Denver Post business columnist Al Lewis recently received an offer he couldn't refuse. The folks at Dow Jones Newswires asked him to write a national column for the service -- an enormous coup given the current state of the newspaper industry. The position allows him to maintain his home base of Denver even as it broadens his horizons considerably. "Suddenly my universe has gone from the state of Colorado and its three and a half million people and its handful of Fortune 500 companies to the entire world," he says.
The man who put this plan into motion was Rick Stine, who has one of the more imposing titles in all of media: Senior Editor of the Americas. "Basically, he manages Dow Jones in this hemisphere, from Buenos Aires through Canada," Lewis notes. Stine "likes my column," he continues, "and we started talking. He wants me to keep doing what I do, only on a national platform and in a national way instead of just focusing on Denver." Lewis will start out penning two columns per week with the idea of working up to three -- his current output with the Post. In his words, "I like the rhythm of writing three columns a week."
Lewis figures to do more traveling than before, with several trips to New York City per annum (including one next month), and other jaunts as necessary. "I always try to write about human drama and how it unfolds in the business arena, and whenever possible, I try to get in the CEO's face -- meet the people I'm writing about," he allows. "So if I'm covering a company in L.A., and when it's practical, I'll go out there." And when it's not? Lewis hasn't decided on new office space in Denver once he abandons his Post desk in the coming weeks, but he doesn't figure to go far. In fact, he says (jokingly, in all likelihood), "I may write from the Starbucks downstairs" in the Denver Newspaper Agency headquarters.
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Were Lewis to disappear entirely from the Post, the broadsheet would suffer considerably as a result. The paper recently folded its business coverage into either the A-section or Denver & the West several days a week; see the last item in the February 7 Message column and this More Messages blog for details. At the time of these earlier articles, Post managers insisted that the amount of business reportage wouldn't diminish as a result of these shifts, but that's a dubious assertion at this point. Indeed, Lewis' pointed, often pugnacious efforts tended to be the best (and sometimes the only) reason to turn to those pages in recent months -- and given the cost-cutting mania at the paper, odds are mighty slim that supervisors will pay for an in-house replacement once he leaves the building.
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Fortunately, negotiations are underway to ensure that Lewis will remain a presence in the Post even after he officially begins his Dow Jones tenure during the first week of July. "The Post and Dow Jones are talking about how this is going to work," Lewis reveals. "It's my hope that my column will continue to run in the Denver Post. It'll just have a different tagline, and when I write about Denver-based companies, it'll have a national edge."
There's no telling if the Post will place Lewis' efforts on the first page of Business, as has been the case for years. Whatever happens, though, "I'll just be happy to be in the Post. If they want to bury the column on page 18B, my readers will find it." In the meantime, he says, "I'm looking for something to write."
He should find plenty now that the planet is his beat. -- Michael Roberts