True confession No. 1: I keep a lot of stuff that I should have thrown away.
True confession No. 2: I subscribe to three daily newspapers. So yeah, I’ve got a lot of old newspapers in the basement.
For some reason, I saved the editorial section of the Sunday, Dec. 16, 1990, edition of The Denver Post and the front section of the Wednesday, May 15, 1996, Gazette Telegraph.
I compared them to the three papers that arrived on my doorstep early this morning; The Gazette, The New York Times and The Denver Post.
Old friends, you sure have changed — and not for the better. It was like looking at pictures of oneself as a confident, handsome, athletic young person, and then looking in a mirror. The kid has disappeared, replaced by an old person.
The 1996 Gazette Telegraph was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of its day. It was a 12.5-by-23-inch broadsheet, with great color reproduction on the cover and five sections. The front page featured four local stories, leading above the fold with Rich Laden’s story about Colorado Springs City Council’s not-quite decision to pave the Pikes Peak Highway.
At 12 inches by 21 inches, the current Gazette is somewhat diminished in size, but otherwise healthy, with four sections. The Business section features a story above the fold titled “Home prices soar in Springs,” written by (some things never change) Rich Laden. The New York Times is the same size, but with six columns squeezed into 12 inches — talk about fine print!
Published in the halcyon two-daily newspaper era when the Post and the Rocky battled for readers, the 1990 Post’s “Perspective” was one of eight sections in the bulky Sunday paper. It’s another full broadsheet, with six pages, nine letters to the editor, three fiery liberal editorials, 14 columns (only two by women), a cartoon and a full-page ad for Cub Foods on the back cover.
How the mighty have fallen! Tuesday’s Post could best be described as a cute little sort-of newspaper. It’s a mere 11 inches by 21 inches with two sections. The editorial page is just that — one page, a cartoon, two national columnists, three letters to the editor, no local editorial content and no masthead. Four officials are listed at the bottom of the page — VPs of finance, circulation, human resources and information technology. No email addresses or phone numbers are included. It’s a sad parody of what was once a great newspaper, a pretender trying to pass as a contender.
Moving to weeklies, let’s compare early issues of the Colorado Springs Independent and the Business Journal with last week’s edition.
CSBJ’s first edition, a bimonthly, was published on April 1, 1989. It was a 15-by-11.5-inch, 20-page publication with a staff of five. The brand new paper featured full-page ads from Central Bank and Cheyenne Mountain Conference Resort, and columns from local seers Bud Patterson and Cliff Kruse. The front-page story “Arena: Down to the Wire” was about the hotly debated and ultimately voter-rejected proposal to build a downtown sports arena (some things never change!).
Last Friday’s CSBJ (now a weekly) is the same size as its 1989 predecessor, but at 32 pages it’s 60 percent larger. As in the past, almost all content is locally generated. To the best of my knowledge, the paper and its parent are solvent, successful and growing. And yeah, I read the paper from cover to cover every week.
Our sister pub, the weekly Colorado Springs Independent, started in 1993. The 36-page edition of May 31-June 6, 1995, was a 14-by-11.5-inch tabloid, put out by a full-time staff of more than 20. The cover story concerned the trial and acquittal of Eugene Baylis, who had walked into a bar on North Nevada Avenue and shot nine people, killing two.
The May 9-15, 2018, Independent is the same size, but at 48 pages it’s 50 percent larger. Like its 1995 predecessor, it’s ad-heavy, but the mix has changed. The personals, classified, backside and adult ads have vanished, but cannabis-related businesses have filled the gap, and then some. The full-time staff is still around 25, in part because there’s some staff overlap between CSBJ and other smaller pubs that Colorado Publishing owns.
So that’s the news — good, bad and indifferent. The conclusion: I’m canceling the poor old Post.