The Denver Post
May 2, 2011 front page
|Owner(s)||Digital First Media|
|Editor||Lee Ann Colacioppo|
134,537 Sunday (as of Q2 2016)
The Denver Post is a daily newspaper and website that has been published in the Denver, Colorado, area since 1892. As of March 2016, it has an average weekday circulation of 134,537 and Sunday circulation of 253,261. In 2016 its website received roughly six million monthly unique visitors generating more than 13 million page views, according to comScore.
The Post was the flagship newspaper of MediaNews Group Inc., founded in 1983 by William Dean Singleton and Richard Scudder. MediaNews is today one of the nation's largest newspaper chains, publisher of 61 daily newspapers and more than 120 non-daily publications in 13 states. MediaNews bought The Denver Post from the Times Mirror Co. on December 1, 1987. Times Mirror had bought the paper from the heirs of founder Frederick Gilmer Bonfils in 1980.
Since 2010, The Denver Post has been owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which acquired its bankrupt parent company, MediaNews Group. In April 2018, a group called "Together for Colorado Springs" said that it was raising money to buy the Post from Alden Global Capital, stating: “Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom.”
In August 1892, The Evening Post was founded by supporters of Grover Cleveland with $50,000. It was a Democratic paper used to publicize political ideals and stem the number of Colorado Democrats leaving the party. Cleveland had been nominated for president because of his reputation for honest government.
However, Cleveland and eastern Democrats opposed government purchase of silver, Colorado's most important product, which made Cleveland unpopular in the state. Following the bust of silver prices in 1893, the country and Colorado went into a depression and The Evening Post suspended publication in August 1893.
A new group of owners with similar political ambitions raised $100,000 and resurrected the paper in June 1894. On October 28, 1895, Harry Heye Tammen, former bartender and owner of a curio and souvenir shop, and Frederick Gilmer Bonfils, a Kansas City real estate and lottery operator, purchased the Evening Post for $12,500. Neither had newspaper experience, but they were adept at the business of promotion and finding out what people wanted to read.
Through the use of sensationalism, editorialism, and "flamboyant circus journalism", a new era began for the Post. Circulation grew and eventually passed the other three daily papers combined. On November 3, 1895 the paper's was name changed to Denver Evening Post. On January 1, 1901 the word "Evening" was dropped from the name and the paper became The Denver Post.
20th and early 21st centuries
Among well-known Post reporters were Gene Fowler, Frances Belford Wayne, and "sob sister" Polly Pry. Damon Runyon worked briefly for the Post in 1905–1906 before gaining fame as a writer in New York.
After the deaths of Tammen and Bonfils in 1924 and 1933, Helen and May Bonfils, Bonfils' daughters, became the principal owners of the Post. In 1946, the Post hired Palmer Hoyt away from the Portland Oregonian to become editor and publisher of the Post and to give the paper a new direction. With Hoyt in charge, news was reported fairly and accurately. He took editorial comment out of the stories and put it on an editorial page. He called the page The Open Forum and it continues today.
In 1960, there was a takeover attempt by publishing mogul Samuel I. Newhouse. Helen Bonfils brought in her friend and lawyer Donald Seawell to save the paper. The fight led to a series of lawsuits as Post management struggled to maintain local ownership. It lasted 13 years and drained the paper financially. When Helen Bonfils died in 1972, Seawell was named president and chairman of the board. He was also head of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA). The Center was established and financed primarily by the Frederick G. and Helen G. Bonfils foundations, with aid from city funds. The majority of the assets of the foundations came from Post stock dividends.
By 1980, the paper was losing money. Critics accused Seawell of being preoccupied with building up the DCPA. Seawell sold the Post to the Times Mirror Co. of California for $95 million. Proceeds went to the Bonfils Foundation, securing the financial future of the DCPA. Times Mirror started morning publication and delivery. Circulation improved, but the paper did not perform as well as required. Times Mirror sold The Denver Post to Dean Singleton and MediaNews Group in 1987.
