Denver Post pulls back

We don’t know all of the thinking that went into The Denver Post’s decision to lay off more people in its newsroom this week. But we do know it is unfortunate, both for journalism as an industry and for the ability of Coloradans to stay informed on what is occurring in their state.

The move has added significance, coming as it does a little more than three years after The Rocky Mountain News stopped publishing and left the Post as not only the single major daily newspaper in Denver, but the primary source of statewide news, as well.

As of late Thursday, there had been no official word from the Post about the layoffs, but two alternative news sources, Colorado Pols and Westword, each had articles on the Post’s cutbacks. Westword also printed an internal memo reportedly from Post editor Greg Moore, informing staff about the cuts.

Two of the prominent layoffs are columnists the Post added to its staff when the Rocky shut down. Penny Parker wrote about the Denver metro scene and area celebrities. Mike Littwin wrote about everything from the Denver Broncos to state and federal politics. Littwin has great sources and often provided insights — from a left-of-center perspective — that few other writers could offer. One other regional writer was laid off and another columnist was transferred exclusively to editing duties, Westword reported.

Moore’s memo, as it appeared in Westword.com, attributed the layoffs to the Post’s “difficult financial situation.”

We can certainly understand that. The Daily Sentinel has been forced to make its own cutbacks in recent years as a result of the tough economy. So have most businesses, the majority of which have nothing to do with the news media.

However, we can’t help but believe that difficult situation was exacerbated by the Post’s decision to continue giving away its valuable news content for free on the Internet. The Daily Sentinel and many other newspapers around the country — including some owned by Media News Group that owns the Post — have begun charging for most online content for that very reason.

Be that as it may, the Post’s pullback in news and commentary staffing is unfortunate. Although we expect Post will remain the excellent newspaper it has been for so long, the latest cutbacks mark a continuing retreat in news coverage by this state’s most prominent newspapers, a retreat that began well before The Rocky Mountain News halted publication.


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