Update below: The cake seen above — featuring a bit of Photoshopping to partially obscure the message "FUCK ESPN" — isn't actually an attack on the all-powerful sports network
Rather, it's a cheeky goodbye gift to Tim Rasmussen, the assistant managing editor for photography and multimedia at the Denver Post.
Rasmussen is leaving the Post to become ESPN's digital photo editor.
It's a well-deserved gig for Rasmussen, who's helped the Post's photo department become one of the most esteemed in the nation, as witnessed by the paper's 2013 Pulitzer Prize win for its breaking-news coverage of the Aurora theater shooting the previous year.
However, his departure comes at a time of great uncertainty at the paper, whose parent company, Digital First Media, is reportedly on the cusp of being sold to Apollo Global Management, a private equity company.
The goodbye-party-with-cake is a tradition at the Post, with many of the confections featuring funny messages.
For instance, the following cake was served at a get-together bidding farewell to copy editors who left the paper in 2012:
The same kind of humor that informed the misspellings above inspired the "FUCK ESPN" cake.
From the reports we've heard, Rasmussen is well-liked and respected, and his efforts have certain showered the Post with glory.
In addition to the 2013 breaking-news Pulitzer, the Post's photo department won the prize in 2010 and 2012.
Clearly, the Post's loss is ESPN's gain.
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But there's certainly disquiet among other employees at the broadsheet over the prospect of Digital First Media being sold, with most assuming that cutbacks will follow any purchase.
In a piece entitled "What are they thinking? Apollo’s acquisition of Digital First Media," journalism-scene observer Ken Doctor offers these predictions for what will happen after an acquisition:
The DFM that Apollo would inherit, though, is not a stellar business model for the U.S., or Western, newspaper-centric industry. While in some digital-forward areas it may have done better than its peers, in others, it has fared worse. Now Apollo — and the execs it chooses to take over the management reins – must sort through the diverse parts of this odd assemblage of far-flung, metro paper and community paper company, a company I’ve likened more to an odd Dr. Seuss assemblage that a logical enterprise a smart capitalist would put together. Apollo executed deep due diligence, but will still face early decisions on where the bright management lights are to be found within the company and which of DFM’s centralizing technologies should be kept, and which replaced.
Many veterans of the Post who remember the era when a hefty staff battled head-to-head with peers at the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News already feel the paper has been cut to the bone — but it's beyond unlikely that Apollo (or whichever entity ends up with Digital First Media) will accept the status quo. It's risky to buy any old-media company in the current market, and executives will certainly do everything they can to maximize profits.
In the meantime, Rasmussen has definitely landed on his feet — and at least those left behind can eat "FUCK ESPN" cake. Wonder if Woody Paige had a piece....
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Update: After the publication of this item, we received an uncensored photo of the "FUCK ESPN" cake. Here it is: