The Message

Pucked Up

No wonder Tom Philand, Altitude's senior vice president of sales and marketing, rues the day hockey stopped. Had the season gone forward as usual, he feels Altitude's cable contract with Comcast would have come together sooner and its viewership numbers would be healthier. "From a ratings perspective, professional games typically do best in the ratings," Philand says.

This fact helps explain why Tim Griggs, Fox Sports Net's vice president and general manager, is so chipper. He believes the stillbirth of the NHL's season thus far "helps us, because it hurts Altitude's ability to become an established network."

In addition, it's given the Post's Dater a chance to write about sports whose players have all their teeth -- or most of them, anyway. He's most appreciated chronicling high school events, because, he says, "When you do a story on a prep kid, you know they're going to keep it in their scrapbook forever. And they really like to talk to you. It's not like pro sports, where they say, ŒI don't know if I have timeŠ'"

Denver Post hockey writer Adrian Dater tries 
to keep sharp during the NHL's hiatus.
Tony Gallagher
Denver Post hockey writer Adrian Dater tries to keep sharp during the NHL's hiatus.

Dater has plenty, and he's taking advantage of it. Nevertheless, he'll be happy if and when the NHL gets going again, if only because his frequent-flyer miles are rapidly dwindling. "I don't have the clout with United Airlines that I used to," he grouses. On top of that, he's getting a little tired of a certain question he keeps being asked: "Do you still have a job?"

Silent treatment: The U.S. military may dislike Iraqi insurgents more than the Denver Post, but not by much. First, as detailed here in recent weeks, an Air Force judge advocate smacked Post scribe Miles Moffeit with a subpoena regarding an article about rape within the armed services. Then, shortly after the paper filed a motion to open a Fort Carson hearing into the murder of an Iraqi general, base muckety-mucks designated Post staffers personae non grata over offerings by Marsha Austin and Eileen Kelley that told about soldiers waiting for proper medical treatment. Instead of disputing the particulars of the pieces, a Fort Carson spokesman quoted by the Post complained that they weren't "fair and balanced" -- an allusion to Fox News's slogans that should entertain Freudians.

The de facto ban didn't last long, thanks to intervention by Post editor Greg Moore, who agreed to meet with Fort Carson reps to hear their grievances. Yet the base's initial maneuver remains troubling, since it's the second instance of late when a government institution or official cut off access to a news organization for reporting things they didn't like. Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich made a similar move against the Baltimore Sun because of alleged inaccuracies he hasn't bothered to recount, and even if his actions aren't illegal, as the Sun implies in a lawsuit, they're certainly counterproductive. "History will reveal -- sometimes in fairly short order -- whether the reporting was fair and balanced or not," Moore writes in an e-mail. "But to infringe on news gathering that way is wholly inappropriate, and should be fought every step of the way."

That's a call to arms.

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