Even attorney Dani Newsum doesn't know precisely how long she's been affiliated with Channel 12. She's pretty sure she started working at the station as a volunteer in 1989, then served in a series of mostly behind-the-scenes roles prior to becoming a regular panelist on Colorado Inside Out, a weekly current-affairs program, in 1994. Now, however, everything's changing. She's slated to make her final CIO appearance during the July 24 broadcast -- and the prospect of saying farewell to a program that's played such a big part in her life is making her emotional. "I don't see how I'm not going to cry," she concedes.
Why the departure? "I have not been fired!" she emphasizes. Instead, she's accepted a new job that makes her participation problematic.
Starting on July 28, Newsum will take on the role of education and outreach manager for the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization she's long admired. According to her, she's been charged with "doing outreach, particularly to young people in university chapters and in high schools -- educating folks about the mission of the ACLU." However, Newsum will not be serving as an ACLU spokesperson; those roles will continue to be played by Cathy Hazouri and Mark Silverstein. As such, "the organization doesn't want the public to think that my views -- the views I've been lucky enough to be able to express on Channel 12 all these years -- are the views of the ACLU," she says. And since she laughingly admits to being "an opinionated person," she decided to step away from Channel 12.
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Granted, this isn't the first time Newsum has taken a hiatus. She was absent from the air between approximately 2000 and 2002, when she served as media director for the state senate Democrats and the area Democratic party -- a gig that presented a different kind of conflict. And in 2003, her relationship with Channel 12 was strained following her dismissal from Head On, a series of mini-debates she'd conducted with John Andrews, then the president of the Colorado Senate. Newsum didn't know that Andrews, who gave her the boot after being upset by comments she made in a private e-mail, owned the show, and she questioned the propriety of his deal with Channel 12 in "Public Row," a June 2003 Message column. "I certainly was angry with management," she says now. "I'm not going to try to sugarcoat it. But we worked through that."
Regarding Colorado Inside Out, she has nothing but positive things to say about the crew that puts it together, as well as current host Raj Chohan and panelists such as Westword editor Patricia Calhoun. "Maybe it goes too far to say it’s like a second family," she says. "But it's a place where I've always felt welcome, and that's put up with me. We can fight, we can disagree, and still not hire hit men to take care of each other after the show. Ultimately, we all get along. There's a bond, and make no bones about it -- I'm going to miss that."
Colorado Inside Out airs at 8 p.m. on the 24th. -- Michael Roberts