In January 2001, MediaNews and E.W. Scripps, parent company of the now defunct Rocky Mountain News, entered into a joint operating agreement (JOA), creating the Denver Newspaper Agency, which combined the business operations of the former rivals. Under the agreement, the newsrooms of the two newspapers agreed to publish separate morning editions Monday through Friday, with the Post retaining a broadsheet format and the News using a tabloid format.
They published a joint broadsheet newspaper on Saturday, produced by the News staff, and a broadsheet on Sunday, produced by the Post staff. Both newspapers' editorial pages appeared in both weekend papers. The JOA ended on February 27, 2009, when the Rocky Mountain News published its last issue. The following day, the Post published its first Saturday issue since 2001.
The Post launched a staff expansion program in 2001, but declining advertising revenue led to a reduction of the newsroom staff in 2006 and 2007 through layoffs, early-retirement packages, voluntary-separation buyouts and attrition. The most recent round of announced buyouts occurred in June 2016.
In 2013, just before legalization in Colorado, The Denver Post initiated an online media brand The Cannabist to cover cannabis-related issues. First led by Editor in Chief Ricardo Baca, the online publication has surged in popularity, beating the industry veteran High Times in September 2016. Thirty layoffs were announced for The Post in March 2018, according to the Denver Business Journal.
Management by Digital First Media
On September 7, 2011, John Paton – the CEO of Journal Register Company – was appointed CEO of MediaNews Group, replacing Singleton, who stayed on as the Post's publisher and CEO of MediaNews until his retirement in 2013. He remains non-executive chairman of the organization. With the move, the Post also entered into an agreement with the newly created Digital First Media, led by Paton, that would provide management services and lead the execution of the company's business strategy in conjunction with Journal Register. Paton stepped down as CEO of Digital First in June 2015, and was succeeded by longtime MediaNews executive Steve Rossi.
In the same announcement, the company said that it would no longer be seeking a sale.
Newsroom cuts & criticism
The operation of The Denver Post by Digital First Media, under the ownership of Alden Global Capital, has come under extensive criticism from workers at the newspaper and outside the organization. The hedge fund has made "relentless cost cuts" since taking ownership in 2010, despite the reported profitability of the Post, principally by laying off the newspaper's staff. Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post called Alden Global Capital "one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism." Under Digital Media First, the number of journalists in the newsroom was reduced by almost two-thirds by April 2018, to around 70 people. This represents a drastic fall from the over 250 journalists which The Denver Post employed before 2010, when it was purchased by Alden Media Group. At one point before 2009, the joint-operating agreement between The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News boasted a 600-strong staff of journalists, before the bankruptcy of the Rocky Mountain News that year.
The announcement of 30 more layoffs in March 2018, which reduced the paper's newsroom from 100 to around 70 people, prompted a denunciation of its owners from the editorial board of The Denver Post. The editorial decried Alden Global Capital as "vulture capitalists" who were "strip-mining" the newspaper; it concluded that "Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn't willing to do good journalism here, it should sell the Post to owners who will." The editorial board pointed out that the cuts were hamstringing the ability of the Post to provide quality coverage of the fast-growing Denver region, and compared the size of its newsroom unfavorably to those of other newspapers in cities of comparable or smaller size to Denver. Alden's "harvesting strategy" is what prompted Greg Moore, editor of The Denver Post from 2002 to 2016, to step down.
The "open revolt" of the Denver Post against its owners garnered support and praise from other newspapers and journalists, including Mitchell Landsberg of the Los Angeles Times and Joe Nocera of Bloomberg View.
Editors of the Post have included:
- Arnold Miller
- Robert W. Ritter, 1989–?
- F. Gilman Spencer
- Neil Westergaard
- Dennis A. Britton
- Glenn Guzzo
- Gregory L. Moore, 2002–2016
- Lee Ann Colacioppo, 2016–present
Former columnists include Woody Paige in sports, Tom Noel on local history, Mike Rosen on the commentary page. Other columnists included David Harsanyi, Al Lewis, Mike Littwin, Penny Parker and Michael Kane.
The Denver Post has won nine Pulitzer Prizes:
- 1964: Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning by Paul Conrad
- 1967: Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning by Pat Oliphant
- 1984: Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography by Anthony Suau
- 1986: Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for a series on missing children
- 2000: Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for its coverage of the Columbine High School massacre
- 2010: Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography by Craig F. Walker
- 2011: Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning by Mike Keefe
- 2012: Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography by Craig F. Walker
- 2013: Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for its coverage of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting
References not listed below can be found on the linked pages.
National and international awards
- 2015: Pulitzer Prize finalist in Explanatory Reporting for coverage of Colorado's marijuana laws.
- 2007: Pulitzer Prize finalist in breaking news for The Denver Post's coverage of Colorado's back-to-back blizzards.
- 2007: Four awards for outstanding business coverage from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW). The project-reporting winner was the Post's 2006 series on Colorado's mortgage foreclosure epidemic, "Foreclosing on the American Dream".
- 2007: Former Post staff writer Eric Gorski was awarded first place in "Best of the West" contest in the Business and Financial Reporting category for "The Gospel of Prosperity", a look at the finances of the Heritage Christian Center.
- 2007: Visual journalists at The Post won 10 awards in two international newspaper competitions – nine Awards of Excellence in the 28th annual Society of News Design judging and a bronze medal in the 15th annual Malofiej International Infographic Awards, held in Pamplona, Spain.
- Radio Television Digital News Association's Edward R. Murrow awards, including Lindsay Pierce/“Kailyn’s Spirit” in 2016, three in 2015.
- 2007: The Denver Post won 22 top awards in two Colorado journalism contests, including the award for general excellence from the Colorado Associated Press Editors and Reporters (CAPER). The staff of denverpost.com was awarded top honors for online breaking news.
- 2007: The Mountain States Office of the Anti-Defamation League presented Denver Post editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe with its annual Freedom of the Press award.
- 2013: The Carson J Spencer Foundation "Media All-Star" award for responsible reporting on suicide.
In February 2014, The Denver Post began publishing a section entitled "Energy and Environment", funded by Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), a pro–natural gas group. The stories in the section are written by outsiders, not by DP reporters. A banner across the top of the section reads "This Section is Sponsored by CRED". Nevertheless, critics express concern that the section risks confusing readers about the distinction between advertising and reporting.
Another controversy arose in later January 2020, when Jon Caldara of the Denver-based Independence Institute, who had long written a weekly column for the Denver Post, was fired over taking an objectionable view on a trans issue — an issue of transparency. In a column arguing for greater openness in public affairs, excoriating the Colorado legislature for avoiding the legally required referendum on a new state tax by repackaging it as a “fee” — and then prohibiting hospitals from listing the fee on patients’ bills. On the same theme, he criticized the state’s educational authorities for imposing a speech code forbidding speech considered “stigmatizing” by the self-appointed tribunes of the various sexual tribes. “In case you hadn’t noticed,” he wrote, “just about everything is stigmatizing to the easily triggered, perpetually offended.” Continuing on his theme of transparency, he also complained that the schools were not doing enough to make parents aware of the contents of their curricula. He was fired for affirming his belief that H. sap. is an animal that comes in two sexes.
- Sanchez, Robert (October 2016). "How Massive Cuts Have Remade The Denver Post". 5280. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
- Petty, Daniel (May 17, 2016). "Denver Post unique visitors jump to 6.01 million, up 65 percent year-over-year". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on May 14, 2019. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- Ember, Sydney (April 7, 2018). "Denver Post Rebels Against Its Hedge-Fund Ownership". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 8, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Ember, Sydney (April 12, 2018). "Colorado Group Pushes to Buy Embattled Denver Post From New York Hedge Fund". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 14, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- McCartney, Laton (2008). The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country. Random House. p. 124. ISBN 9781400063161.
