Thanks to Westword for naming me a 2012 Denver #WebAward winner for “Best PR Flack on Twitter.” I’d also like to take a second to thank all the journalists who served as subjects of my Great Moments in Journalism posts, which is what I think pushed me to the top of the list.
A newly formed Denver-based holding company has announced it is purchasing Westword parent company Village Voice Media. Most of the coverage of the deal is benign, but Reuters offers a behind-the-scenes perspective that the move was made from a position of weakness due to advertiser boycotts.
The deal for Village Voice Media does not include backpage.com, a controversial property “which critics say facilitates sex trafficking through its ‘adult’ classified section.” A boycott organized by activists has led more than a dozen companies – including American Airlines, Best Buy, AT&T, Ikea, H&M, IHOP, Macy’s and Pfizer – to stop advertising in VVM properties, including Westword. It is thought the new holding company, legally separated from backpage.com, could regain those advertising dollars.
Here’s hoping the plan works. Westword has been an important part of Denver media for 35 years, and hopefully this deal will help it continue to play that role for decades to come.
A day after 9News anchor Kyle Dyer was attacked on-camera by a dog, Michael Roberts at Westword contemplates the journalistic integrity of 9News’s decision not to allow anyone – even its own NBC Today Show – to air the clip because it “has been traumatizing for staff members.” Roberts rightly questions whether 9News applies that same standard to individuals not affiliated with the station:
“… Many items shown by TV stations on news broadcasts are traumatizing for the friends and family of the people involved. Think of the late January hit-and-run for which Taylor Jo Mathis was arrested. In that case, 9News and many other outlets in town ran surveillance footage of the car striking two people, with one sent airborne by the impact.”
Westword’s Michael Roberts has given the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office a shout-out for its “There is No Poop Fairy” public relations campaign that was named the Best New Thing in the World last night by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
The votes have been tallied and Westword’s “Shmuck of the Year” is … failed gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis. Probably not the consolation prize he was looking for, but at least he finally won something.
Congratulations to Westword’s Michael Roberts for being named Top Blogger in 5280‘s annual Top of the Town issue. His “Latest Word” blog is the first one I read every morning, and the first one I recommend to anyone looking to fill their RSS reader.
Here’s today’s free PR tip: If you are drafting quotes for a client, make sure the client 1) reviews and approves the quotes and 2) agrees not to disavow them publicly.
That advice would have helped Campbell Levy of Aspen’s Promo Communications. Levy reps Denver chef/restauranteur Frank Bonanno, who is engaged in a war of words Tweets with Westword over a Westword blog post that revealed his plan to open a new French-American restaurant and quoted Bonanno.
The problem is that Bonanno is claiming no knowledge of the information that lead to the blog post, which came from Promo Communications and included quotes from Bonanno. Here is the Twitter exchange so far:
@sarah_gore [The Westword blog post is based on] Bad information . . .I think there are even quotes in that story, which is odd . . .
@sarah_gore [Westword’s Lori Midson] wrote what someone said I said. Thing is, I had a different deal working–but that blog [post] ended it.
Westword (@CafeWestword) responded:
LM: @FrankBonanno As you know, it was your PR person who e-mailed me with very specific info about your new place — with a quote from you.
Denver’s Fox31/The Deuce searches for the worst Valentine’s Day ever, and pretty much hits a bullseye.
By Michael Roberts
- Following the complete collapse of the journalism industry, public-information officers and official spokespersons will band together to start their own radio stations, TV outlets and newspapers, so at least they’ll have someone to talk to. Should be easy, since most of them are former journalists.
- The Denver Post will start charging for online content — and Dean Singleton will go door to door to collect.
- In an attempt to increase revenue, Westword will cease publication and become a medical-marijuana dispensary. This bud’s for you.
Denver Magazine has scored this week’s PR Win of the Week. Magazine covers are all about capturing attention, and Denver Magazine’s cover shot of Fox31 anchors Libby Weaver and Natalie Tysdal has been the talk of the town this week. Westword offers Photoshopped versions of the cover featuring various Denver duos, and Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post even weighed in on it this morning.
