The Web Revolt

A Boulder land grab grabs lots of attention.

And for that, she owes a debt to her Internet friends.

Column shifts: Denver Post readers were prepared to welcome a new columnist following the October departure of veteran Diane Carman. However, few expected to get the two-for-one deal announced on December 6. The paper revealed that David Harsanyi, up until then the only survivor from a four-person roster that once co-starred Carman, Jim Spencer and Cindy Rodriguez, would be moving to the op-ed pages, with reporters Susan Greene and William Porter winning the sweepstakes to fill the metro-columnist gaps. Their columns are slated to debut the week of December 16, with Harsanyi showing up in his new space at around the same time.

Harsanyi didn't request the transfer. "It was Greg's idea," he says, referring to Post editor Greg Moore, "but I was happy to accept it. I think the op-ed page is a more natural fit for me, especially since they're recasting the metro columnists as something more traditional."

Mark Andresen

Customarily, metro columnists are contrarians, not ideologues, but the position evolved differently at the Post in recent years. Although Spencer and Rodriguez, whom Moore anointed, provided balance in terms of gender and ethnicity, they both wrote from a progressive perspective that mirrored Carman's, turning the columnist slots into something of an echo chamber. Harsanyi, a scribe with conservative/libertarian leanings, was brought aboard in 2004 to add a splash of difference, making him the equivalent of an affirmative-action hire. But rather than looking for a new liberal to counter Harsanyi, Moore placed him in the op-ed arena and tabbed Greene and Porter, who hope to avoid right-left stereotypes.

"I'm not looking for a soapbox," Greene says. "I really want to continue reporting, but just in a different way." She considers herself to be a progressive on some issues and a civil libertarian on others, with a splash of cynicism thrown in for good measure. Nevertheless, she wants her writing to go where her reporting takes her — and she's eager to venture into areas for which hard-news reporting didn't provide an outlet. "I'm not sure people I talk to all the time in my political-reporter role know that I'm a mom with two little kids," she notes. "And there are things I think about as a mom that I was never able to explore as a journalist before."

For his part, Porter stresses that "I'm not doing this column to flog any ideology.... I told Greg that I wasn't interested in writing about politics and policy, per se, except as how they might be filtered through a person who's the subject of a story." In his view, "Honorable people come from across the political spectrum, and so do idiots."

The trick is telling one from the other.

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