Greg Moore Resigns as Editor of the Denver Post

Moments ago, Greg Moore, editor of the Denver Post, since 2002, told staffers at a newsroom meeting that he has resigned.

Sources reveal that he will remain on the payroll until April 1, but his last official day at the paper's headquarters building will be this Friday, March 18.

We're told the meeting was announced with little notice, but those who attended immediately knew something important was going on given the presence of cameras, as well as publisher Mac Tully and union head Tony Mulligan.

"All good things must come to an end," Moore told the journalists gathered before him, adding, "I know many people here thought I would only be here for a short while...but here we are, fourteen years later."

Moore stressed that "this is something I chose. It was not imposed on me."

Nonetheless, Moore made note of the many departures from the staff during his years in charge when referring to a staff photo snapped shortly after the Post won a Pulitzer prize for its coverage of the Aurora theater shooting.

"I realized there are more than fifty people in that photo who aren't here anymore," he said.

Before long, Post employees were given the opportunity to ask questions, with one mentioning a rumor that the editor had been ordered to cut thirty additional newsroom jobs before this June. Moore said this wasn't true.

As for his future plans, Moore confirmed that he will stay in Denver, but said, "I don't know what I want to do next."

Lee Ann Colacioppo will serve as interim editor at the Post while a search takes place for Moore's successor; she's said to be a candidate for that position.

During his years at the Post, Moore has been unusually accessible to Westword, speaking openly and forthrightly about subjects pleasant and unpleasant.

The following excerpt from our first piece about Moore, a May 2002 column appropriately headlined "Changing of the Guard," offers background on his career prior to arriving in Denver. It provides perspective on a journalist who enlivened the local media scene — and who we hope will continue to be a part of it.

Moore, for his part, comes across as confident enough to simply let his opinions fly on just about any topic — even the quality of the Post.

"I think there are some really good writers here," he says. "I think our sports coverage is energetic and comprehensive and quite good, and there are places where our photography is strong. But overall, I want us to have a bolder presentation, be less predictable and formulaic. We want to elevate the writing and the quality of ideas; we want to be much more aggressive on local coverage and more dominant in the region."

Moore's hiring has gotten plenty of attention, in large part because he's black — which shouldn't be a big deal but is, thanks to the predominantly pale hue of Colorado's media power structure. On the day he took the job, Moore instantly became the most prominent African-American in the history of Colorado journalism. Opening this door is "a point of pride," [then-publisher Dean] Singleton says, but he emphasizes that race "played absolutely no role whatsoever in my decision to want him in Denver. What's important to me is that he's a born leader who knows how to evaluate talent and knows how to lead it."

Dan Kennedy, longtime media columnist for the Boston Phoenix, a weekly alternative newspaper, underlines this point. "It's not surprising that a lot of people have dwelled on Greg Moore being black, but he's also an editor, and a damned good one. Although being an African-American is important to who he is, it's strictly incidental to the fact that he's a very good editor."

Moore's qualifications appear to be quite strong. Born in Cleveland, he is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University who joined the staff of the Dayton Journal Herald in 1976 before jumping to the Cleveland Plain Dealer four years later. After shifting from reporting to editing, he signed up as assistant metro editor with the [Boston] Globe in 1986. At the time he was named managing editor at the paper, in 1994, he was a regional director of the National Association of Black Journalists. But Matthew Storin, then the Globe's editor, told the NABJ Journal that he would benefit from doing the right thing every bit as much as Moore would: "This is a high-profile job we've given him, and when I announced it, I presumed that some people might wonder if he got the promotion because he's a person of color. I said, 'Sure, in a way he did. If you had someone that good and you could also add to the diversity of your senior staff, you'd be crazy not to promote him.' People understand what I mean, because they know he's that good."

The worst moment of Moore's stint as the Globe's managing editor took place in 1998, when columnist Patricia Smith, whom Moore edited, resigned after it was discovered that a number of her subjects were wholly fabricated. (Smith was one of two Globe scribes to leave the paper under such a cloud. Mike Barnicle, a columnist not edited by Moore, was the other.) Moore couldn't duck the connection with Smith; his name is in the first sentence of a tell-all she wrote for Essence in September 1999. But his career wasn't hurt too badly by this embarrassment because, according to a knowledgeable source, the failure was seen as systemic. Prior to Storin's arrival at the Globe, the source says, columnists received shockingly little oversight, and while Storin improved the process somewhat, dumping a day-to-day editing job in the lap of a managing editor swamped with other responsibilities meant only a small increase in supervision.

Even so, Storin, who left the Globe last year and was recently named associate vice president for news and information at the University of Notre Dame, doesn't entirely absolve Moore of culpability. "Greg would be the first to admit that he had a supervisory role he did not fulfill quite to the degree that he or I would have wanted, in retrospect. But he met his responsibilities when it came time to deal directly with Patricia, and also in terms of recovery. He's very optimistic, very upbeat, and that helped us recover much more quickly."

What lessons did Moore take away from the experience? "I learned not to assume that people understand their craft," he says. "You've got to constantly talk about standards and ethics with people, even veteran people. And I learned that when tough things need to be done and they involve serious ethical violations, there really shouldn't be any second chances."

When Storin stepped down from the Globe, Moore was a candidate to become head man, but he was passed over in favor of Martin Baron, previously executive editor of the Miami Herald. At the time, Moore told the Boston Phoenix that he wanted to run his own shop someday and might possibly have to leave the Globe to do so. After he split, the Globe printed a May 4 article in which Baron declared himself "deeply saddened" by Moore's loss but said that people at the Post were "very lucky" he'd be coming their way.

Storin agrees. "He's got tremendous personal charm and presence," he says. "He's a hard worker, he's got lots of energy, and he throws himself into the job. He'll sometimes work seventy- and eighty-hour weeks. He also spends a lot of time out on the floor talking to reporters, and he's a very good listener."

"Greg is savvy about politics, but also very sensitive about things like pop culture," adds Scott Powers, a former arts editor with the Globe who's now deputy entertainment editor at the Chicago Tribune. "He's up to speed on the latest in hip-hop and a lot of other kinds of music; I once sat next to him at a Garth Brooks concert. And he's very aware of what's on television, which is fairly unusual for a newspaper editor, unless you're talking about CNN. He's gregarious, extremely intelligent and a lot of fun."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts