Denver Post covers Aurora theater shootings without official columnist

Thumbnail image for chuck murphy facebook photo.jpg
Chuck Murphy.
Covering the Aurora theater shootings would have been a huge challenge for the Denver Post under any circumstances. But right now, the paper is operating under a strange handicap. For reasons that involve highly technical union rules, the Post doesn't officially have a columnist -- and its attempt to work around the situation with help from ex-columnist Chuck Murphy are currently being undercut by mixed messages on the broadsheet's website.

Thumbnail image for mike littwin facebook photo.jpg
Mike Littwin.
Back in March, as you'll recall, the Post laid off high-profile staffers Mike Littwin and Penny Parker in a cost-cutting move, and transferred columnist Murphy into a behind-the-scenes social-media role after eliminating his position. Sources tell us the latter move was made because the Post's contract with the Denver Newspaper Guild would have required the paper to give Littwin Murphy's old gig if it had continued to exist.

These maneuvers left Tina Griego as the paper's only metro columnist. But then, in mid-May, Griego announced she was leaving the Post to relocate with her family to Virginia. The Post couldn't simply give Murphy her job, however, because Littwin and Parker had more seniority in the position. As such, the Post either had to rehire one of them or go without a columnist, as laid out in this contract clause:

Employees who are dismissed to reduce the force and employees who have elected to bump into another job title will be placed on a rehiring list, based on seniority, and will be rehired on a seniority basis in the old job title if and when a vacancy occurs.

How long must the Post remain columnist-free if managers don't want to pony up for Littwin's or Parker's services? According to the contract, "All rehire lists shall be maintained for one (1) year from the date of dismissal" -- meaning that no new columnist other than these two can be hired until March 2013.

The assault at the Aurora Century 16 during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises threw a serious kink into this plan. Having no columns in the mix on such a massive story was unthinkable. So since the assault, the Post has run a number of pieces under the "Commentary" heading -- some by sports columnist Woody Paige, who has occasionally written news columns over the years, and more by Murphy.

Murphy "is not listed as a columnist as far as I know," Post editor Greg Moore writes via e-mail. "He is writing pieces labeled as commentary, much the way sports writer Terry Frei does from time to time."

But while the print versions of Murphy's pieces don't describe him as a columnist, the ones online do not once but twice -- alongside his photo, which dates back to his columnist days, and under his byline, as seen in this screen capture:

chuck murphy columnist screen capture.jpg
After seeing this image, Moore replied, "That must be an error."

If so, it's one that has not been fixed at this writing. All of which suggests that going nearly a year without a columnist for a major metro daily wound up being harder than bean counters may have thought.

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes Facebook tribute pages: Should person behind largest be sterilized?"


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3 comments
Riddlemethis
Riddlemethis

The Post can't keep up to hourly reports on this, the news has cobwebs on it when you read it. TMZ and Drudge have destroyed its meaning to exist. The Post has to do the human element tales. If they had any balls they'd have an investigative journalist to uncover what Drudge reported days ago that a pink haired wack was getting some additions to his assault rifle. Interview the seller on how he didn't go to the police much like the Florida air training people who gave lessons on how to take off Boeing 727's with no landing before 911 to arabs. The Post pushed away the Hancock hooker story and freaking 9news wouldn't let their journalist run with it.  Loved how his local dive bar circled the wagons on the Joker being there.

Bill
Bill

Not only no columnists but no copy desk either. The print product I've picked up the past few days has been slightly above par with a handful of typos.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Socialist Labor Unions DESTROYED American Industry.

 

The Denver Post sucks anyway, a pathetic Reich-wing rag not worthy of wrapping fish.

 

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