Tina Griego on leaving Denver Post and importance of columnists
And then there were none. The Denver Post recently laid off metro columnist Mike Littwin and reassigned newly minted fellow columnist Chuck Murphy to a social media job. That left Tina Griego as the Post's sole metro columnist -- but as she announced today, she will soon be moving with her family to Virginia. This decision has created a swirl of emotions and thoughts aplenty about the importance of columnists in today's shifting print-journalism landscape.
Griego grew up in New Mexico, but she's been in Denver for fourteen years, with two stints at the Post book-ending a run at the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News. "Fourteen years is actually not that long of a time," she allows, "but my work has taken me out into the communities and neighborhoods of Denver so much that I feel very connected here. And that part of it is really hard to leave. Really hard.
"I called a few people and said, 'I'm calling to tell you by phone because if I see you in person, I'll start crying' -- and then I start crying anyway. So many people have become very close and very precious to me, and it's hard to leave that. I'm 48 years old, and that's kind of the age where you think you're settling in: This is going to be my life, and it's a good one. And then this happens."
"This" is a job offer to Griego's husband, former Westword reporter Harrison Fletcher -- a tenure-track position at Virginia Commonwealth University. Gigs like this one "don't come around very often," Griego notes, and while relocating won't be easy for their thirteen-year-old daughter and ten-year-old son, the decision was made to take the leap. According to Griego, "My son's very roll-with-the-punches. He said to Harrison, 'I think this is going to be a great opportunity for you, Dad.'"
As this prospect was presenting itself, news broke that the Post planned to lay off two-thirds of its copy editors -- approximately sixteen from a crew of around 25. But the severance package offered to these staffers with an eye toward exits at month's end was subsequently opened up to others at the paper, and we hear that as many as five non-copy editors accepted it -- including Griego.
At this writing, Griego has a few weeks left at the Post, and she concedes that being at the paper amid the disappearance of so many other columnists (including business-section scribe Penny Parker, laid off at the same time as Littwin), "has been hard. The columnists are voices: They're voices of a city, they're voices of a newspaper. And I think it's a loss anytime that goes away."
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