Jim Spencer was arguably the biggest name to be handed his head when the Denver Post cut a handful of staffers a few weeks back. As a columnist, his job wasn't protected by the Denver Newspaper Guild-negotiated contract that governs most editorial employees at the broadsheet -- and because the Post had two other metro columnists (including longtimer Diane Carman, whose left-leaning views are in the same ideological ballpark as his), he was considered to be expendable. But Spencer isn't going quietly. He's just launched a new website, SpencerSpeaks.com, and his opening salvo, headlined "New Forum Needs Passion, Not Pouting to Succeed," finds him wrestling with being pink-slipped even as he tries to stride into the future.
In the column, Spencer notes that a reader suggested he change the photo of himself reproduced on this page because he looks "pissed off" in it. To that, Spencer replied, "I am pissed off," and he proves it in several subsequent passages. "Like so many laid-off workers, I did nothing to deserve my walking papers," he writes. "In fact, six months before Post editor Greg Moore canned me, he told participants in a live Internet chat that I was the one columnist in the paper that everyone should read. Then he eliminated my job for financial reasons and told me there was nothing else I could do to help the Post."
Shortly thereafter, Spencer continues, "I found out that the Post was going to give me four free trips to a psychologist to work out any issues I had about being let go. I guess they wanted to make sure I didn't go Denver Postal."
Instead, Spencer is choosing to post columns on his site about any topic "for which I have fire in my belly"; those include "the Iraq war, universal health care, gang alternatives, gun control, racism" and more. He encourages readers to share their thoughts with him, and no doubt plenty of them will. Around the time he put up the "New Forum" piece, he sent out an e-mail to anyone who "expressed interest in the columns I once wrote for the Denver Post," directing them to his present online home.
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Spencer concludes the e-mail with the phrase "let the conversation begin" -- and resists the urge to add the word "again." -- Michael Roberts