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The Pueblo Chieftain sold to GateHouse Media

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Jane Rawlings, Pueblo Chieftain photo

 The sale of the 150-year-old Pueblo Chieftain to New York-based GateHouse Media was announced May 8 in the newspaper. Steve Henson reported that The Star-Journal Publishing Corp. of Pueblo had: “reached an agreement to sell The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper to GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers of locally based media in the United States. Both parties anticipate the sale to be concluded within about 30 days.” He also noted that terms of the sale had not been disclosed.

The sale of the oldest daily newspaper in the state had been in the works for months. Jane Rawlings serves as president of the publishing corporation, having taken over in the fall of 2016, just a few months before the passing of her father, Robert Hoag Rawlings, who was the owner, publisher and editor of the newspaper for decades. Jane Rawlings said: “It was my dad’s wish that The Chieftain would be sold upon his death, with proceeds to be placed in the Rawlings Foundation and that those funds would be used for the betterment of Pueblo and Southern Colorado.”

Jason Taylor, president of Western U.S. Publishing Operations for GateHouse, was in Pueblo along with four other company executives for the announcement. GateHouse publishes more than 560 community newspapers, including 124 dailies and 485 websites in 38 states and 565 markets. 

Salida’s Baranczyk helps mentor students for NNAF

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Merle Baranczyk, receiving the Cornerstone Award from the Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce, photo by Marcus Hill, Jan 2017

 Merle Baranczyk, owner of Arkansas Valley Publishing Company Inc., in Salida, was among the mentors for college students participating in the National Newspaper Association Foundation’s News Fellows Program. Seven college students went to Washington, D.C., in March for the sixth annual program to report on a topic of national importance.

As noted on the NNA website, the students get plenty of advice: “To help with their meetings and getting around town, students are matched with veteran journalists who act as mentors during their stay. The students are also required to write at least one article for publication on the topic.” Articles are published in the students’ school newspapers or a local newspaper, and may be reprinted on the NNA website as well.

Baranczyk is editor and publisher of The Mountain Mail in Salida. The company also publishes The Chaffee County Times, The Fairplay Flume & Park Co. Republican, The Leadville Herald Democrat and Peaks News Net. Other mentors this year included two former Colorado newspaper people: Steve Haynes, president and publisher, Nor’West Newspapers, at The Oberlin Herald, Oberlin, Kan., and Cynthia Haynes, publisher and CFO at Haynes Publishing Co., The Oberlin Herald. Steve Haynes is the former president of SLV Publishing (1980-1993) in southwest Colorado, past president of the NNA (2007-2008), and past president of the Kansas Press Association (1998) and Colorado Press Association (1988).

The program ran during NNA’s Community Newspaper Leadership Summit, March 14-15. This year, the topic was “how do the major political parties find ways to work together – Red State, Blue State: What a State of Affairs!” As noted on the NNA website: Students had the opportunity “to meet with policymakers and policy influencers during their time in the city. Some of them also met with their states’ congressional representatives in Washington. Part of the assignment (was) to determine the facts of a story from the ‘spin’ – the various sides of the issue presented to the public.”

 Westword writer Walker wins Sigma Delta Chi award

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Chris Walker (Twitter photo)

Chris Walker of Westword recently won a prestigious national award from The Society of Professional Journalists. Walker earned a 2017 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Reporting (Non-Daily Publication) for “Acid Trip,” including two articles titled “Acid Trip: Denver’s Secret LSD Labs Fueled the Psychedelic Revolution” last October, and “Psychedelics Are Making a Comeback Through Microdosing” in November. He will among the honorees at an awards banquet June 8 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Walker regularly covers news and music as a staff writer at the Denver-based newspaper. His writing bio notes that “prior to living in Denver he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes and The Atlantic.

Sigma Delta Chi Awards are given annually to winners in print, radio, television and online. The awards date back to 1932, honoring six individuals in journalism. The current program, notes their website, “began in 1939, when the Society granted the first Distinguished Service Awards.” The honors later became the Sigma Delta Chi Awards. 

Evergreen Newspapers reporter Swearingen is a 2018 News Media Alliance Rising Star

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Deborah Swearingen (Twitter photo)

Deborah Swearingen, a reporter for Evergreen Newspapers, has been named a 2018 Rising Star by the News Media Alliance. Recipients had to be under the age of 30 as of April 2, and were judged on “the value of the nominee’s contributions to his or her company and to the industry.” Swearingen said she had “absolutely no idea” she was in contention, “it was a complete and total shock.” After receiving a congratulatory email from her newspaper group’s corporate office in Kentucky, she began investigating, doing a Google search for the press release and sending a text to her editor, Michael Hicks, who confirmed he had nominated her for the honor.

“There are so many talented journalists out there, and I do not feel like I am doing anything special,” said Swearingen. Her recent work has included a 10-part series on professional women (which she “pitched and wrote in its entirety”); another special section she originated titled “As We Age,” for which she did most of the reporting and writing on articles “focused on the issues facing Jefferson County, home to the largest aging population in the state”; and a fall advertising supplement, “Becoming Colorado,” for which she was part of a team.

The women’s project included articles by Swearingen and photography by former photo editor Chancey Bush. “More than a year ago, she and I thought it would be interesting to find women working in typically male-dominated professions across Jefferson and Clear Creek counties,” said Swearingen. “We put some feelers out on social media and got tons of response. When we saw how many amazing women and unique professions there were, we pitched a special section to our publisher.”

Her subjects included a firefighter, an airline pilot, a senior equipment operator and a jail deputy. “Among other things, we talked about why they chose the line of work, what life is like working in a male-dominated profession and why we should empower and encourage women,” said Swearingen. An unexpected event: A class of special education students in Denver wrote letters to the women from the stories for a class project, then wrote to Swearingen to tell her. Said Swearingen: “Visibility is important. Stories are important. That’s why I do what I do.”

