"Trashing the Truth," a 2007 series by Miles Moffeit and Susan Greene about DNA evidence, remains the finest piece of journalism by the Denver Post over the past decade -- a controversial but deserved Pulitzer Prize finalist. Three years later, however, neither writer works for the paper: Moffeit was asked to leave the Post early after talking with Westword about a new gig, while Greene resigned this week after being told her column would be canceled.
In December 2007, a few months after the publication of "Trashing the Truth," which focused in part on Fort Collins' Tim Masters, who'd been improperly convicted of murder and was subsequently freed, Greene was made a columnist in amid a big shakeup in this specialty at the Post. The paper had previously employed four columnists: Diane Carman, David Harsanyi, Jim Spencer and Cindy Rodriguez. But at the time Greene and fellow scribe William Porter were appointed, only one of that quartet -- Harsanyi, who transferred to the opinion page -- remained on the staff.
The situation shifted again after the closure of the Rocky Mountain News in February 2009. After the Post picked up three high-profile Rocky columnists -- Mike Littwin, Bill Johnson and Tina Griego -- Porter was reassigned to the features department, leaving only Greene to continue as before.
That was great news for her. "I loved it," she says about writing a column. "I loved writing about my own city, my own state, in my own voice. It was a real privilege."
She's particularly proud of recent pieces focusing on Tyler Sanchez, who she describes as "a mentally disabled young man who's being prosecuted by [18th Judicial District DA] Carol Chambers for a sex assault, even though the DNA clears him and the so-called confession in that case looks very questionable." Also close to her is the story of Marvin Booker, a man whose July death in Denver jail continues to stir controversy.
She'd been looking forward to following these incidents and others -- but she was recently told by management that due to what she calls "reorganization," her column would be discontinued at year's end. At that point, she was asked to write features, as Porter had been more than a year earlier -- a move that would leave only former Rocky employees as metro columnists. But, she says, "that's not what I wanted to be doing right now," and she reluctantly chose to resign instead.
When contacted about Greene's departure, Post editor Greg Moore confirmed that the Post is not looking for a new columnist but otherwise declined to comment beyond a memo he sent to staffers on Monday. It reads:
After 12 years at The Denver Post, Susan Greene has left the paper. We wish her well.
In her time here she covered city hall, wrote about politics, worked on a project that was a Pulitzer finalist and for nearly three years was a columnist.
We were in discussions about a new assignment when she decided to pursue other interests.
Susan is a passionate and tough journalist determined the give voice to the little guy and we appreciate her contributions to The Post.
Her resignation is effective immediately.
Moffeit's exit from the Post came earlier this year, when he accepted a position in the Dallas Morning News' investigative unit. In a Friday conversation shortly after he'd given his two-week notice, he told Westword that he'd weighed the recent reemergence from bankruptcy of Post owner MediaNews Group before deciding to head south. In his words, "I feel like it's wise to get to a newspaper that has no debt."
The following Monday, Moffeit was asked to clean out his desk and leave within hours rather than finish his two weeks. In a statement to Westword, Moore explained, "I felt it was better we part company right away. I felt some of his comments to Westword and their implications were untrue and injurious to The Post and it was better he just begin the next chapter of his career. I am grateful to Miles for all the good work he did here and wish him well in Dallas."
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As for Greene, she has nothing but positive things to say about her Post colleagues, and she's very matter-of-fact about bidding farewell to the paper.
"Sometimes you leave your job, and sometimes your job leaves you," she allows. "My job left me."
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Tim Masters's settlement from Fort Collins over improper murder conviction: $5.9 million."