The Denver Dailies Score a Double With Colorado Rockies Covers

More than half a decade since the business operations of the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post merged as part of a joint-operating agreement, plenty of folks still haven't quite grasped that the papers' editorial departments remain separate and independent -- and covers like the ones found on their October 15 editions only add to the confusion.

It's not that the Colorado Rockies were undeserving of page-one treatment -- a topic touched upon in the October 11 Message column. Winning game three of the National League Championship Series over the Arizona Diamondbacks made the team a natural for this slot. However, the cover photos of catcher Yorvit Torrealba celebrating a home run that provided the margin of victory seem to be identical, even though they're credited to different shutterbugs: Andy Cross at the Post, Chris Schneider at the Rocky.

Are the shots the same? My guess is no: The backgrounds looks slightly different to me, as does the lighting on Torrealba and the angle of his head. To find out for certain, I've e-mailed Rocky photo editor Janet Reeves and Post assistant managing editor/photography Tim Rasmussen, and I'll update this item upon receiving a response from either or both of them. But even if, as I suspect, the extraordinary similarity of the images is simply a bizarre coincidence, the incident illustrates why so many readers suspect that the dailies are in cahoots when it comes to coverage as well as cash. -- Michael Roberts

Update, 10:25 a.m., October 15:

In an e-mail, the Post's Tim Rasmussen confirmed my suspicions about the Torrealba photos. "Chris and Andy were sitting in the same photo well," he writes, "and from time to time I've seen near exact moments captured by different photographers, especially on a round the base thing like that image." Rasmussen adds that he did a "quick check" of the work turned in by other photographers who were assigned to cover the Rockies-Diamondbacks game and came across the accompanying shot captured by the Associated Press' David Phillips, which bears a striking resemblance to the other two:

In my initial e-mail to Rasmussen, I also asked if, in his opinion, circumstances like this one explain why some locals continue to incorrectly believe that the newsrooms at the Post and the Rocky operate jointly whether anyone admits it or not. No reply on that one. -- Roberts

Update number two, 1:25 p.m., October 15:

Just received a phone call from Janet Reeves at the Rocky. I was conducting another interview, so I was unable to speak with her directly. However, she left all the pertinent information on my voicemail.

"I think you should take a closer look at those two pictures," she began. "They are the same moment, but they're very different perspectives. Our picture was originally shot horizontally -- we squared it off. But you can see the light behind his hand, whereas the Post doesn't have one. Torrealba in our photograph is looking more toward the camera, where in the Post he's looking away."

After that, Reeves does a little speaking down to yours truly -- but she also provides some interesting details.

"I'm not sure if you've ever been to a ball game and noticed where the press sit along first and third base," she ventured. "And for the playoffs, they're also up above. But there are lines of photographers from all the wire services and different things, and they're all sitting next to each other. The Post and the Rocky, because we're competitors, they always sit us next to each other, so that one doesn't have more of an advantage over the other." As a result, she acknowledges, "A lot of good photographers got this picture. There's a slight variance, but they may look the same to you, and they may look the same to the readers -- and it's unfortunate if it confuses them even more. But we pick different pictures, and in this case, it was the right moment to choose. It was very exciting, and that's why the editors back at the papers chose to put it on their display." -- 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