

Yes, readers can be assured that I will strive to be fair. When I was an elected representative, my job was to represent the people of my district – a largely conservative district at that. My role has now changed significantly. Now, my duty is to deliver objective, balanced and complete news reporting to the people of this state, something The Statesman is known for as an institution, and something I take very seriously. For proof, keep reading The Statesman and you will see it within our pages.

Also take a look back at some of my political cartoons. In my artwork, you will see I don’t pull punches from either side of the political aisle editorially.

As publisher, I have full respect for the divide that must exist between the business side of the publication and its editorial department.

Having been on the other side of the microphone as an elected official, I know what objective reporting looks like. I also know what biased, agenda-driven reporting looks like. The former is what we must strive for. It is vital for a free society.

Salzman: Many were way surprised that you got the publisher job. Do you want to explain how it came to pass that you were named publisher?

Wright: I was surprised too! Sometimes life delivers unforeseen opportunities, and this was one I could not pass up. I have always been an avid reader of newspapers and an ardent consumer of political media in general, so I count this chance to contribute directly in the field of journalism an exciting opportunity, and one that I take very seriously.

Salzman: What are your plans, on the editorial side, for the newspaper? Do you have a vision for the Statesman beyond what we’ve seen in recent years?

Wright: My two biggest goals for our editorial department are modernization and growth. The Statesman is truly an institution in this state – it’s been around since 1898. My vision for the newspaper is to carry forward its history of fair, objective and unique, insider-oriented Colorado political reporting while also rejuvenating it to better serve modern news consumers – people who are busy professionals reading their news on their smartphones while taking RTD into work, reading a quick story on their laptop on lunch hour, catching up on the latest chatter under the gold dome while at their kid’s soccer match, etc. Providing this distinctive, high-quality news content to a growing, diverse and sophisticated audience throughout Colorado is the focal point of my vision for The Statesman

Salzman: Do you plan to make the newspaper more web-friendly?

Wright: Yes, as you know, a simple, robust, well-designed website is absolutely key to media success in the 21st century.

Salzman: What political publications and political reporters do you admire?

Wright: In feel lucky to be working now for a publication where our lead reporter also happens to be one of my longtime favorites. Ernest Luning is a very talented reporter with investigative acumen – well connected, fair, and a tremendous writer. I’ve read his stories in The Statesman for years now, and he does a great job.

Salzman: Sources tell me that the loss of legal ads have put the Statesman’s future in jeopardy. Is it true that the newspaper is on shaky financial ground and, if so, do you have any specific plans to solidify things?

Wright: It’s no secret that the print industry has been in the midst of some turbulence and will continue to face challenging times ahead – no matter what the publication – but I also see big opportunities within grasp so long as we have positioned ourselves on the cusp of the wave. Being quick on our feet and adaptive to technological changes and trending methods of media consumption will be vital.

Salzman: Sources tell me that Larry Mizel almost certainly owns a majority share of the newspaper. Can you tell me if this is true?

Wright: As with many other well-known, privately owned publications and media conglomerates across the country – many of which deliver premium, award-winning news content – it is not our policy to give out the names of our investors.

Salzman: Any other comments?

Wright: Yeah, yeah – I know. I’m the guy that made the stupid mistake at the Capitol. I’m not perfect. [Jason Salzman note:  Wright is best known for leaving a loaded gun in a House committee room.] I’ve screwed up a time or two in my life. And when I do, I admit it, fix it, learn from it and move on. The future of The Colorado Statesman is very important to me. I only look back to learn from my missteps. Otherwise, I’m looking 100% forward.

Salzman: Thanks again

Wright: Thanks for your contributions to Colorado’s media landscape, Jason, and for participating in what is clearly not always an easy or profitable career. I appreciate the opportunity to interview with you.

Coffmans’ split endorsements in GOP-state-chair race titillate Republicans on the radio

February 20th, 2015

Conservative talk radio is the front line in the battle over who will be the next chair of the Colorado Republican Party. (That is, for the tea-party wing of the party. The front line for the moneyed side of the party might be in buildings on 17th street or something.)

In any case, Steve House, who’s challenging current GOP chair Ryan Call, has appeared on at least nine shows over the past few weeks, including programs on KNUS (Peter Boyles), KLZ (Randy Corporon, Ken Clark, Kris Cook) and KFKA (Amy Oliver).

In contrast, I can’t find a single appearance by Call on conservative talk radio in the past month.

Even when the candidates themselves aren’t on their shows, the conservative yappers talk on and on about race to be the GOP chair, as if it’s the epic battle that will decide the future of the Republican Party in Colorado.