I’m not sure if it is jury duty, vacation or court-ordered community service, but Michael Roberts appears to have taken a brief hiatus from Westword’s “The Latest Word” blog, and Joe Tone is filling in. You should check it out; Joe is definitely one of the funnier/more sarcastic writers in town.
Congratulations to Westword’s Michael Roberts, Joel Warner, Jared Jacang Maher and Kenny Be, all of whom picked up awards at the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies annual conference.
Aldo Svaldi at the Denver Post says the paper is satisfied with its post-Rocky circulation numbers, but Michael Roberts at Westword says Svaldi’s article is “journalistically appalling.” One thing is for sure – it is going to take six months to a year for the Post to truly understand what percentage of Rocky subscribers it held on to. Any analysis now is like trying to project a pitcher’s ERA during the first inning of the first game.
First, the good news: The Denver Post is now the 11th largest newspaper in the U.S., thanks to Scripps’ decision to shutter the Rocky (and the JOA’s ability to automatically switch Rocky subscribers to the Post). The bad news? The Post is already down 17.4 percent compared total Rocky/Post subscribers, making it tough for the Post to maintain its goal of keeping 80 percent of Rocky subscribers.
Former 9News investigative reporter Paula Woodward talks to Michael Roberts of Westword about her decision to leave the station after 32 years.
Michael Roberts at Westword roasts CBS4 for violating the “important tenet of editorial independence” in a story about hands-free cell phone calls.
9News sports anchor Susie Wargin wins the public relations diplomacy award for her classy response to a rant that appeared in Westword media critic Michael Roberts’s blog that was written by Roberts’ 15-year-old daughter. Wargin has learned what too many CEOs have not yet – you are almost never sorry later on for having taken the high road.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the fate of the Rocky Mountain News could be decided within the next week.
Westword is not immune from the advertising crunch hitting Denver’s newspapers. The weekly alternative let three staffers go – assistant calendar editor Amber Taufen and staff writers Adam Cayton-Holland and Lisa Rab. Michael Roberts at Westword has the details.
Readers of the Denver PR Blog know that I am a fan of Westword’s Michael Roberts. His coverage and analysis of the Denver media scene is second to none, and the recent coverage of the Rocky Mountain News’ continuing near-death experience only solidified his position. So it was interesting to see a reader call out Roberts for not covering Westword’s financial situation the way he covers those of the Rocky and Denver Post.
Of course, what is lost on the reader is that part of what makes Roberts so effective at covering the Rocky and Post is that he is independent of them, a point he makes as well. Nevertheless, Roberts responds with an analysis of Westword’s situation, which concludes the both the paper and its parent company are … (drumroll please) … largely in good shape. But as much as I like Roberts, I’ll wait for David Milstead or Aldo Svaldi to write that before I believe it.
Westword Editor Patty Calhoun profiles Andrew Hudson and his burgeoning career-counseling business.
As if the staff at the Rocky Mountain News hasn’t already suffered enough indignity, it appears their best chance at a white-knight buyer could be Shawn White Wolf, who is either a Montana entrepreneur or a gold-medal-winning snowboarder. Either way, Michael Roberts at Westword is less than impressed, and has decided to make his own bid.
Kelly Pascal Gould of Pascal PR points us to Stop the Presses, a documentary about the troubled newspaper industry that will appear at the Starz Film Festival today at 4 p.m. Patty Calhoun at Westword has the details on its premier yesterday in the auditorium at the Denver Newspaper Agency, which, according to former Post columnist Al Lewis, was “like showing a horror film inside a graveyard.”
