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Mike Littwin on his Denver Post ouster and new Colorado Independent challenge

Categories: Media

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Mike Littwin.
In March 2012, Mike Littwin, widely acknowledged as the best known and most popular newspaper columnist in the city, was ignominiously bounced from his gig at the Denver Post in a cost-cutting tactic.

Since then, Littwin sightings have been rare. But at long last, he's back, reemerging as one of the main draws at the relaunched Colorado Independent website. Below, hear what he has to say about his departure from the Post, his Independent move and the future of newspapering.

Littwin, who'd served as a prominent columnist at the Rocky Mountain News until the tabloid's 2009 closure, didn't say much publicly after being disappeared at the Post, which also bid farewell to business-section columnist Penny Parker and YourHub's Dacia Johnson, and ended Chuck Murphy's metro column in order to shift him to a new position.

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Littwin is still using the photo that ran with his Post columns as his Twitter icon.
Sources told us the latter move was made due to union rules that would have required Murphy, the most recent columnist hire, to be laid off instead of Littwin. And things got even more complicated when the Post's sole remaining columnist, Tina Griego, took a severance deal and moved with her family to Virginia. Under the aforementioned union contract, the Post either had to rehire Littwin or Parker or do without a columnist until March 2013 -- and the paper chose the latter course.

"They never really tried to hire me back," Littwin confirms. "We had some discussions, but most of them were basically about health care and making sure I was covered while I wasn't writing. That's the world of newspapers: You think of all the difficulties of people losing their jobs, but it really comes down to something as simple as, 'Do I have health care?' and how scary it is to be out in the world without it. But we got that straightened out, fortunately."

Regarding his sacking, "they came to me and said they were in deep, unexpected financial trouble and they had to get $500,000 off the books," he recalls. "I wish I could say that just getting rid of me would have saved them $500,000. If so, I'd be off on some nice island at this point. But it shows the financial straits they were in then, and I think they remain in."

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Littwin with Michael Scherer at the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.
To save the half-million, Littwin notes, "they got rid of me, they got rid of Penny, and they got Woody" -- that's sports columnist and ESPN personality Woody Paige -- "to give back some money." (We contacted Paige at the time after hearing such reports; he never responded.) "And they got a couple of other people to give back money, too.

"It's sort of ironic that for the people who were in the union, they couldn't ask them to give back money -- so instead of asking them to give back money, they just got rid of them, laid them off." He adds, "It was really hard to take at the time. It was difficult."

No wonder, since, as Littwin points out, "I've been in the business for forty years" -- his first job, at age 21, was covering the ABA's Virginia Squires when the team featured Julius "Dr. J" Erving -- "and a columnist for thirty."

Looked at in its totality, Littwin believes "I've had one of the luckiest careers anybody could ever image, with all the stuff I've gotten to do. But when you're tossed out and you're sixty years old, you've still got to figure out what to do."

Continue for more of our interview with Mike Littwin.



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22 comments
Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

So, when someone who has money does it, it's "exploitation," but when someone who's broke does it, they're "the good guys."

If that' doesn't just encapsulate "progressivism" right there. It follows that if we interfere with the market enough to make everyone poor, we'll all be "good guys." Sounds about like our good friends in Cuba.

In fact, that whole thing about how the poor must be the "good guys" even when they do the same things they don't like the rich doing sounds familiar. It's kinda like how whites can be racist but people of color somehow can't. (?)

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

"It's sort of ironic that for the people who were in the union, they couldn't ask them to give back money -- so instead of asking them to give back money, they just got rid of them, laid them off."

That's the market, as a last resort, protecting itself from unions.

John Larson
John Larson

I don't know what these ow.ly links are all about, but they aren't working

DougHubka
DougHubka

Wonderful to see Littwin back in the game. He was one of the best  at the Rocky  and the Post. He covered sports, news and commentary in an enjoyable and informative way.

John Lacey
John Lacey

Mike Rosen is suffering from epic abdominal cramps and other associated maladies upon hearing his archenemy is back and writing.

Shayne Barrett
Shayne Barrett

Still waiting for someone to sack the DP. Mike never left. He just moved to an improved format. :)

Theresa M Moore
Theresa M Moore

I've been following Mike Littwin on Twitter since his DP ouster -- love it!

Michael Sabin
Michael Sabin

Best known and most popular??? Where?? By who?

Carol Rushton
Carol Rushton

I was wondering what happened to him. Gotta pick up this week's Westwood.

RustyShackleford
RustyShackleford

Look at it this way: Littwin didn't get fired, he beat the inevitable rush as the rest of the Post goes out of business in the not-too-distant future...

whosdp
whosdp

Littwin speaks the same way he writes...like a hit-man.  He may be willing to slap a liberal, occasionally, but would never stoop to applaud anything done by a conservative.  It's that lopsidedness which made him expendable to the Post.  One could always figure out his take before even reading his columns.

It's not surprising he found no takers, other than the Independent, for his services.  His side is WELL represented in the media, without him.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Excellent article. Thanks.

MisterAK47
MisterAK47

@DougHubkaHe [Littwin] covered sports, news and commentary in an enjoyable and informative way... 

   Sure, if you enjoy the 'Communist view' of things! 

meanstreetsofsouthdenver
meanstreetsofsouthdenver

@whosdp you understand that opinion writers are generally "lopsided", right? That that's what they're paid for? (See Rosen comma Mike).  You therefore understand that what you've written makes absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever?

whosdp
whosdp

@meanstreetsofsouthdenver @whosdp Unlike Rosen, who spends a lot of his time swimming upstream here in blue Colorado, Littwin revels in populist outrage, flames far easier to fan.

The bigger distinction between the two is marketability.  While Rosen brings a huge audience to his columns (likewise with his radio show), Littwin, more often than not, didn't.  Newspapers are starving for readership and Littwin's preaching to his devoted choir didn't justify his salary...if it did, he'd still be writing his column.

Rosen's libertarian streak isn't always simpatico with Republicans, another reason why his columns are so much more popular than were Littwin's, who very SELDOM found anything wrong with ultra-liberals.  Since the Post leans left, it's decision to trim Littwin's salary is confirmation of what I'm saying.

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