John Moore among 19 taking Denver Post buyouts, layoffs not expected

john moore.jpg
John Moore.
Update: At last, we've got the complete list of Denver Post employees who have or will be leaving the paper after accepting a buyout offer: nineteen staffers from various departments, including editors, reporters and photographers. Perhaps most surprising: John Moore, the paper's theater critic and online dynamo who just was named best arts blogger at the Westword Web Awards.

Here's the Web Awards blurb about Moore:

Although he started his career at the Denver Post as a baseball editor, John Moore has become both synonymous with and incredibly successful in the theater world since his beginning in 1993. Moore, who was recently named one of American Theater magazine's 12 most influential theater critics, has spent one of the past two decades maintaining painstakingly comprehensive and wonderfully creative coverage of local theater with none of the stereotypical pretension that would keep people from finding a niche, exploring it and ultimately loving it.

Moore didn't respond to a pair of interview requests from Westword. But he's posted an announcement explaining his decision to "invite chaos" into his life. Check out this fascinating excerpt:

This buyout is the gift of time -- many months of it -- to fulfill a promise I made more than 20 years ago to the wife of a friend of mine who committed suicide, leaving behind a young daughter. I have always believed there is the potential and need for a theatrical exploration of suicide that affords possible catharsis for the living, and revelation for the judgmental. What I am imagining would combine the percussive power of indie-rock music with modern dance to tell a universal story that never gets full and unfettered attention in the theater because it is presumed to be an unwatchable subject. I would like to disprove that theory.

So I am approaching this voluntary sabbatical as a self-imposed writing commission. Whether anyone sees it or produces it is, to me, secondary. I just have to write it. And even if the chaos I have invited into my life leads to financial ruin and prolonged, self-inflicted unemployment, I will never regret taking that risk.

As for the others joining Moore in exiting the broadsheet, Post editor Greg Moore provided the following list, supplemented by each staffer's time at the paper.

Mike Keefe, 36 years
Jackie Feldman, 13 years
Jan Torpy, 23 years
Jeff Leib, 25 years
Virginia Culver, 44 years
Don Russell, 33 years
Pete Names, 38 years
John Moore, 18 years
Sheba Wheeler, 15 years
Kyle MacMillan, 11 years
Robert Smith, 21 years
John Prieto, 45 years
Jonathan Moreno, 18 years
Joyce Anderson, 32 years
Jeanette Chavez, 27 years
Joe Hudson, 21 years
Bill Husted, 15 years
Jim Carr, 8 years
Natalie Meisler, 35 years

To put it mildly, the Post will be losing an enormous amount of institutional knowledge as a result of these moves, from every corner of the editorial department -- from transportation expert Lieb to Chavez, the managing editor/administration. Moreover, the number of people who took the deal -- including folks like Carr, who's only been at the paper for eight years, and Moore, who's nowhere close to retirement age -- suggests that staffers don't expect another buyout offer in the future. If additional belt-tightening is required, most people believe layoffs will be the first option, not the last.

This time around, though, more job cuts are unlikely, at least in the immediate future. As Moore notes via e-mail, "We achieved the goals with the buyout" -- the target had been fifteen to twenty employees -- "and I don't think we'll need to do layoffs, which is something we wanted to avoid. But even if I had a crystal ball I wouldn't use it to predict the future. I don't think anybody would."

True enough. In the meantime, Moore confirms that the paper has announced a search among current staffers for a new metro columnist. Less than a year ago, the paper had three such columnists, but Mike Littwin's work was moved to the op-ed section and Bill Johnson resigned in August, leaving only Tina Griego plying the trade. Now, with Husted leaving, the Denver and the West section will be light on personalities; Penny Parker's gossip-oriented coverage is currently appearing in the Business section. As such, the Post braintrust clearly believes it needs to put another face on the metro beat.

And the changes continue. Look below for our earlier coverage.

joanne davidson.jpg
Joanne Davidson.
Original post, 7:48 a.m. November 28: Who's taking a buyout offer from the Denver Post? We should have answers soon.

This morning, Post editor Greg Moore noted via e-mail that he's hoping to know more today regarding the list of those who'll be moving on. But cartoonist Mike Keefe has definitely accepted the deal for which columnist Bill Husted has also applied, while society writer Joanne Davidson pulled out.

The word about Keefe comes from a nice tribute by Curtis Hubbard featured in Sunday's Post. The article's focus on Keefe's accomplishments was appropriate. However, Hubbard's one line about the buyout -- described as an offer made to "longtime employees as we continue to maneuver the industry's choppy financial seas" -- left out a sad truth about the situation. Papers across the country, including this one, have been laying off their cartoonists with increasing frequency, and Keefe undoubtedly knew that even his 2011 Pulitzer Prize for cartooning wouldn't prevent him from joining their number.

As for Davidson, local PR gadfly Randy Wren posted the following on his Facebook page last Tuesday:

What a heart-breaker! On the 16th Street Mall, I just ran into FB friend, and Denver Post columnist, Bill Husted and he informs me that both he and Joanne Davidson have accepted some sort of a buyout! And his last column is next week!

The de facto announcement prompted this reply from Davidson:

Earlier today, Randy Mack Wren posted right here on Facebook that I was one of those who'd accepted a buyout at The Denver Post. To set the record straight, I haven't. I had applied for one but in the end, the prospect of being part of a whole new era of newsgathering was much too exciting to pass up and I withdrew my application. The inevitable challenges and frustrations that will come as we staff a 24/7 newsroom and transition to digital platforms don't scare me; I have, after all, survived manual typewriters and mobile phones the size (and weight) of a cinderblock. Not being in the thick of things does.

So, it looks like y'all WILL have me to kick around for a while longer!

There's been no such retraction from Husted, whose plans we shared in late October. But just because someone has applied for a buyout doesn't mean he or she will definitely get it. The Post has reserved the right to say "no" in case too many people from a single department want to split. And the individuals themselves also had a week to change their mind.

Given that, we're hearing from reliable sources that lifestyles reporter Sheba Wheeler and arts and classical music writer Kyle MacMillan will be joining Keefe and Husted on the buyout list -- one that reportedly needs to reach a threshold of at least ten more names in order to prevent layoffs. When we learn all the monikers, we'll update this post.

Click here to follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Media archive: "Denver Post: If 15-20 newsroom staffers don't take buyout, layoffs could follow."

My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
Deejaytazz7
Deejaytazz7

the end is near and thats sad, when bill leaves  ill stop reading that paper

Parfrjo
Parfrjo

Looks like The Post is becoming the post, just another McNewspaper. God help us if the investigative journalists are let go. Anybody know if there are any sports writers among the departed? I'd doubt it.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Craigslist KILLED the Newspapers' cash cow !

mhb
mhb

You did it again - you mispelled Jeff Leib's last name.  It is LEIB not Lieb.  :o)

picky
picky

That actually spelled "misspelled."

D Milst
D Milst

Great, now the Post will be even more out of touch with the community they cover. Reporting will be even more one-sided than it already is, and the next generation of reporters will care even less about fairness and balance, and focus more on sensationalism.

Bill
Bill

More free time for Natalie Meisler to key cars. Watch where you park.

eCurmudgeon
eCurmudgeon

"[A]n enormous amount of institutional knowledge" is not needed if you decide to just re-write press releases as "news" stories, which as far as I can tell is the Denver Post's strategy of late...

John Wenzel
John Wenzel

Normally I dismiss ignorant, trolling comments like this as the opinions of people who don't even read the paper anymore, but these buyouts hit me (and our Entertainment department) at The Post really hard, and it's incredibly insulting to the people here still doing great work to say that The Post just rewrites press releases and is biased, or in the pocket of publicists, or whatever other familiar refrain you're parroting. The Post is one of dozens of papers across the country (mainstream and alternative) fighting as hard as it can to cast light on corruption, protect and improve communities through transparency and accountability, and otherwise report, break and investigate news that few others would have the time, resources or training to cover responsibly. Or at all.

Does this look like a re-written press release, eCurmudgeon?

http://www.denverpost.com/brea...

This is the kind of journalism that takes time, dozens of phone calls, assiduous fact-checking and years of experience to pull off on a daily basis, and The Post is still doing it. Are we perfect? Of course not, but think twice when you dismiss the efforts of hundreds of people essentially working on your behalf, and without your encouragement or support.

C.J.
C.J.

That's 478 years of combined experience. And probably over 500 when you add in the firing of Jim Armstrong.

Wendy Norris
Wendy Norris

Here's the list according to the Post: http://blogs.denverpost.com/th...

Some names may be recognizable to the reading public, others were key players behind the scenes. Here are those employees who took the buyout: Jeff Leib; Mike Keefe; Jackie Feldman; Jan Torpy; Virginia Culver; Don Russell; Pete Names; John Moore; Sheba Wheeler; Kyle MacMillan; Robert Smith; John Prieto; Jonathan Moreno; Joyce Anderson; Jeanette Chavez; Joe Hudson; Bill Husted; Jim Carr and Natalie Meisler.

Ken Beegle
Ken Beegle

Jeff Leib is also going. He's as solid and professional a journalist as you'll have the privilege of reading.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for passing along the info, Ken. We're still waiting for a final list, will publish it as soon as we can.

Guest
Guest

John Moore is gone as well.

Kylelance49
Kylelance49

Virginia, Bill and Mike are huge losses to The Denver Post.

Guest
Guest

Michael, you're usually ahead of the curve on these issues. I'm surprised to see you're behind on this one, and what happens next.

Jaio
Jaio

*Sheba. 

Also the Post is a union shop, so with his seniority there is little chance, if any, he would be laid off if he had chosen to stay.

 Spelling and fact-checking are casualties of fast, new media, clearly.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Sorry about the error. It's now been corrected. Thanks for setting us straight.

rain
rain

Keefe is a major talent, it's a damned shame that he's leaving.

C.J.
C.J.

Husted definitely is taking it. He wrote this on his Facebook feed last Tuesday: "well, i'll find out more when it get to the paper - but informed last night i got the buyout, last day at denver piost 11/29. one more column, one less egg to fry." And on Saturday: "cleaning out my desk at the post. why are there so many pictures of miss colorados???"

Also leaving is Virginia Culver.http://blogs.denverpost.com/th...

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for adding the link about Virginia Culver, C.J.

davebarnes
davebarnes

"Papers across the country, including this one, have been laying off their cartoonists"Did Westword axe Kenny Be?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Kenny Be is continuing to contribute to Westword, but on a freelance basis.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...