One of the developments in the race that titillates the Republicans is the split endorsements of Mike and Cynthia Coffman. Congressman Coffman is backing Ryan Call, the current chair. And his wife, Cynthia Coffman, who’s Colorado’s Attorney General, has thrown her weight behind challenger Steve House.

Below is an example of the kind of erudite discussion you find on conservative radio about the Coffman situation and relationship, such as it is. (Recall that they apparently don’t live together.) It occurred on Valentine’s Day on KNUS’  “Weekend Wake Up” Show with Julie Hayden and hubby Chuck Bonniwell. The guest is conservative political operative Laura Carno (who’s been crusading for powdered alcohol recently):

 Bonniwell: This leadership race for the chairmanship of the Republican Party is going wild! It’s just going wild out there. And you can read all about it in ColoradoPols, which is sad because it’s a left-wing site… It’s a battle royale with Cynthia Coffman, who’s the Attorney General, urging Steve House to run, and then her husband, Congressman Coffman, opposing him, saying, ‘Re-elect Ryan Call.’ It’s just an amazing fight.

Carno: Yeah. It’s going crazy. …I thought that the Coffman angle was absolutely fascinating.

Hayden: You have to wonder!

Carno: Cynthia Coffman is backing one guy. Congressman Coffman is backing another guy. And what does that household look like?

Bonniwell: It’s one of two things: They say, ‘You go on one side. I’ll go on the other side. And we’ll all be covered.’ Or they’re screaming at each other. One of the two.

Carno: Right. It’s a house divided, in some manner. It would just be interesting to be a fly on the wall with those conversations. Interesting Valentine’s Day.

Unchallenged on talk radio, Coffman blames Obama for ISIS; calls for “boots on the ground” against ISIS

February 19th, 2015

When U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, Rep. Mike Coffman called it a “great day,” but in the ensuing years, he’s complained that America shouldn’t have withdrawn all its forces from Iraq. This line of thinking reached a crescendo Saturday, when Coffman appeared on a Denver radio stationand blamed Obama for creating “the situation with ISIS in Iraq” by withdrawing American troops too early.

Coffman: The fact is, the President has created the situation with ISIS in Iraq, because what he did against recommendations of the Pentagon was he left no residual force whatsoever in Iraq in 2011 because he was so desperate for the political narrative going into the 2012 election that he’d ended the war in Iraq. And by not having any residual force, we lost that military-to-military relationship with the Iraqi security forces. And in doing so, we also lost that government-to-government relationship. And we had no influence. And as a result, the roots of representative government weren’t deep enough. And the Al-Abadi government out of Baghdad reverted to their worst sectarian tendencies, pushed the Sunnis out of the government, and essentially created the opening for ISIS, for this jihadist element to come in and fill that void. And they did.

KNUS host Jimmy Sengenberger missed a chance to make things interesting by arguing that, if anything, Bush is responsible for ISIS. But Obama? Even if you accept the premise, which I don’t, that the absence of a U.S. “residual force” in Iraq created ISIS, the fact is that Obama actually tried to negotiate an agreement allowing U.S. forces to remain. Respected New York Times reporter Michael Gordon summarized what happened:

Mr. Obama sought to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed United States troops to stay in Iraq after 2011. Initially, the Obama administration was prepared to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq. Later, the Obama administration lowered the number to about 5,000. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki indicated that he might be willing. But the Iraqis did not agree to an American demand that such an agreement be submitted to their Parliament for approval, a step the Obama administration insisted on to ensure that any American troops that stayed would be immune from prosecution under Iraqi law…. After the talks broke down, the Obama administration withdrew the remaining American troops in December 2011, the deadline set for withdrawing all American forces from Iraq under the Status of Forces Agreement.

Blame game for ISIS aside, Coffman is so mad about the situation he’s ready to put “boots on the ground” in the war against ISIS–even though about a year ago he was for U.S. advisers in Iraq but dead set against the boots idea, telling KNUS’ Dan Caplis, “I would say, in terms of regular troops on the ground, absolutely not.” Now Coffman is saying U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq are required:

Coffman: Certainly, as an Iraq war veteran, I wouldn’t want to see U.S. forces on the ground as the maneuver ground element. I want I want to see indigenous forces on the ground, but we’re going to need special operators from time to time to take out high-value targets. We are going to need to give them air logistical and advisory support, and that is going to take some elements of boots on the ground. That’s just the way it is. And he’s trying to make everything fit into a political narrative. And it’s insane…I’m going to fight him on closing Guantanamo Bay as well.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/clip-mcoffmanseng21415

(CORRECTION: This blog post previously stated that Coffman wanted to “boots on the ground” in Iraq. Actually, he wants the boots in the war against ISIS.)

