High Country News: “O Justice, when expelled from other habitations, make this thy dwelling place.”
As a bright-eyed kid with a ponytail and poorly trussed tie, I walked beneath that inscription every workday of my first decade at The Denver Post. Etched in stone at the newspaper’s former downtown office, it imbued a sense of purpose and privilege to all who entered. The lofty hope it espoused — that newspaper reporting can champion truth, meaning and a sense of community — has withered under the watch of Heath Freeman, the pernicious hedge-fund owner who is murdering the paper.
Over 21 years, I weathered more than a dozen buyouts, as The Denver Post adjusted to the changing business of newspapering. When I was hired on as an intern chasing the ultimate gig in 1997, there were more than 300 journalists in the newsroom. The latest battlefield amputations by Freeman — spurred not by need but by punitive greed after the paper missed its annual budget by a few percentage points this spring — have slashed that count to less than 60, leaving about 35 reporters and photographers as the gasping “Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire.”
Freeman is the head of Alden Global Capital, the firm that bought the Post’s parent company, the debt-addled MediaNews Group, in 2010. Over the last few years, Freeman’s vindictive hacking became too much for me. I could no longer reconcile my heart-and-soul labor with such an asshat owner. I bailed in April, and since then the exodus has grown, as a masthead of journalists — some of the very best in Colorado — flee Freeman’s foul domain.
Smart people say there are stages of grief. So far, I’ve occupied one: anger. And I’m not moving on anytime soon.
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