Colorado Statesman Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Jared Wright announced last week that a special edition of the Statesman will be inserted in The Denver Post on Thursdays.
Wright wrote in the Statesman June 9 that his newspaper is “launching a new sister publication, The Colorado Statesman ‘Worldwide Edition,’ which, thanks to our friends at The Denver Post, will be inserted in the Post every Thursday. In doing so, we are introducing thousands of Denver Post subscribers to what I believe is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets.”
This is not a journalistic partnership among friends, but a “business deal,” according to Post Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, who told me in an email that she doesn’t know the details.
“ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT” is printed on the bottom of the front page of today’s Statesman insert in The Post. There’s no other indication, throughout the 16-page insert, that the Statesman is an advertisement. As such, it’s kind of like the Sunday Parade Magazine insert, which is an ad, and in the same ballpark as outrageous news inserts, like fake news provided by the oil and gas industry, that aren’t labeled clearly enough as ads. Thankfully, the articles in these advertisements don’t appear in searches for news articles on The Post’s website or archive.
I’d like The Post to label the Statesman more clearly as an ad, but, in any case, it’s a creative way for the Statesman to reach an audience that’s literate and interested in politics, and may want to see more political news than The Post is offering these days in the wake of budget disasters. Journalism experiments are good, and you want to see the good journalism at the Statesman survive.
The downside: Readers could easily be confused that The Post is endorsing The Statesman’s content, which this week includes articles on the DA race, Bill Ritter, and the presidential race in Colorado.
Not that I don’t respect some of the journalists at the Statesman. I do. And Wright has assured me that he’s committed to journalistic standards (despite a troublesome conservative hiccup in news coverage I found last month) and despite anecdotal oddities that pop up every now and then in coverage.
But sources tell me the controlling owner is Republican donor Larry Mizel, whose photo is splashed across the cover of last week’s subscriber edition with a big headline “Annual Mizel Dinner, Bringing Denver Together.” Mizel is pictured with Denver’s Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock. Inside, a gushing article, written by Wright, says Mizel “is regularly recognized as being one of the most influential people in Denver,” but doesn’t mention that Mizel apparently owns the newspaper.
To my way of thinking, this type of coverage of the Mizel event, which is newsworthy to be sure, indicates a stealth coziness with Mizel that has potential to influence the political journalism at the weekly.
Wright did not return multiple calls and an email seeking comment for this article.
Still, I want to believe Wright when he writes in the Statesman that his newspaper’s new readers in The Post “will gain a better understanding of the people behind the politics — the same people that craft the laws and regulations impacting you and me at every corner we turn in our daily journeys, whether it’s driving on our morning commutes, working at our offices, shopping at the hardware store, buying groceries, paying a visit to the doctor for a checkup, getting a haircut, taking our children to school — you name it.”
But will Post readers benefit? Or be fooled?