On radio, Secretary of State should have been challenged when he implied that getting an ID for voting is easy

February 18th, 2015

Back in January, Colorado’s new Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, suggested that people who register and vote on Election Day should present a “Department-of-Revenue-issued ID.”

Williams made it sound like this would be a snap for voters: “And it’s important to note that in Colorado, ID’s are free, to anyone who’s indigent. Anyone who’s poor, anyone who’s elderly can get a free ID,” Williams told Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner Jan. 11.

Technically, that’s true. But in reality, especially if you’re old or indigent, getting an ID is often neither easy nor free. With the Colorado state legislature debating a bill today requiring IDs for Election-Day registration, now is a good time for Warner to air some of the facts that run counter to Williams’ simple view.

The core problem is that, while an ID itself is free, through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the underlying documentation required to get an ID can be expensive to obtain and time-consuming to assemble.

From reading Colorado’s law mandating free IDs for those over 64-years and the indigent, you might think all you have to do is trot over to your county human services department, pick up the required forms, and then get hooked up with your free ID from DMV.

Not really. At Denver Human Services, you can get a coupon for a free ID if you declare that you are homeless, and therefore entitled to a $10.50 fee waver. But if you don’t have citizenship documents, you have to go to a nonprofit “partner” organization for help, according to Julie Smith, Communications Director at Denver Human Services.

“We recognize that this is a challenge to navigate, especially if you have to obtain a birth certificate,” said Smith, adding that transportation alone is a “big challenge” for people who are homeless.

Metro CareRing is one of Denver Human Service’s partner organizations that helps poor people get their citizenship documents together–at no charge.

“I often refer to our staff person who works on this as, affectionately, a ‘detective’ because people come to us sometimes not even knowing their birth place or all of their birth circumstances,” said Lynne Butler, Executive Director of Metro CareRing, echoing others in the field in Denver. “They might say, they think their mother was incarcerated in the state of New Jersey. Our staff person will begin from a place like that and spend a great deal of time and investigation finding the material and ordering the proper identification documents that come from the state for that birth certificate. So it’s a paper-trail process, and expensive.”

But funding the project now, even without more people potentially requiring IDs for  voting, is thin.

“We’ve had to turn away people,” said Butler, who says her organization provides more documents for the poor than any other  nonprofit in Colorado. “And to think that we might have more people in need of documents now because of [voting requirements] is an alarming thought.”

“Right now, we’re struggling to find the funding that we need,” says Butler. “We had to cut back recently, because some of our funding, in fact our major funder, cut back.” Butler says a “Collaborative ID Project,” with Denver Human Services, Colorado Legal Services, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and Metro CareRing, work together.

The IDs poor people obtain with the help of nonprofits like Metro CareRing serve many purposes, Butler points out, reflecting the widespread belief that getting an ID is a critical part of anti-poverty efforts, even it’s difficult to get IDs. You need an ID to pick up mail, to rent an apartment, get Medicaid and other public benefits, to open a bank account, to get a job, to see a doctor or get medicine from a pharmacist.  Sometimes you can work around the ID requirements, but people like Butler say an ID is a necessity of life.

And she hopes somehow, someday everybody will have an ID.

But as of today, that’s nowhere near the case. And the resources aren’t there to change that reality any time soon, as the government agencies, including DMV itself, and nonprofits that help poor people get IDs are at or near capacity.

And the number of people with no IDs appears to be in the staggering range–especially when viewed from the comfortable perspective of those who have little or no contact with indigent or poor people.

Last year, in a review of studies on voter-identification issues, the Government Accountability Office found that between 5 and 16 percent of registered voters do not have photo identification. That’s registered voters, potentially hundreds of thousands or more of them among Colorado’s 3.5 million registered voters. Colorado voters must show show a photo ID when they register to vote, if they have one, so Colorado may have fewer registered voters without IDs than other states, but we don’t know for sure.

Still, you’d have to think the percentage of unregistered voters (over a half million in Colorado) without IDs would be higher, potentially in the tens of thousands.

The Department of Motor Vehicles issued a total of 23,458 free ID cards in 2014, with nearly 18,000 of those going to people over 64, according to data supplied by the Department of Motor Vehicles. About 2,000 were distributed at no charge to a holder of a county coupon, most likely indicating homeless or indigent status. Another 1,800 were issued at no cost to the Department of Corrections.

So when you explore the world of getting identification cards for the poor, what you find out is that it’s a huge problem without a simple fix, especially with current resources. A Loyola University study found that while some votes would be voided by a photo ID, tens of thousands of people without IDs would be disenfranchised. This confirms a Brennan Center for Justice study citing research that voter-identification “laws disproportionately harm minorities, low-income individuals, seniors, students, and people with disabilities.”

Here in Colorado, if a law passed requiring a person to have an ID to register to vote on Election Day, it would clearly be impossible for some people to get an ID card, if they decided to vote on Election Day itself. And it might be impossible even if they planned months in advance or longer.

So, when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams hits the media circuit and implies it’s easy for poor people to get an ID, reporters should be sure to offer up the other side, invisible as it is to most of us.

Post closes last Colorado bureau and loses reporter Nancy Lofholm

February 17th, 2015

Another in a string of highly regarded journalists to leave The Denver Post in the last few years, Nancy Lofholm walked away from the newspaper Feb. 6, after The Post closed its Western Slope bureau, which Lofholm directed.

Before coming to The Post 17 years ago, Lofholm worked for several Colorado newspapers, including the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Montrose Daily Press. She’s freelanced for, among other publications, the New York Times, USA Today, and the LA Times.

“At the risk of sounding like a news Neanderthal,” Lofholm told me via email, “I will reveal that my life in journalism really began in 1968. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and was invited to ride through Nebraska on Bobby Kennedy’s campaign train. It was a smoke-filled, highball-sloshed, bloodshot-eyed scene. I was utterly hooked. My life’s mission became peeking behind curtains and describing for readers what I saw. ”

Here are Lofholm’s answers to questions I emailed her.

Jason: Why are you leaving? Will you continue as a journalist?

Lofholm: The powers-that-be at The Denver Post decided to close the Western Slope bureau and focus coverage on the Denver/metro area. I opted  to not transfer to Denver. I had been covering news on the Western Slope for more than three decades (17 of those years for The Post).  I had no desire to leave my home, friends and significant other behind to start over in Denver at the age of 64. After a brief bike-riding and sunset-savoring breather, I will continue in journalism. Some good opportunities are opening up and I intend to take advantage of them to keep up some coverage of this side of the state.

Jason: What are a couple of your best memories of The Post? Worst?

Lofholm: My best memories are of the early years when The Post created six bureaus around the state. It was part of a “We Are Colorado” campaign.  Top executives and editors at The Post traveled around the state in a bus and handed out coffee, cookies and tchotchkes to trumpet The Post’s commitment to being a strong statewide newspaper. Having that as a mission gave us in the bureaus so much opportunity to be creative in our coverage.

We had supportive state editors, like the exceptional Joe Watt, who really understood and appreciated the color and diversity of rural Colorado. We had a great cohesive team of talented reporters who could come together on wildfires, fugitive chases and plane crashes. Our team also was encouraged to produce the lively dailies that took readers along as we explored every interesting nook and cranny of Colorado, from a snowplow on Red Mountain and a gold mine near Victor to a corn factory-on-wheels at Olathe and a rodeo chute in Leadville.  At least one of us was on Page 1 nearly every day.

The hours were long. The deadlines were demanding. But it was all centered on the best of newspaper reporting and storytelling and on delivering what readers valued. I loved every bit of it. I will always feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of that.

And the worst: Seeing those bureaus shuttered one by one and The Post’s interest in news outside of Denver dwindle. The last few years had been very painful because of that lack of interest. I was forced to ignore so much news from this side of the mountains and was told the slice-of-life stories from over here were “too west slopey” for The Post.

Jason: One of your beats is immigration. Any advice for reporters trying to do a fair and accurate job on this topic?

Lofholm: Ignore the extremists on both sides of the issue. And get to know the real people at the heart of this difficult topic – the Dreamers, the farmworkers, the detained, the deported and the newly minted citizens.  Only through understanding and telling their stories can you illustrate why the immigration system is so badly in need of a fix and why so much of the emotional rhetoric is off-base.

Oh, and never expect ICE to give you a straight or timely answer to your questions

Jason: Would you advise a young person to pursue journalism?

Lofholm: Absolutely. I advise that all the time – with the caveat that they shouldn’t expect to get rich or to relax.

If young people have a passion for journalism, they can deal with whatever an industry in huge flux will throw at them. The demand for solid reporting and lively, well-written stories won’t go away. It may seem to be lost at times in the constant shuffle of priorities, the new instant nature of news  and the dazzle of digital platforms, but it will always be important. My advice is to keep that at the core of journalistic ambitions.

And, of course, be able to tweet, shoot videos, upload stills and text updates to editors – all while reporting and observing news events.The young do that so well!

Jason: Anything to say about the future of journalism in Colorado?

