Rocky Reverses Caucus Ban For Employees

Here it is: Super Tuesday, February 5, when politically active Coloradoans will gather to caucus in greater numbers than ever before. And thanks to an eleventh hour agreement with the Denver Newspaper Guild, Rocky Mountain News employees will be able to join them in a personal rather than professional capacity.

This January 30 More Messages blog includes a memo from Rocky editor/publisher/president John Temple that's hard to misinterpret. "Because caucuses are party activities that involve expressing your political position in public, you should not attend them, unless you’re covering them for the Rocky," he wrote. In the days that followed, the Denver Newspaper Guild raised objections to this dictate, as well as to a less sweeping one issued by Denver Post editor Greg Moore that can be accessed here. "We found that there is a state law that appears to prevent employers from precluding employees from participating in caucuses," Guild representative Tony Mulligan said -- and after some back and forth, the Post's Moore modified his policy in a note published in a February 4 More Messages item. At that time, the Rocky's Temple still hadn't capitulated, but he subsequently did so in a memo that portrays his previous missive as a mere suggestion rather than an order -- spin worthy of any serious presidential candidate.

The latest memo reads as follows:


As you may know, the Guild has filed a grievance and threatened to file an injunction against the News over the memo I sent out about the caucuses. The guild is citing a Colorado law and is contending that the law gives everyone the right to participate in a caucus.

Because neutrality and the absence of the appearance of a conflict in reporting on political events is critical to the credibility of any news organization, my memo was intended to remind employees about the News' ethics policy for journalists. The News did not intend to abridge the rights of its employees; merely to remind everyone of our policy on political activity. To clear up any confusion, if you participate in a caucus, you are doing so in a personal capacity, and cannot hold yourself out during the caucus as an employee of the Rocky Mountain News. Further, if you participate in the caucus, within 48 hours you must notify the newspaper management so it can make future political coverage decisions and protect the integrity of the newspaper.

John Temple

Well done, sir. Give that man a hand. -- Michael Roberts

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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