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Rocky Mountain News' 150th Anniversary Project improves -- but it still has a ways to go

Colonel John M. Chivington, who led the raid known as the Sand Creek Massacre.

In "Rocky Mountain News' 150th Anniversary Project Gets Off to a Stumbling Start," an October 31 blog, I wrote about a new series in which the Rocky looks back on major events during the past century and a half through the lens of its own front-page coverage. A great idea, I thought, but mediocre execution. Only excerpts of vintage pieces were available in print and online, as opposed to the entire articles; the web versions lacked the photos that appeared in the physical edition; and the text edited out elements from the first offering that cast the Rocky in a less-than-flattering light.

Fortunately, the latest entry in the series -- "Dec. 14, 1864: Sand Creek Massacre" -- shows signs of improvement. But not all of the problems have been remedied.

Michael Madigan, who's writing the series, spells out the horror of this episode, and to his credit, he points out that the paper's original coverage exhibited bias all too typical of the era. Better yet, the paper is now attaching PDF scans of the original front pages to the online reports. But reading the articles is a pain even when using the magnification tool. Although supplementing this feature with a transcribed version would be time consuming, it'd also be a service to readers. And the in-print photos still don't appear with the web version of Madigan's submission.

All in all, the Sand Creek Massacre account is better that the series' debut by about 50 percent. Maybe by the end of the celebration, the paper will have gone all the way. -- Michael Roberts

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