- McClanahan, Michael D. (1999). "Part 1: Early Runyon". Denver Press Club Historical Archive. Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. Retrieved June 20, 2007.
- Riley, Marilyn Griggs (2006). High Altitude Attitudes: Six Savvy Colorado Women. Big Earth Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 978-1555663759.
- Hosokawa, Bill (1976). Thunder in the Rockies: The Incredible Denver Post. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0688029736.
- Roberts, Michael (April 27, 2006). "Dealing: The Post offers staffers money to leave". Westword. Archived from the original on June 26, 2019.
- "Industry Bloodbath Continues: 'Denver Post' Loses 21 Posts in Newsroom". Editor & Publisher. Associated Press. June 19, 2007. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
- "Denver Post Cutting Staff". 9 News. June 4, 2016. Archived from the original on June 26, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
- Opam, Kwame (December 31, 2013). "The Denver Post launches marijuana culture site The Cannabist". The Verge. Archived from the original on June 26, 2018.
- Petty, Daniel (October 12, 2016). "Humble brag: Cannabist surpasses High Times in unique visitors for first time". The Cannabist. Archived from the original on March 24, 2017.
- Hendee, Caitlin; Avery, Greg (March 14, 2018). "Massive job cuts coming to the Denver Post". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
- Pankratz, Howard (September 7, 2011). "MediaNews Group names John Paton new CEO". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on December 13, 2018.
- Raabe, Steve (November 4, 2013). "Singleton to retire from Denver Post owner MediaNews Group". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on June 26, 2019.
- "Denver Post parent says now is not right time for sale of company". The Denver Post. May 14, 2015. Archived from the original on June 30, 2016.
- Roberts, Michael (May 9, 2017). "Denver Post Moving Newsroom Out of Denver". Westword. Archived from the original on May 12, 2017. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
- Sydney Ember (2018-04-12). "Colorado Group Pushes to Buy Embattled Denver Post from New York Hedge Fund". New York Times. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
- Margaret Sullivan (2018-03-15). "Is this strip-mining or journalism? 'Sobs, gasps, expletives' over latest Denver Post layoffs". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
- Dominique Mosbergen (2018-04-06). "In an Extraordinary Act of Defiance, Denver Post Urges its Owner to Sell the Paper". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
- Denver Post Editorial Board (2018-04-06). "Editorial: As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved". Denver Post. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
- "Denver Post Picks New Editor". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 1, 1989. Archived from the original on December 20, 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
- "Denver Post editor Greg Moore resigns". The Denver Post. March 15, 2016. Archived from the original on June 20, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
- "Lee Ann Colacioppo named editor of 'The Denver Post'". The Denver Post. May 31, 2016. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
- "Prize Winners by Year". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University.
- Cavna, Michael (April 18, 2011). "The Pulitzers: Denver's Mike Keefe wins for Editorial Cartooning". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 26, 2018.
- Peltz, Jennifer (April 16, 2013). "Shooting coverage wins Pulitzer". 3 News. Archived from the original on January 27, 2016.
- Ostrow, Joanne; Worthington, Danika (June 21, 2016). "Denver Post videographer Lindsay Pierce wins National Murrow Award for "Kailyn's Spirit"". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on June 26, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- "Denver Post takes home 3 national Murrow Awards". The Denver Post. October 14, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- "Denver Post receives Media All-Star award for responsible reporting on suicide". August 23, 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2018 – via YouTube.
- Valentine, Katie (April 16, 2014). "The Denver Post's 'Energy And Environment' Section Is Produced By The Oil And Gas Industry". ThinkProgress. Archived from the original on June 11, 2019.
- History of Denver, by Jerome C. Smiley, 1901, page 672.
- Voice of Empire: A Centennial Sketch of The Denver Post, by William H. Hornby, page 8.