31 January 2006

Fair and Balanced

John Accola and (recently married Oberlin alumni) David Milstead get some well deserved praise for their coverage of the JOA between the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News from Richard Martin at New West Boulder, accompanied by some deep thoughts about the long heralded but slow to arrive demise of the printed newspaper.

Martin notes that:

Certainly it has preserved two distinct editorial voices, with the Post hewing slightly left and the Rocky providing a conventionally conservative editorial page. That, to me, is one of the least significant results: With the cacophony of "voices" we're subjected to constantly from talk radio, cable TV and the Internet, the op-ed pages of major metro dailies matter less than they ever have.

In terms of actual reporting, most media types I've spoken to still consider the Rocky to be the more feisty and enterprising of the two papers, with the Post producing the more elegant (or stuffy, depending on our point of view) writing and features. The competitive spirit clearly lives on, at least in the Rocky's newsroom. Are readers better off with two papers instead of one? Sure.

I'm not convinced that this state of affairs will stay that way. The Post has been moving to the right since at least the 2004 Presidential election season when it made a very odd half hearted endorsement from its editorial page that seemed to reflect the paper's transitional state, while the Rocky has been bringing some strong liberal leaning columnists on board, and has, in the interest of being "feisty," turned from the yellow tabloid journalism reflected in its layout, to good old fashioned American style journalism crusading for social change, a decidedly liberal affair. This tension (plus the fact that the Rocky carries the liberal Doonesbury social commentary strip, while the Post carries the conservative Mallard Fillmore cartoon gig), have been tugging at me for some time and I may yet make the transition from Post to Rocky the next time my subscription comes up for renewal.

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