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The Exclusivity of Channel 7's Sacha Millstone Report

Sacha Millstone as seen on Channel 7.
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Channel 7's 10 p.m. newscast on August 11 kicked off with what was touted as an exclusive story about Sacha Millstone, a Colorado Democratic delegate and Hillary Clinton supporter. Millstone told investigative reporter John Ferrugia she'd been summoned by the Colorado Democratic Party's political director, William Compton, after she'd told a fellow Dem in a private e-mail that she wasn't sure if she could vote for Barack Obama at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

How does the exclusivity claim hold up? Not badly -- thanks to a little luck.

The next morning, August 12, the Rocky Mountain News ran a Millstone article featuring quotes from the Channel 7 package. Meanwhile, the Denver Post published its own Millstone offering, complete with new statements that must have been provided the previous day -- and that makes sense, since Millstone originally threatened to vote for Clinton and then quit the Democratic Party in a salvo by the paper's Susan Greene printed way back in June.

For that reason, the Post didn't have to give credit to Channel 7, and neither did KHOW's Peter Boyles -- at least not during the portions I heard of his August 12 broadcast, when he read portions of Compton's note to Millstone in a comically exaggerated Boris Badenov voice that sent up the Dems for heavy-handedness of the sort often associated with the Cold War-era KGB.

This was no doubt frustrating for 7News, whose personnel frequently complain about being at a competitive disadvantage because they don't have a partnership agreement with a local television station, as Channel 4 does with the Rocky and Channel 9 maintains with the Post. See this March More Messages column for an example. More recently, Channel 7's Ferrugia wrote a defensive op-ed in the Rocky after Jason Salzman, one of the paper's two media columnists, zinged TV news in general for creating "the illusion of serious journalism" without adding much substance.

In any event, Channel 7's Millstone report wound up looking like an exclusive because the folks at the Post apparently didn't give their Channel 9 buddies a heads-up about it -- and that allowed the station to scoop its broadcast competitors and get a plug in the Channel 4-loving Rocky to boot. It was a fortunate break for these perrenial underdogs. -- Michael Roberts

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