By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Bubby Brister wasn't the only one who got sacked Monday.
The editor of the paper that on Tuesday gave its most prominent play not to the quarterback sneak but to a yawn of a VA hospital story also lost his job.
About time the Post answered its own wake-up call.
Dennis Britton, the man who announced that he wanted to push good news, play down crime and "Pollyanna it up" when he became the editor of the Denver Post almost three and a half years ago, is gone. And not even to "pursue other options," as those dignified announcements of firings usually pronounce. Instead the release from publisher Jerry Grilly's office Tuesday morning regarding Britton's abrupt departure (Britton had been at a newsroom meeting Monday) used the opportunity to tout the Post's circulation gains (matched only by those of the Rocky Mountain News) while insisting "we wish him well."
Britton will be replaced by Glenn Guzzo, managing editor of Akron, Ohio's Beacon Journal since 1993 and proud father of both a Pulitzer Prize project (the Beacon won a public-service Pulitzer in 1994 for its numbers-crunching coverage of race relations, but it's unlikely to do so again now that owner Knight-Ridder is demanding a 27 percent profit from the paper) and two-year-old daughter Scheherazade. No relation, we presume, to that fake Saudi princess, the Ascent bidder whose unveiling has been one of the Post's few recent reporting triumphs -- although a day late and about 460 million dollars short to really scoop the Ascent sale.
It was Britton's bad luck to be playing Pollyanna's "glad game" when the state encountered its biggest news story; the April 20 massacre at Columbine defied any positive spin. But many inside and outside of the Post were surprised that Britton had lasted that long: They'd assumed (and some staffers had prayed) that he would be gone last March, when his three-year contract was up. Still, he managed to hang on for almost six more months, during which the Post continued to slide from a sometime must-read to often barely readable. In fact, during Britton's tenure, frequently the most interesting Post reading was about the Post, on the "Dennis Britton Go Home! Page" (http://members.aol.com/empirvoic/dennispage.html). There assorted and still anonymous malcontents chronicled some of the editor's greatest moments: the John Elway nipple-ring scoop; the fabulous, if nonexistent, national journalism award that almost made Britton page-one news; the bee-keeping hoax that did fool the Colorado Springs Gazette into announcing Britton's premature retirement.
And then, of course, there were all the real stories that embarrassed the Post on a regular basis, topped off by the inane "Snapshots of Colorado" package tour last year, which taught assorted Post execs that if life in rural Colorado is hard, bus seats are harder. This week the reincarnated Snapshots is making its way to assorted communities along the Front Range. But the editor missed the bus.
And so Britton is gone, like many of the talented writers who fled his sticky-fingered, Pollyanna sugar-coated rule. He is survived by Dean Singleton, the Post owner once regarded as a renegade in the newspaper industry but whose continued success (despite certain editors) has elevated him to outright respectability; his wife's seat on the Bill Owens-appointed board of the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities (certainly no longer a conflict of interest, as Britton had told Denver officials when the city offered his wife a similar honor); Chuck Green, the columnist whose early August epic combining the late Gus the Dog with the late Vicki Buckley's pet consultant, Sam Riddle, was spiked but who lives to see yet another Post editor come through the doors; and the popcorn machine in the newsroom, brought in by Britton to elevate morale but which, like so many issues of the paper, simply stunk.
As Britton told a graduating class at the University of Colorado almost two years ago, "We are at a critical juncture in our society. We can't continue to blame 'them' for our problems without recognizing and accepting that 'we' are 'them.'"
Or, as the Post's about-to-be-introduced new slogan asserts, "We are Colorado." Not to be confused with that other ubiquitous refrain: "We are...Columbine."
We may be Colorado -- but Dennis Britton is no longer one of us.
Pass the popcorn.
It comes as no surprise that this city is for sale -- but at least we now have an inflated sense of self-worth. In the early days of what would soon become Greed Acres, the Coors Brewing Company bought naming rights to the town's new Major League ballpark for a paltry $15 million (and all the Coors that Colorado Rockies fans could drink).
But the occupants of Coors Field have learned a few things over the past half-dozen years. Not about baseball, of course, but about real squeeze plays. Last month the owners of the Rockies, perhaps distracted by Jerry McMorris's Nation's Way bankruptcy and nasty feuds with Oren Benton's trustees, refused to chip in a paltry $300,000 to help fund a light-rail spur in lower downtown -- the very part of town that their ballpark has turned into a funplex choking in traffic and chain restaurants.