Colorado Politics, a digital and print news outlet with a conservative editorial page, has stopped republishing articles from Center Square, a conservative news service that claims to be competing with the Associated Press and other newswires.
The last Center Square article appeared on Colorado Politics’ website on Sept. 21, 2021, the day before the Colorado Times Recorder published an article spotlighting 33 of Center Square’s conservative-leaning news stories on Colorado Politics’ website. The article, which I wrote, cited evidence that some of Center Square’s funders, staffers, and content lean to the Republican right — despite Center Square’s claim that it doesn’t favor conservatives.
Center Square’s parent company, the nonprofit Franklin News Foundation, doesn’t identify its sources of funding for itself or for Center Square, claiming Center Square delivers “objective, balanced” news stories with a “taxpayer sensibility.”
Colorado Politics advising editor Vince Bzdek didn’t respond to requests for comment last year, when my original article was published.
Unanswered questions at the time, when Center Square articles were appearing in Colorado Politics, were whether Colorado Politics would publish news content from Colorado Newsline, which names its funders, including major progressive donors, and produces journalism that’s credentialed by the Colorado Capitol press corps, or from the Colorado Times Recorder, which has undisclosed progressive donors and writes from an openly progressive perspective. Both news sites offer their content for free, as Center Square does.
Bzdek, who served as an editor at the Washington Post and The Denver Post, did not respond to an email last week seeking an explanation for why Center Square’s content was dumped. Colorado Politics Publisher Jared Wright also did not return an email.
Bzdek’s silence on the disappearance of Center Square articles is particularly noteworthy given that Colorado Politics’ conservative editorial stance and its ownership by a GOP mega-donor.
Also, Bzdek has accused Denver media outlets (The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun, Westword, Colorado Public Radio) of having a liberal slant — so you’d think he might welcome the chance to talk about why his outlet scrubbed conservative content from its news site, if his concerns about Center Square’s bias are the reason Center Square articles were dropped from Colorado Politics. (In any case, Bzdek never produced data to back up his claims of partisanship by Denver news organizations.) It’s more likely Bzdek had no role in the decision to stop using Center Square content, but who knows?
Colorado Politics and its affiliated publications, the Denver Gazette and the Colorado Springs Gazette, which had a publishing agreement with the conservative news site Watchdog before Watchdog became Center Square, are owned via Clarity Media by billionaire businessman and GOP donor Phil Anschutz.
Clarity also owns the Washington Examiner, whose news and opinion articles regularly appear in Colorado Politics and other Clarity outlets. Colorado Politics shares news content with 9News.
Despite his organization’s claim to be “dedicated to the principles of transparency” and the “highest standards” of “accessibility,” Chris Krug, the director of the Franklin News Foundation, did not return an email seeking comment. Nor did he comment for my article last year.
Since September of last year, the only mentions of Center Square in Colorado Politics are found in two opinion columns (Crime + Economy = Trouble for Ruling Dems and ‘Equity’ Training Drives Races Apart).
Donors Trust, a right-wing contributor, gave the Franklin News Foundation just under $1 million in part “to balance the liberal media with conservative & libertarian media,” according to a 2021 report in the Columbia Journalism Review.
But Franklin’s website states, “Franklin News Foundation has a diverse base of donors that includes contributions from private citizens and foundations with a passion for non-partisan, non-political state-based coverage of taxation and government’s spending of tax dollars.”
Center Square claims to be covering state government in all 50 states.
“Unlike newswires like the AP that charge outlets to republish their version of the ‘news,’ we offer local news outlets a meaningful choice by distributing our content to them free of charge,” states the website, which claims the news service reaches “millions of daily news consumers.”
“For example, our articles were republished 176,813 times by 578 outlets nationwide in 2021 (53% and 15% increases, respectively, over 2020),” states the website. “We’re experiencing further growth in 2022. … We ended May 2022 with 25,905 article republications, the most in company history during any one-month period.”
Center Square News Articles Published by Colorado Politics, Roughly Categorized As Neutral, os Reflecting a Broad Progressive or Conservative Agenda: