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Lisa Kennedy to split film and theater critic duties at Denver Post

lisa kennedy screen capture.jpg
Lisa Kennedy.
Newspapers across the country have slashed staff to save money, with movie reviewer and theater critic positions among the most popular cuts. Given that reality, the Denver Post deserves credit for continuing to dedicate a staff writer to these subjects, even though one person -- Lisa Kennedy -- will now cover beats that until recently were handled by two.

john moore.jpg
John Moore.
This decision was necessitated by a sequence of events that stretch back nearly six months. In early October, the Post announced a buyout offer aimed at reducing the editorial staff by fifteen-to-twenty positions -- and if that number of folks didn't take the deal, layoffs were among the possibilities.

Newsroomers soon concluded that the buyout wouldn't be repeated -- a theory that the recent layoffs of columnists Mike Littwin and Penny Parker has done little to shake. As such, plenty of big name talent considered signing up, with on-the-town columnist Bill Husted the first to confirm that he'd applied. Yet journalism-scene observers were still surprised by some of the nineteen staffers who ultimately exited -- among them Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mike Keefe and John Moore, a theater critic so beloved that Juliet Wittman, our expert on the topic, wrote that he left a void in the theater scene when he decided to move on long before he'd reached retirement age.

This gap has now been belatedly filled, with none other than Moore making the announcement on the Post's theater Facebook page; see the message in its entirety below.

mike littwin facebook photo.jpg
Mike Littwin.
At this writing, Kennedy hasn't responded to interview requests sent late last week via voicemail and e-mail. However, Tucker Shaw, senior editor of features at the paper, did reply via e-mail.

"We are totally psyched," he writes about Kennedy's addition of theater to her duties. "She's as passionate about theater as she is about film, and has been an avid supporter of the theater scene for years. She's also a killer writer and well-respected in the theater community -- many in that community have reached out to me in the past few days to say how pleased they are with her appointment."

Any concern that theater in Denver will now be getting less attention, since Kennedy must divide her time between two disciplines rather than focusing entirely on the stage?

"Of course, nothing in the newspaper business is as easy as it was when we had more feet on the ground," Shaw concedes. "We lost John Moore last fall, and he is no easy act to follow. But if anyone can carry on the deep and cohesive theater coverage that the Post is already known for, Kennedy can. She'll have longer days for sure -- screenings in the morning and plays at night -- but who in the media business isn't working harder these days?

"I'm certain that Lisa will cover the beat in an intelligent, inclusive way without dropping any balls," he goes on. "That's why we tapped her for the job -- she's capable, clear-thinking, and has a great sense of storytelling. She knows what connects, and she's always been an effective critic and engaging communicator. It's a great fit."

This approach is certainly better than giving up major coverage of local theater or replacing Kennedy's film critiques with wire copy. And amid current rumblings about further shrinkage to the Post's weekly page count, the news certainly could have been worse. In today's print-journalism environment, the choice isn't between more and less, but between less and a lot less.

Click to read Moore's message to the theater community about Kennedy.



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