Randy Miller's connection to the end of one newspaper, rebirth of another

Over the weekend, the Denver Post ran separate stories about the impending closure of The Silver and Gold Record, a newspaper that covers the University of Colorado at Boulder faculty, and the conversion of the Silverton Standard & the Miner to non-profit status. However, there's far less than six degrees of separation between both articles and Randy Miller, former owner of the Colorado Daily.

"Paper Trail," an April 2001 Westword feature, was published shortly after Miller bought the Daily and offers an abbreviated history of the paper. In 1892, the official CU publication that became the Daily debuted as The Silver and Gold, but the handle was dumped in 1953, reported because student journalists "made their product sound as if it specialized in mining news." But CU administrators resurrected the moniker in 1970, right around the time they voted to cut the Daily's funding for mainly political reasons -- among them, the editorial page's open opposition to the Vietnam war. Shortly thereafter, the Daily dropped its affiliation with CU, although its underground character drained away over succeeding decades. The present Daily, owned by a company affiliated with MediaNews Group, publisher of the Denver Post, bears virtually no resemblance to its feisty forebearer, or even the brawnier paper Miller sold to E.W. Scripps several years ago.

The Silver & Gold Record was much easier for CU to control, being in the hands of staffers, not students. Meanwhile, students got to express their views, and report about events from their perspective, in the Campus Press, a newspaper that went online only earlier this decade due to budgetary pressures. The publication subsequently became an object of controversy over the publication of a satirical essay by student Max Karson entitled "If It's War the Asians Want..." Last year, in an echo of the Daily's 1970 experiences, the Press began the process of declaring its independence -- a move exemplified by another name change. It's now CUIndependent.com.

The aforementioned Post report is a bit unclear about what the Silver & Gold Record really was -- essentially a promotional arm of the university, as opposed to a newspaper objectively reporting about events there. Nevertheless, the end of the paper, which should take place within weeks, will result in a number of job losses at a time when journalism gigs are mighty tough to come by. Read the Silver & Gold Record's coverage of the decision to pull the plug by clicking here.

The Miller connection to the alteration of the Silverton weekly is more obvious. His Thirteenth Street Media owned it, but decided to donate the paper to the San Juan County Historical Society rather than shut it down. This move may have financial advantages for Miller, but he still deserves congratulations for making this choice. Thanks to his gift, members of the historical society will have the opportunity to keep the pub afloat, at least for now. The experiment may not work over the long haul -- but trying it is far preferable to raising the white flag, like so many other publishers in Miller's place would have done.

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