Exit Interview: Political Reporter Marcus on his Decision to Leave Journalism

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Veteran Colorado political reporter Peter Marcus will leave journalism at the end of August to become  communications director for Terrapin Care Station cannabis company.

Marcus started his newspaper career in Colorado in 2005 at the Longmont Times-Call (as an intern). Then he had stints at the Denver Daily News (defunct, tragically), Colorado Statesman (recently absorbed by ColoradoPolitics.com), Durango Herald, and, finally, ColoradoPolitics.com.

Marcus answered a few questions via email about his future, his work as a reporter, and the state of journalism in Colorado. (See similar “Exit Interviews” with scribes who’ve left journalism here.)

What are you going to be doing in your new job?

Marcus: My new role is as communications director. In addition to crafting cannabis messaging for Terrapin Care Station, I’m going to be working with the industry as a whole in an effort to build bridges so that we can move forward with a unified message that debunks many of the false and misguided opposition efforts that exist. We’re going to be establishing a website that includes original journalism, facts, data, videos, points and counterpoints. When someone runs a column that says the sky fell in Colorado because of legal marijuana, I’ll be responding with facts and journalism to show that in fact the “experiment” has not only been successful, but a boon for Colorado, which is how it would look under a national scheme as well.

Do you think you’d be leaving journalism if the profession were on more solid economic ground?

Marcus: My decision to leave journalism has less to do with journalism itself and more to do with a personal decision to take advantage of an exciting opportunity. I actually was lucky enough to have a stable job in the journalism world. Colorado Politics has honestly become the most trusted, aggressive political news site in the state of Colorado, and I’m sad to leave it behind because they’re poised for incredible growth. I just was presented with an opportunity that I felt I had to explore.

What’s the biggest problem with political journalism, as practiced now in Colorado, aside from the economic problems and related issues, like the shrinking number of political reporters?

Marcus: Shrinking number of journalists in political journalism is obviously heartbreaking. It weighed on my shoulders that I’m leaving it behind, because that’s probably the biggest problem, just too few of us left. But I’ve done this for more than a decade now, and it was simply time to move on. Colorado Politics is staffing up big time, so I believe the void that is left will be filled sooner than later. So, there is hope.

What’s a highlight or two of your career as a political reporter?  A low point?

Marcus: Many of the highlights have come in the last few months at Colorado Politics. Breaking stories like Ed Perlmutter about to jump into the governor’s race, and then his decision to drop out while declaring that he would not run for re-election to Congress was a high for me to uncover.  Then to break that he may actually jump BACK into the congressional race, was equally as fun to report. [Editor’s note: This was written before Perlmutter actually jumped back in his congressional race.] Those are very recent stories for me over a decade of reporting, but they serve as excellent examples of why we do this. Journalists want to bring the facts to people so that they can understand for themselves what’s going on. Low points, of course, have been watching the state of the industry collapse. From the Rocky Mountain News closing, to the Denver Post losing critical resources, it’s just all so sad to watch as journalism takes a huge hit. But I’m still a believer. I think that there’s a path forward.

[CORRECTIONSept. 1 –Marcus did not break the story of Perlmutter exiting the gubernatorial race, though he was first to report, based on information from Marcus’ sources at the time, that Perlmutter would not seek re-election to Congress. The Denver Post broke the story about Perlmutter exiting the race about 20 minutes before CoPolitics did.]

What do you think you’ll miss most about practicing journalism? Least?

Marcus: I’m gonna miss being on the inside of everything. Within weeks journalists become has-beens. People forget all the wonderful work we did to keep them informed. But I’m going to be working hard to continue those relationships and to cultivate new ones as we bridge politics with cannabis policy. What am I going to miss the least? The pressure to always scoop everyone else and turn out a lot of copy every day. It weighs on you after a while. And writing stories at 1 a.m. gets old pretty fast. But if you have the drive for it, it can be a lot of fun.

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