The Message

Public Row

As it turns out, the Westword item didn't mention Rosenberg by name, and it paraphrased Moore as saying the manure line "'had nothing to do with' the ACE, or anyone in particular. Instead, it was simply [Moore's] way of stressing that 'change is part of this process.'" To Rosenberg's attorney, Julie Trent, this distinction doesn't undermine the suit, because those at the meeting knew who was the target of the comment, causing the news to spread quickly through the journalism community. For instance, Rosenberg says that when he spoke on the telephone with Rocky Mountain News managing editor Deb Goeken in the wake of the meeting, she told him, "We all feel so bad for what happened to you."

Trent adds that when Moore was asked by E&P about likening some staffers to manure, he replied, "I probably shouldn't have said it." In her view, this shows that Moore had changed his story since speaking with Westword.

Fortunately, Rosenberg found a new home at the Sun-Sentinel. Yet he can't simply shrug off the months of unpleasantness that preceded his hiring. An Ohio native, Rosenberg served in various reporting and editing functions at several newspapers and magazines before hooking up with the Akron Beacon Journal in the early '90s. When Beacon Journal managing editor Glenn Guzzo was named Post editor in 1999, he had positions to fill, and before long, Rosenberg was chosen to oversee suburban coverage.

Guzzo departed in 2002, with Moore taking his place in June of that year. Rosenberg says he and Moore had a private chat shortly thereafter during which the editor expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of reporting coming out of the suburbs. Attempts to improve things apparently didn't change his view enough. On October 21, Moore let Rosenberg go -- and a week later, the manure hit the fan.

The suit hasn't gotten far; Trent says Post lawyers initially agreed to mediation but then changed their minds and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint that has not yet been ruled upon. Rosenberg hopes things get moving soon.

"Is it cockiness on his part that he thinks he can say what he pleases and kick somebody like that when they're down?" Rosenberg asks. "That's not right -- and I think a judge or a jury needs to hear him up on the stand repeat that comment and see what they think."

Job search: Denver Post editorials aren't signed, so readers can't tell who writes particular items. As such, they didn't know that three pieces published over the span of a week were penned by James Shelledy, who recently stepped down under pressure as editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, a paper owned by MediaNews Group, the Dean Singleton-headed parent company of the Post.

Shelledy left the Tribune in early May amid one of the messiest controversies in the paper's long history. The previous month, he learned that two Tribune reporters, Kevin Cantera and Michael Vigh, had been paid $10,000 each by the National Enquirer for providing information about Elizabeth Smart nine days after the Utah girl was allegedly kidnapped last year by a pair of drifters; as anyone with cable television knows, Smart was found in March 2003 and returned safely to her family. Cantera and Vigh offered their resignations, but Shelledy put them on probation instead and wrote a column about their lapse in judgment. Predictably, these moves didn't quell criticism. The two reporters were eventually axed, and after Singleton was quoted in the Tribune saying that learning about the entire debacle made him "feel like I was going to vomit," Shelledy tendered his resignation, ending a twelve-year stint as editor.

What, then, was Shelledy doing at the Post? "Essentially, he's applying for numerous positions," Singleton says, adding that Shelledy is well acquainted with Sue O'Brien, the Post's editorial-page editor. According to O'Brien, Shelledy visited on May 22, when the editorial department was shorthanded. While there, he produced editorials about a Colorado Springs speech by ex-CIA director James Woolsey, a CIA review of intelligence reports in Iraq, and the diet theories of the late Dr. Robert Atkins not as a tryout, but simply as a way of being helpful. All three items appeared in the Post over the days that followed.

Singleton says these efforts shouldn't be interpreted as proof that Shelledy is being groomed for a spot at the Post -- but he has nice things to say about a man whose actions had so recently failed to settle his stomach. In his words, "I think he's a very good journalist, very solid."

Interpret that as you will.

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