The odd disappearance of the Denver Post's Bob Ewegen

Categories: Media

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Bob Ewegen began working at the Denver Post in the early '70s, most recently serving as the paper's assistant editorial-page editor. So his departure from the paper in mid-November should have been a time for tribute. Instead, the paper has responded with near silence, as has Ewegen himself.

After receiving a tip a few weeks back that Ewegen had vamoosed, I phoned his Post extension and heard a voice-mail message confirming his retirement. I then phoned editorial-page editor Dan Haley, who said that Ewegen had indeed left the paper -- but he declined to provide any details, calling it a "personnel matter." I subsequently obtained what I feel confident is Ewegen's personal e-mail address, but he didn't respond to a pair of notes asking to chat.

Meanwhile, rumors swirled about the reason behind his sudden decision to vacate the premises. One school of thought held that Ewegen had quit after being chastised for spending too much time posting on outside websites during work hours -- something that had happened once before, as documented in the May 2006 Message column "Blog Bog." As evidence, people who espoused this theory pointed to a Post memo about blog ethics sent to staffers shortly after Ewegen left. It's reproduced at the bottom of this item.

What happened next shoots holes in such speculation. Shortly after he mentioned Ewegen in a December 6 piece, Rocky Mountain News media columnist Jason Salzman published an e-mail from Ewegen on his BigMedia.org site. It reads:

To All:


I don't want to comment other than the fact that I already told my colleagues, which is that I will start working with my daughter Misty Ewegen as a paralegal in January. I've already signed up for classes in legal research and legal writing at CCD.

There are some personal issues here but I have written publicly several times about my diabetes, which I was diagnosed with in 1973, just a few months after I joined The Post. Retiring at this time will help me focus on my health. I have also considered for years going to law school after I retired from The Post and if I can regain my full vitality, that may yet happen in 2011.

I had 36 great years at The Post but now I'm able to give my family and grandchildren the attention they deserve. I'm not ruling out a return to journalism at some future point but at the moment my health and family considerations understandably are at center stage in my life.

Best Wishes

Bob

That may be the whole story. But if so, why the weird evasiveness from everyone involved? Granted, Ewegen doesn't owe anyone an explanation -- but as a lifelong journalist, he should certainly understand why his readers and peers aren't wholly satisfied by the information that's surfaced to date.

Look below to read the aforementioned Post blogging memo. -- Michael Roberts

The Denver Post has embraced the tremendous story-telling and reader-interaction possibilities provided by the Internet. We want to do more, including video reports and commentaries, and staff-produced podcasts and blogs.

Many Denver Post reporters and columnists already blog. Blogs allow readers to connect with us on a more personal level, and they help us in building an online audience. We encourage blogging, but we also realize it presents many of the same ethical issues inherent in traditional newspaper journalism, as well as some new issues. The Denver Post's ethics policy provides ample guidance as we provide different kinds of content via the Internet. The policy's requirements of accuracy, fairness, independence and disclosure will continue to guide everything we do, including blogging.

This addendum to our ethics policy deals with additional issues, and offers guidelines, specific to blogging and other forms of Internet-based story-telling:

All blogs on Denverpost.com or its related sites (i.e., PoliticsWest.com) must first be approved by a supervisor and by the Managing Editor/News or the Editor.

Nothing may be published under the Denver Post name, or on its internet sites, unless it has gone through an editing and/or approval process. While blogs are more often written in an informal and personal style, everything that is posted to a blog must be factual and fair. Maliciously and inaccurately attacking private citizens or public officials is prohibited, and any criticism of public officials needs to meet the same standards of fairness as in print.

Blogging about people or institutions with which you have a personal relationship is a conflict of interest. The same standards you would adhere to in the paper apply to blogs.

A staff member of The Denver Post who publishes a blog on a web site outside of the Denver Post's control should first alert a supervisor or the Managing Editor/News. This requirement is similar to the freelancing guidelines in our ethics policy. A staff member should not write or blog for a site operated by a Denver Post competitor without approval of a supervisor and the Managing Editor/News. Any questions about what may constitute a competitor should be discussed with the Managing Editor/News or the Editor.

A staff member who writes a personal blog or who writes for a non-Denver Post internet site should generally avoid writing about topics, institutions or organizations they cover for The Denver Post. This helps to prevent any confusion between professional and personal activities. No personal blog should imply the endorsement of The Denver Post, and no Denver Post photograph, video, text or audio may be used on a personal blog without permission from The Denver Post.

Staff members who post comments on Internet chat sites, web pages or the blogs of others should use their names and avoid using pseudonyms. We do not publish stories anonymously in the paper, and we should not blog or post online anonymously.

Post reporters who are not columnists, and editors, should avoid posting opinions on blogs, chat sites or web pages that would raise questions about their objectivity as a reporter or editor. Failure to observe this guideline could result in being removed from a beat, barred from reporting certain subjects or other disciplinary action.

Postings on outside blogs, whether they are your blog or another's, should be written in a temperate tone. They should not attack, humiliate or defame others. The line between a strong blogging "voice" and opinion is often a thin one that is not easily discerned by others. Staff members should also take great care in writing posts that might otherwise violate our ethics policy. Taking a strong position on a political issue, for instance, can raise the same questions of fairness and objectivity as marching in a political protest. When in doubt, consult a supervisor.

Referring to personal blogs and websites in the paper is forbidden unless authorized by the Managing Editor/News or Editor.

The private web pages and blogs of staff members should be free of advertising or sponsorships from organizations or individuals who may fall into your area of coverage or expertise.

Staff members who blog should disclose any potential conflicts of interest due to memberships, affiliations or personal agendas, and resist pressure from any special interest that seeks favored treatment.

Bloggers should admit mistakes and correct them quickly.


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