Brave News World

Feeding the daily dinosaurs.

MacDonald's memo didn't mention this development, either. Instead, it referred DNA employees to the Post and News human resources departments, which would help determine their polling places. And if they couldn't make it to the polls, attached was an application to request an absentee ballot -- "to cast your NO vote prior to May 8," MacDonald reminded. "Remember, as we've seen from the recent presidential election, your vote does count."

Yes, and also remember what the Florida fiasco showed us about obsolete voting systems in this electronic age.

Tuesday's News recognized the inevitable: Its story on the ballot measures referred readers wanting more information to the city's Web site. After all, accessing the Internet is even cheaper than those old penny-a-day paper deals: A free computer is as close as the nearest library.

The Post, however, chose to feed the daily dinosaur. A Tuesday editorial noted that because the paper "could be affected financially (albeit in a minor way)" by Amendment 1B, "we have chosen not to take a formal editorial position. However, the Colorado Press Association, which has no direct financial interest in the issue, strongly opposes Referendum 1B because it would limit public access to important government information."

No financial interest? The Colorado Press Association assesses dues according to its members' size -- and it has no bigger members than the Post and the News. The rest of the CPA's roster consists of smaller dailies and weeklies from around the state; free publications aren't allowed to be members. (Westword is an exception that proves the rule, because we have a second-class mailing permit from the U.S. Postal Service -- which makes us a legal newspaper as far as the federal government is concerned, a legal newspaper as far as the state is concerned and, yes, a legal newspaper as far as the Colorado Press Association is concerned.) While smaller papers far outnumber larger papers in the CPA's 154-member roster, the big boys still call the shots there. Several years back, for example, after Westword won a few prizes in the annual CPA contest, they determined that weeklies with circulations over 100,000 (of which there's exactly one: Westword) would no longer be allowed to compete against dailies with circulations of over 100,000 (a division limited to the News, the Post and, depending on that year's circulation figures, the Gazette in Colorado Springs).

Executive director Ed Otte says the CPA urged the defeat of Amendment 1B because it could have a dangerous "ripple effect" on other municipalities. Fewer people have access to the Web in rural Colorado, he points out; if those towns changed their rules governing legal notices, how would voters get the news?

On the radio, perhaps, or on television or, heaven forbid, even from the free papers that seem to spring up in every community to ensure the truly free flow of information.

Even though the Denver Election Commission made the risky choice to place the required legal notices for this election in the tiny Daily Journal -- its only alternative at the time -- voters got the message and passed Amendment 1B. While there are still plenty of potholes in the information highway, the truth will out.

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