Pressing engagements: The Rocky Mountain News's decision to cut back its circulation area--and so its circulation numbers--and concentrate on metro Denver would have been more impressive had the January 3 edition carrying the news arrived at our downtown doorstep before 7:30 a.m. By then, of course, the story was already all over the Denver Post, which ran a straightforward front-page article with a minimum of self-congratulatory hype. (The chest-thumping came later in the week, in We're Number One columns by publisher Ryan McKibben, Chuck Green and Bob Ewegen; Mallard Fillmore has yet to weigh in.) The News's story, tucked away on page 33A of the business section, downplayed the significance of the move, depicting the 48-county surrender as a business strategy that will let the tabloid focus on the Front Range and all those affluent advertising accounts. Who needs La Junta, anyway?

Read side by side, the same day's News and Post pieces provided a compelling argument for why it's important to have two competing dailies in a town. (Unlike the situation in, say, Houston, where Post owner Dean Singleton closed the Houston Post last year.)

The differing interpretations spilled over into TV news, too. Channel 7 was restrained in its reporting of the News's new focus--but then, the station is linked promotionally with the tabloid (and even features the next day's cover stories on its ten o'clock news). Channel 9's Wednesday morning newscast was more detailed--that station, of course, is officially partnered with the Denver Post.

One Channel 9 link the station would do well to cut: its endless hyping of the prime-time NBC lineup. Last Thursday's ten o'clock newscast wasted valuable minutes on a canned piece featuring a Southern military man who talked about how he sometimes gets confused with Anthony Edwards of ER--which just happened to have aired on Channel 9 in the preceding hour. Is there a ratings doctor in the house?

A national spot with a lot more local interest--even if it is an advertisement--is the new commercial for Alpha Hydrox that shows several familiar faces talking about what the skin-care product has done for those faces. The women are members of the Book Babes--called only a "Denver book club" in the ad--who've been meeting for over a decade, usually to discuss more high-minded matters than wrinkles (or the lack thereof). The campaign is the brainchild of Book Babe and ad whiz Betty Londergan, who enlisted the group in the project; among those getting national face time is PR pro Alice Sperling, who says old friends from across the country are calling. Beats sending out Christmas cards--especially since the commercial aired during the Notre Dame game.

Don't fence me in: When federal workers returned to their downtown Denver offices this week, they found something new waiting for them--a security gate and fence that separate courthouse workers from the rest of the federal hoi polloi who park in the underground facility below Stout.

But according to the feds, the new security system doesn't mean that the Oklahoma bombing trial is coming to Denver (Judge Richard Matsch is supposed to rule on motions for a change of venue this month). Instead, it's a plan they say has been in the works for over a year, to provide more security for the "court family" and the transport of prisoners.


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