Michael Roberts at Westword weighs in on 9News’ curious decision to dump half its top-rated anchor team. Meanwhile, 9News news director Patti Dennis is blaming tough economic times for the decision not to renew Bob Kendrick’s contract (as if his contract was anywhere near those of castmates Adele Arakawa, Kathy Sabine and Drew Soicher), and she says she has “no idea” who Adele Arakawa’s co-anchor will be (or whether she will even have one) going forward. If anyone sees Ernie Bjorkman delivering a bouquet of flowers to Dennis, let us know.
Michael Roberts at Westword has the details on the shake-up at KMGH/Channel 7.
Haven’t had enough of political ads this season? Well, there is a reason to watch a few more. Westword’s Michael Roberts — the best media reporter/critic in Denver hands down — will be part of a panel (with Eric Sondermann and Walt Klein) discussing political ads on Studio 12 at 8 p.m. tonight on KBDI/Channel 12.
Michael Roberts at Westword beat us to the punch on Penny Parker’s inability to move on from the DNC three weeks later.
Denver Post editor Greg Moore issued his quarterly memo to staffers reminding them that the Rocky Mountain News is a weak, failing newspaper that would certainly go away long before anything happened to the Post:
“It seems foolish to think The Post would disappear. The Rocky Mountain News declared itself a failing newspaper in 2000, and nothing has changed.”
Have you missed 850 KOA Radio movie and restaurant reviewer Reggie McDaniel? Neither have I. Let’s be honest – he’s arguably the worst radio presence in the state. Nevertheless, Westword’s Michael Roberts has the details on his “mysterious” departure. Let’s hope the new business is successful, lest he return to the airwaves.
In the face of declining print readership, both the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News have touted the increase in online traffic their Web sites have been receiving. But Westword has dug a little deeper and found that most of their online readers are from out of state, which is a much less appealing audience for local advertisers.
Rocky Mountain News media critic Dave Kopel takes Westword to task for its “snarky” articles.
Former USA Today reporter Patrick O’Driscoll has landed in Lakewood as a public affairs specialist with the National Park Service. O’Driscoll was one of 43 employees to accept a buyout from the paper in late 2007.
Westword pays tribute to Denver Post entertainment editor Ed Smith, the latest casualty of the declining newspaper industry. His new job will be editor of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ magazine.
If you are one of the purists who has saved your St. Patrick’s Day bar-hopping experience for Monday, Westword has tracked down Denver’s most authentic Irish bars.
They’ll both screw you for $300 an hour. Okay, we’re not proud of that one. Anyway, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s fall from grace in a high-priced call-girl sting has whetted Westword’s appetite for the results of Denver’s medium-priced call-girl investigation. The best (i.e., most salacious) allegations are here.
If you want coverage in the Rocky Mountain News, you might consider pitching reporters at the Boulder Daily Camera, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Associated Press. The Rocky’s recent staff cuts, combined with its article-sharing agreements with other Colorado newspapers, means that as much as 40 percent of its local news is generated by reporters not at the paper.
Everybody wins! You’d think it would be hard not to win a lot when you are one of only three entrants and there are literally dozens of categories of awards, but that hasn’t stopped the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News from going into overdrive to congratulate themselves. Westword has the details here and here.
The Boulder Daily Camera is taking heat for its article covering the spectacularly horrible car crash that killed three men who were in their early twenties. Westword has the details on reader reaction that accuses the paper of glorifying the men’s behavior, including this quote:
“The thing that really makes me feel much better about this is they died doing what they loved to do — they were drinking, they were going fast and they were together,” (one of the dead men’s sister) said. “It gives me comfort, it does, to know those three things.”
UPDATE: The Boulder Daily Camera editor responded to the readers’ reactions.
Sad news — Westword co-founder and former Denver Post reporter Sandra Widener and her politically connected husband, John Parr, were killed in a Wyoming traffic accident this weekend.
Lynn Bronikowski, Mark Eddy, Anna Osborn, Ernest Gurule, Michelle Ames and Sharon Sherman are all Denver media types who successfully made the jump to public relations. They may have a lot more company from former colleagues at the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Westword reports on a group called “The Jump” that is helping journalists who fear continued downsizing make the move to PR.