Lofholm: It will be very interesting. I say that knowing that ‘interesting’ is entirely too weak a word for what might happen in Denver. Will the Rocky revive? What will the hedge funders do with The Post? What is Phil Anschutz up to? What about that scrappy upstart, the Colorado Independent?

As all that sorts itself out, I think the small papers around Colorado will hold their own. Talented and dedicated people at papers like the Silverton Standard & Miner, the Dove Creek Press, the Durango Herald and many more will carry on, and their communities will be the better for it.

Jason: Or on The Post’s decision to close what appears to be its last in-state bureau?

Lofholm: Sad. Colorado needs a statewide newspaper, but The Post has not filled that need well in this half of the state for some time. Home delivery is nearly non-existent, and the busy digital product has some readers in areas of slow connectivity throwing up their hands in frustration. Those who are still dedicated to The Post are wistfully asking  “What about ‘Denver & the West’? Will it now be ‘Denver & the Metro’?”

Jason: Anything you want to add?

Lofholm: I would have liked to have continued working for The Denver Post for a few more years. I still have that fire, curiosity and energy to devote to journalism. I see good stories everywhere. I leave with a fat file of story ideas that certain editors at The Post had nixed but that I know will  be the basis for some freelance opportunities.

At this point I feel like I have new freedom to produce some good work.

Losing a Denver Post paycheck has not caused me to lose my passion for journalism.

Former KLZ talk-radio host elected Douglas Country GOP Chair

February 13th, 2015

Former KLZ 560-AM radio host Jim Pfaff has been elected Chair of the Douglas County Republican Party.

Pfaff says he helped “spawn the ‘Liberty Lineup’ of local shows which now dominate the station.” KLZ now has local shows interspersed throughout the day, whereas Pfaff’s show used to be the only local talk program. Pfaff left the KLZ airwaves after three years in 2011 to become chief of staff for Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.

I asked Pfaff, who’s never held elected office before if his “Jim Pfaff Show” experience gave him any insights that proved useful in politics.

“It helped me really expand my communications knowledge and skills,” he told me via email. “It’s a great way to learn what messaging is important to people and caused me to look more deeply and accurately at issues. It was a natural extension of my political activities.”

Pfaff has been involved in numerous political campaigns and he founded the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

But he’s probably best known for spearheading Focus on the Family’s 2006 efforts to pass Amendment 43, which banned gay marriage in Colorado. At the time, he directed Colorado Family Action, the political arm of Focus on the family.

When voters approved the amendment–and simultaneously defeated a measure allowing civil unions–Pfaff told The Denver Post, “Coloradans are fair, but they have no intention of installing gay marriage or any counterfeit to marriage. This vote makes that clear.”

Pfaff isn’t the only conservative activist in Colorado who’s jumped to talk radio and worked in politics. Jimmy Lakey, who hosts a morning shoe on KCOL 600-AM in Ft. Collins, ran for Congress in Colorado Springs. After he left office, Rep. Tom Tancredo hosted a show on KVOR in Colorado Springs. KVOR’s Jeff Crank was almost elected to Congress. KLZ’s Ken Clark was just elected Second Vice Chair of the Denver Republican Party.

Media omission: Ken Buck undecided in GOP state chair race

February 12th, 2015

Colorado’s newbie congressional Representative, Ken Buck, can’t decide who’s the better man to lead Colorado’s Republican Party: current Colorado GOP Chair, Ryan Call, or challenger Steve House, a businessman and former gubernatorial candidate.

Speaking on KLZ’s morning show yesterday, Buck said (at 8 minutes below):

Corporon: The party organizational meetings have been going on here in Colorado. And there seems to be a movement afoot to challenge the leadership of Ryan Call at the head of the Republican Party. In your own county, 13 of the 13 elected officials to the county, and the bonus members, have all come out in support of Steve House…Have you had any time to think about this race?

Buck: Sure, I’ve had time to think about it. Cory Gardner is the highest-ranking elected official in Colorado. He is supporting Ryan Call. Ryan, while not very successful two years ago, was successful this last election in getting things done and has agreed to step down after two years. On the other hand, Steve House is a good friend of mine. I respect the way he ran in the governor’s race. And I thought he did a good job and brings a lot to the job. At this point, I have talked to both of them and not made a decision on what I am going to do. [BigMedia emphasis]

Corporon: I want to encourage you to watch very carefully…the wave that’s going on in these organizational meetings. In Arapahoe, 15 or 23 people came out in favor of House. In Denver, 10 of 13. …Adams County Republicans, 10 of 13 supporting Steve House. There are people who really feel that the Republican Party under-performed here in Colorado compared to the wave…

The GOP will select a state chair March 14.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/ken-buck-remains-undecided-on-gop-state-chair-race