A Post Reporter's Jerry Maguire Moment

Denver Post reporter John Moore pens a media manifesto – and soon regrets it.

Even so, any attentive subscriber has noticed that the Post and the Rocky have lost pages over the past few years, not to mention writers, editors, web specialists and support personnel — and many vacant positions haven't been filled for budgetary reasons. To make matters worse, subscription prices keep edging upward. Nolan stresses that rates fluctuate due to a passel of variables — and he says "the average price of a subscription to the Post and the News is still far below what newspaper subscribers pay in comparable-size cities." But the bottom line remains. In 2005, I paid $147 for home delivery of both newspapers over the course of a year. In 2007, I paid just over $170 — and I'm getting less for it.

The opposite's true of the Post's website, especially in comparison to its paper equivalent. The February 1 remodeling of the entertainment section spelled the end for the usual listings, including those pertaining to theater productions and auditions. On top of that, Moore's weekly Sunday theater column is going biweekly; the Sunday "Critic's Choice" snippet and the "3 More" feature, which gave him room to blurb about other shows opening over the weekend, are out; and half his print review slots may vanish. But online, he's created a rotating slide show highlighting production photos from every live theatrical production in the state at any given time, a popular weekly podcast, and a script-sampling service. "If anybody in the state is doing a new play no one's heard of, people can click and get a ten-page sample of the script," he says. "It gives them an idea if it's something they'd like — because a title alone isn't going to get them to buy a ticket." Plus, Moore is running expanded versions of critiques on the site "since there is unlimited room and print space is finite."

Unfortunately, the quality of this presentation may cause the sort of negative repercussions he discusses in his "Straight Talk" salvo. "The notion goes: Why pay $90 or more a year for a print paper when you can get all of it — and more — online for free?" he wrote. "As much as that breaks my heart, it's a logical argument, and what a Catch-22 for me: Ever since newspapers went online, we've been training people to believe that information-gathering is free, and it's not. We have only ourselves to blame for making access to our website free for as long as we have."

Such opinions are far from unique among journalists, but few dare utter them in public. For many, they are The Things We Think and Do Not Say, and Moore wishes he hadn't. Even though he's received no punishment thus far for expressing himself on these topics — which makes sense given his value to the paper and the community at large — he wishes he'd kept his big yap shut, figuratively speaking.

"I didn't mean to start anything like this," he allows. "I should stick to writing about Shaw and Shakespeare. Lesson learned. Damage...yet to be assessed..."

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