Off Limits

That's rich! Now that the Rocky Mountain News has cut back on its distribution area, it's not as much fun to compare the two dailies' creative-writing efforts that "interpret" the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Not surprisingly, both the News and the Denver Post found something to crow about in the most recent batch, released late last month for the period ending March 31. In a full-page missive, News publisher Larry Strutton noted that his paper had increased its six-county Sunday circulation by 11,008 over the year to "further cement our position as Denver's leading newspaper." On Sunday, Post publisher Ryan McKibben countered with a full-page "Letter to Colorado," noting that circulating to the "entire state" was "both a privilege and an immense responsibility" and then citing such accomplishments as a record Sunday circulation and the purchase of several newspapers in the hinterlands, as well as the paper's charitable contributions to "the many communities we serve." All in all, McKibben's letter had a much more egalitarian tone than the ad that had run two days earlier with the headline "In 19 of the 20 richest zip codes, readers prefer The Post." Although that could help explain why new editor Dennis Britton was so interested in the recent Designer Showcase, it might come as news to the cowboy shown reading the paper in a current Post TV ad.

A table outside the Post's editorial offices sported an unusual accessory last Monday, three days after managing editor Isabel Spencer announced that she was leaving (next stop, the Newark Star-Ledger): a copy of a book titled I Quit. It probably wasn't left there by short-term business editor Jeff Copeland, who got disappeared from the paper the same Friday that Spencer revealed her imminent departure (more imminent, perhaps, than she even thought--her office was cleaned out that weekend). Less subtle was Gil Spencer's Sunday farewell column, which ended with praise for Neil Westergaard, Spencer's hand-picked successor as editor who's now been topped by Britton.

The paper chase: The last issue of the Hooligan--in print, at least--hit the streets with typical brashness, offering a farewell jab at Rocky Mountain News scribe Bill Husted's "bloated mug," as well as this notice to people calling the paper's former office: "For requests regarding advertising, fuck you." (By founder John Reidy's count, that was the 17,001st time the word "fuck" had been printed in the Hooligan--and in just 21 issues total.)

Apparently there just weren't enough of those annoying advertising calls to keep the almost-monthly going in its current form; Hooligan plans to move the publication to the Web this summer. But in one final twist, after the decision was made to go electronic, the paper reportedly got the call of an ad director's dreams: from Philip Morris, which likes to keep those First Amendment rights smoking and which has fewer and fewer places where it can advertise--er, exercise--those rights.

Cruising for a bruising: Sunday's shutdown of Federal Boulevard quickly escalated from gridlock--the only thing that moved more poorly than the traffic on Federal that night were the suitcases used in early automated-baggage-system tests at DIA--into another black eye for Denver in the national press. What local TV dubbed a "near riot" became a "riot" on the Today show's news segment, then a full-blown "race riot" on CNN--even if the only thing about the event justifying the label "riot" was the gear worn by the overloaded Denver police.


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