Durango Herald in “partnership” with ColoradoPolitics for legislative and political coverage from Denver

The Durango Herald appears to have axed its much-admired, one-person Denver bureau, once staffed by legends like Joe Hanel then Peter Marcus, in favor of relying on “legislative and political coverage” from ColoradoPolitics, which like the Colorado Springs Gazette, is owned by Phil Anschutz’s Clarity Media.

In a post Thursday, Herald Editor Amy Maestas wrote that the new “partnership” with ColoradoPolitics will “expand the political coverage we bring our readers” with both print an online-only stories.

The Durango Herald has a long-standing commitment to providing our readers in Southwest Colorado news about our lawmakers and the state Legislature. For many years, the Herald had a one-person bureau in Denver to write stories about legislation and issues pertinent to our corner of the state. Those full-time Herald staff reporters were invaluable as coverage from statewide news outlets dwindled.

To continue that commitment, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Colorado Politics, which will now provide our legislative and political coverage from Denver. Colorado Politics is a print and online publication that launched in January 2017. The news outlet is owned by Denver-based Clarity Media – the same company that owns the The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The Gazette’s editor, Vince Bzdek, is also editor of Colorado Politics…

This summer, Colorado Politics hired two writers to report on legislators and issues from the Western Slope. This includes La Plata and Montezuma counties. Under the leadership of lead reporter Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics journalists will provide daily coverage of statehouse activities, as well as follow the activities of state Sen. Don Coram and state Rep. Barbara McLachlan.

Maestas stops a millimeter short here from saying the Herald’s Denver bureau has been shuttered, and she did not immediately return an email seeking to confirm the death of the bureau. The Herald’s last known Denver Bureau Staffer, Luke Perkins, isn’t filing stories from Denver.

I also asked Maestas if she was paying for the ColoradoPolitics content, if she had concerns about the fact that GOP mega donor Phil Anschutz owns ColoradoPolitics, and if she’d gotten any reader feedback on the arrangement. Is she providing content to ColoradoPolitics?

My take on Anschutz’s ownership: we have no choice but to trust the journalists who work at ColoradoPolitics to alert us if he undermines their ability to practice journalism due to his partisan goals. Right now, there are clearly journalists on staff there who wouldn’t let Anschutz get away with too much.

Asked if ColoradoPolitics has similar relationships with other newspapers, Bunch said via email that his news site may partner with other rural outlets in the future.

The Durango Herald was one of the last rural newspapers in Colorado to staff a Denver/Capitol office. The Grand Junction Sentinel has a presence in Denver, in the venerable Charles Ashby. The Greeley Tribune keeps a few toes in Denver. The Fort Collins Coloradoan pretty much ended its coverage with the departure of the equally venerable Patrick Malone in 2013. The legislative coverage of the Colorado Springs Gazette, helmed previously by Megan Schrader and, before her, John Schroyer, has morphed into ColoradoPolitics.

Conversely, The Denver Post closed its last rural bureau in 2015, with the departure of Nancy Lofolm from the Grand Junction bureau.

One Community Comment, Facebook Comments

  1. mamajama55 says:

    The only bright spot there is that Phil Anschutz is very pro-renewable energy, at least in regards to his own wind-energy empire. I doubt that Koch-sponsored news and commentary will get much play in his media empire.

    It is sad that none of the big papers have rural bureaus anymore. They continue to rely on reporters bravely venturing into the sticks to interview a die-hard Trump supporter or two, as though that represents all of rural Colorado.

    Small town papers can surprise us once in a while with unbiased coverage of political events – it all depends on the reporters, and what their editors will let them get away with.

     

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