People on the Move

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Zach Clemens, photo EPTG website

Zach Clemens has been promoted from reporter to managing editor of the Estes Park Trail-Gazette. He replaces Daniel West, editor since 2016, who is moving to Grand Junction to be closer to family. Clemens, who grew up in Greeley, graduated from Iowa State University in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and history.

He worked as editor of two weekly newspapers in Iowa prior to joining the Trail-Gazette staff as a reporter a year ago. Said Clemens: “In the last year I have learned a lot from Dan and have formed a lot of relationships in Estes Park. I look forward to continuing Dan’s legacy of fair and accurate news coverage.” 

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Matt Lindberg, photo by Paul Hurschmann

Matt Lindberg has left his two-year stint as managing editor of the Montrose Daily Press to become managing editor of the Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and David City Banner-Press in Nebraska. The newspapers are owned by Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises. He began his new duties May 7.

Lindberg earned a journalism degree in 2008 from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He has worked at newspapers in Colorado and North Carolina in various positions, including news reporter, sports writer, news editor and managing editor.

Lee Enterprises Regional Publisher Vincent Laboy said Lindberg’s “industry experience and skill set will continue propelling (these) markets in the right direction.” Laboy is the former publisher and advertising director of the Montrose Daily Press (2014-2016).

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Erica Robbie, photo by Anna Stonehouse, Snowmass Sun

Erica Robbie has been named editor of the Snowmass Sun. Robbie, who grew up in the area, has been a reporter for the newspaper since December 2016. She earned a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, after which she returned to “the Roaring Fork Valley in June 2015 and started working at The Aspen Times within a month,” reported the newspaper.

Publisher Samantha Johnston made the announcement. The Sun reported her as saying: “It can be hard to find a reporter who loves the dynamics of small-community reporting and isn’t just looking for a place to get a start. From the beginning, Erica pushed us to give her the Snowmass beat and to let her take ownership of the paper and to be accountable for giving Snowmass residents and visitors a news product they could be proud of. I’m excited to see what is on the horizon for the Sun.”

 Denver Post Update —  Key dates in the ongoing turmoil at The Denver Post include the following: March 14, 30 newsroom layoffs announced, about a third of the staff; April 6-8, Denver Post editorials and Sunday Perspective section urge hedge-fund owner Alden Global Capital to sell the newspaper; April 12, reports come that a group based in Colorado Springs is looking for investors to possibly purchase The Post; April 25, Dave Krieger, editorial page editor at the Daily Camera in Boulder, is fired for self-publishing on a blog a column critical of Alden; April 27, Denver Business Journal reports The Denver Post’s online The Cannabist is losing its staff (to be run with Post staff and newswires), a day after that action that editor Alex Pasquariello announced he is leaving, and also that founding editor Ricardo Baca is interested in buying it;

May 3, Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett resigns after Digital First Media rejects another article about Alden; May 4, senior editors Larry Ryckman and Dana Coffield hand in their notices, and former Post owner Dean Singleton resigns as chairman and from editorial board; May 7, more than 50 newsroom staff sign an open letter to readers condemning Alden and Digital First Media practices; May 8, protestors demonstrate at The Denver Post offices in Adams County and in New York at Alden offices; and May 11, after four years, Alex Burness, reporter for Daily Camera, left that newspaper to cover Denver and statewide news for the Colorado Independent statewide online news service starting in June.

 Grants available for laid-off Denver Post journalists

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Alissa Quart (Twitter photo)

 Amid all of the layoffs, firings and resignations that surround the current controversy between The Denver Post and its owner, Alden Global Capital, there is one brighter spot. Westword’s Michael Roberts reported May 10 that the Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP) has established a $10,000 fund “specifically earmarked for recently axed Post employees.”

He noted that project Executive Director and Editor Alissa Quart said: “This isn’t charity. They’re going to be writing for us. Journalists love to do what they do and they want to work.” Quart developed the fund in conjunction with EHRP managing director David Wallis. Quart said the project began in 2011-2012 when its founder Barbara Ehrenreich “saw there were a huge number of journalists who were either suddenly out of work or having to work freelance, and their rates were stagnating or going down,” and reporters and photographers were being laid off.”

Laid-off Denver Post journalists who are interested in applying for these grants can see more information at the EHRP submission page, http://economichardship.org/submit/.

Youth Journalism Day set for July 19

The annual Youth Journalism Day for students in grades 4-8 is set for Thursday, July 19, hosted by The Denver Post, along with ColoradoNIE.com and Metropolitan State University of Denver. The one-day learning experience will run from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Metropolitan State University. Young journalists, writers and photographers ages 8-14 will spend the day with professionals to learn about the following areas:

  • Foundational Journalism
  • Asking Good Questions
  • Headlines That Draw Readers
  • Writing Tips
  • Photojournalism

 

Campers will form teams led by qualified adults and participate in an age-appropriate, news-gathering experience. The results will be posted on The Denver Post’s youth journalism website, http://nextgen.yourhub.com/. The best articles will be published in the Colorado Kids section of the Tuesday Denver Post.

At the end of the day, friends and family will come back at 4 p.m. to see what the campers have produced in one day. After the event, upon request, Youth J-Day participants can continue as a Colorado Kids youth reporter for the next school year.

Registration – limited to 75 students – is $65, including breakfast, lunch and a T-shirt. Also this year, a donation from a Denver Post subscriber will translate to 10 scholarships to attend the summer event. Contact dplewka@denverpost.com or call 303-954-3974 for more information.


 

Reported by Contributing Editor Cheryl Ghrist. Send your news brief information to her at caghrist@comcast.net.