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Off Limits

Our daily dread: As if Denver's newspaper war weren't already hell, another combatant has entered the field: the New York Times. The venerable newspaper has poured $20 million into a national advertising campaign, promising not only that readers across the country can "expect the world," but also have it delivered to their door each morning, thanks to a congenial arrangement with the circulation departments of thirty daily papers.

These "all-of-our-news-that-fits-on-your-trucks pitch," as Fortune magazine recently termed it, pays the local publishers a per-copy fee for their services, as much as 50 cents for a bulky Sunday edition. In Colorado, the delivery job is handled by the Denver Post. "The more you can spread your fixed costs across more businesses," Post publisher Ryan McKibben told Fortune, "the better off you're going to be."

However the Post fares in the arrangement, faithful Times readers across the state are guaranteed to come out ahead. Among those particularly pleased by the expanded circulation: Times Rocky Mountain Bureau chief James Brooke, who lives in the foothills. "It's nice to be read in your town. I wasn't in Brazil," he says, referring to an earlier posting. "It keeps a correspondent honest to be read by the people you're writing about." And it doesn't hurt to be able to give the dailies some competition--Brooke has broken a few national stories in their backyard, including nabbing an interview with one of Marshall Applewhite's first followers, now living in Littleton. And then, of course, there's JonBenet Ramsey, the Oklahoma City bombing trial, the A-10. "Denver's increasingly a national story," he says.

The national readership now accounts for about half the Times's million-plus circulation, and it's growing fast. "I'm convinced that we can double our circulation this year," Brooke says of this region.

Read it and weep, Denver dailies.

Making book: Want to guess how many copies of Denver International Airport: Lessons Learned have been ordered (at $44.95 each) by Wellington Webb's office?

First, some clues: One of the three authors of the new McGraw-Hill tome is Paul Dempsey, University of Denver transportation law professor, Frontier Airlines boardmember and, in a not entirely unrelated development, nemesis of United Airlines--DIA's largest tenant. (His co-authors are DU colleagues Andy Goetz and Joe Szyliowicz.) Second, the 500-plus page epic is as chilling as any Stephen King novel--except this is a true story.

The answer: So far, the mayor's office hasn't seen the book. So here's a preview of the authors' assessment of how Denver managed to build a $5.3 billion airport, when so many other cities have failed to push through similar boondoggles--er, endeavors. Airport director Jim DeLong offers six reasons: a visionary mayor (Federico Pena, not DeLong's current employer), strong federal governmental support, sufficient undeveloped land, an entrepreneurial spirit, a poor economy (the authors note that "it is difficult to be antigrowth when the people's wallets are empty"), and the fact that "the airlines couldn't derail it." Ed Marston, publisher of the High Country News, weighs in with three more factors: an ineffective press (Westword and Gene Amole excluded), inadequate federal oversight and an unorganized and unprotected public interest. Mike Boyd, the airport's most outspoken--and quotable--critic, tosses in a tenth: greed. In summary, the authors list three factors--growth impetus, willing politicians and favorable external circumstances--as the "essence of how and why DIA was built. Whether it was for better or worse is more difficult to say. The most impressive accomplishment of the Denver International Airport project was that a new airport was built at all."

Logos to go: Bad enough that the new Public Service Company of Colorado logo--billed as a "symbol of our attitude"--looks like the same old Safeway logo. (That "burning of the midnight oil" referred to in an introductory ad apparently doesn't extend to the designer.) Now the Denver Summit of the Eight has gotten into the swoosh act, too. What, has Nike signed them all?

 
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