For the past eight years, Miles Moffeit has been one of the most consistently outstanding reporters for the Denver Post. "Trashing the Truth," a series co-written with now-columnist Susan Greene that documents the failure of law enforcement agencies in regard to DNA evidence, and related stories about Timothy Masters, who was convicted of murder but subsequently freed thanks to DNA, represent high-water marks for the paper over the past decade.
But unfortunately for Post readers, Moffeit is moving on. In a matter of weeks, he'll be joining the investigative unit for the Dallas Morning News.
Moffeit's taking the leap largely because of the opportunity to get back into investigative work full-time. But he concedes that the financial condition of the Morning News as compared to the Denver Post, which just emerged from bankruptcy, was a factor in his decision.
Last year, Moffeit notes, the Morning News "announced that they were seeking to fill five new positions, including adding two people to their investigative team. And after that, I got a call out of the blue. It was the last thing on my mind, getting a call from another newspaper. But they were interested in talking to me."
Following a number of conversations with Morning News reps, Moffeit visited the paper, and he came away impressed by "this amazing commitment they have to investigative journalism. There's more than a dozen people on the team, and their publisher [James Moroney] has given them a mandate to do really difficult stories. It's also a mandate from their readers. They did a survey of their core readership where they said, 'If subscription prices go up, what would you think would be worth paying more for?,' and they responded, 'Investigative journalism.' That was a clarion call for them."
Regarding the Morning News' financial condition, Moffeit maintains that "they've gone through the worst of their layoffs, and they have no debt at all, so it's not a drag on them. They've made a profit the last two quarters. So all of this stuff is converging. It's helping them realize that they can pursue watchdog journalism, which a lot of us believe is the future. It was a perfect fit."
It makes sense that Moffeit would look beyond the job offer to the health of the Morning News, given that he's spent the past couple of years writing about business for the Post. The move from the investigative beat to business was made at his request, and he feels the change was a positive one. But now, he's ready to get back into his previous specialty, especially given the Morning News' fiscal stability. "I feel like it's wise to get to a newspaper that has no debt," he says -- and while the Post's prepackaged bankruptcy plan reduced its indebtedness by well over 50 percent, it didn't remove the burden entirely.
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The Morning News gig represents a homecoming of sorts for Moffeit. "I was a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald when it went down," he points out, adding with a laugh, "It wasn't my fault." From there, he moved to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he was working when he was induced to come to Denver by editor Greg Moore early in his tenure at the Post.
He's grateful for the opportunities Moore has given him, and he looks back with understandable pride on the Masters' stories, in particular. "Just seeing him walk free two years ago was one of the most overwhelming feelings I've ever had," he says. "I just remember crying in my car. And we got some laws changed, too, to better safeguard evidence. So that means a lot."
No doubt Moffeit will continue to do reporting of this caliber. But Coloradans who want to read the results will have to visit a new website.