Plenty of veteran scribes have left the Denver Post during the past year or so -- but the impending departure of columnist Diane Carman, which staffers learned about on the afternoon of October 8, may be the most surprising to date.
Why? Earlier this year, the Post announced a buyout plan aimed at workers age fifty and over, and Carman agreed to take it, only to decide otherwise during a prescribed mind-changing period. In a June 21 Message column, she described her line of thinking in this passage:
"I'm very worried about the industry and the direction it's going, and the atmosphere around newspapers all over the country," she acknowledges. "I thought, if the newspaper business isn't going to be there for all the years I'd like to work and I'm going to have to start another career, why wait?" But in the end, she continues, "I had to go with my heart and not follow my head."
Carman's choice of body part proved costly: By leaving later this month, rather than back in June, she's missing out on a compensation package that would have been the equivalent of a year's salary. Fortunately, though, her new job, at the University of Colorado-Denver, sounds promising.
Here's Post editor Greg Moore's memo describing Carman's future plans, as well as some of his own:Colleagues:
It is my sad duty to share with you that Diane Carman, our marquee columnist for so many years, is leaving to take on her next act in life after a stellar career in journalism. Diane can tell you more about it, but she will be working to convince presidential candidates to take climate issues more seriously through a consortium that works with some of the best minds in science.
Diane has been at The Denver Post since 1989 and has been a respected editor as well as columnist in that time.
Diane brought uncommon passion and compassion to her writing while elevating the art of columnizing. She was as good at politics and policy as she was at human interest. She was a powerful combination of reporter and commentator and she has the awards to prove it. She no doubt will be missed by her colleagues and our readers. Diane is an old and good friend and I am sure you join me in wishing her the best of luck.
We will begin looking immediately for a new Metro columnist. Replacement is too big a task. Anyone on staff who's interested should contact, me, Gary, Chuck or JC.
The conclusion of Moore's note implies that internal candidates will have a leg up on outside competition. After all, the Post is in belt-tightening mode, and it would be significantly cheaper to promote someone already on staff (and either leave the old position open or hire a low-cost newbie to fill it) than to import a big name.
Oh yeah: Jim Spencer, who was laid off from his column position in June as part of the cost-cutting frenzy, is still around, and his views about the issues of the day are quite similar to Carman's. He didn't hide his anger as he walked out the door, but he's currently blogging for the Post on the Gang of Four site detailed in this September 27 Message offering.
Will Spencer's efforts at detente pay dividends? Or will the Post's hiring decisions make him even more bitter toward the broadsheet? The latter's more likely than the former, but stranger things have happened. Like Carman deciding to leave for free mere months after she would have been paid handsomely to go. -- Michael Roberts
Update: The statement above that Carman would have received a year's salary had she taken a buyout earlier this year is incorrect; she would have received a smaller but still significant sum. For the details, see this More Messages correction.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.