We got a little impatient with our friends over at the Denver Post a couple of weeks ago, noting their obsessive coverage on a series of questionable polls about Colorado officials while completely ignoring a huge story on Sen. Mark Udall’s longsuffering credit card reform efforts. For one thing, we think that responsibly reporting on the latter would directly affect the results of the former–making their curiously silent status quo seem a little, well, irresponsible.
Weeks later, somebody in the Post editorial department finally, grudgingly mentioned Udall in reference to this extremely popular bill:
The so-called Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights has advanced from an earlier version penned by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who sponsored it when he served in the House.
That’s it. One throwaway line of halfhearted praise. We don’t really understand what’s going on here, since the Post’s newsroom still hasn’t written a single story about this, and a curt one-line acknowledgment that at some point in the past Udall may have had something to do with this bill, in an editorial, is not even close to meeting their journalistic responsibility.
No, for journalistic responsibility these days, we’re turning to the Pueblo Chieftain:
Mark Udall was still a congressman from Boulder when he authored the Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights in 2006, an ambitious list of consumer protections that garnered praise but little action from Congress.
Then Wall Street collapsed last summer and lawmakers suddenly needed to mollify voters infuriated at getting charged double-digit interest rates on their credit cards by banks that were begging Congress for billions in federal bailout funds.
Udall is now Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and earlier this month, the House voted 357-70 for legislation that kept Udall’s title and most of his language. It was sponsored and shepherded through the House by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and chairman of the House subcommittee on credit and financial institutions.
This week, likely Thursday or Friday, a similar bill will come to the floor in the Senate with Udall as a co-sponsor. In the rush to take action on credit card rates, senior New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a fellow Democrat, pushed to be prime sponsor but ultimately Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, took the lead.
Udall has some pride of authorship, but is more pleased the Senate is moving the bill.
This is part of a larger problem we predicted with the closure of the Rocky Mountain News, and the weakened nature of major local media in Colorado generally. In the absence of competition for good stories between robust newsrooms, there are fewer good stories. Worse, we begin to smell an agenda on this selective coverage, especially at the Denver Post. We’re not quite ready to say that the Post is just plain ignoring subjects inconsistent with Dean Singleton’s political agenda, and we still have great faith in certain reporters like Lynn Bartels, but there’s a growing consensus that we are getting markedly less important political coverage today than we were before the Rocky folded. And in the case of Udall’s credit card reform bill, the omission is a little dubious–this is a story that would definitely be of interest to their readers.
On the other hand, it was reported today that the Denver Post is considering a subscription wall for much of their news content, and a couple of weeks ago the Post announced it was scaling back delivery to outlying regions of the state. It remains to be seen what the effects of the Post’s diminishing reach will be, but we can’t imagine it will be bad for the Pueblo Chieftain…