Comparing headlines and the Gazette’s stealth missile

Thu, Feb 25, 2010


Headline on the Gazette’s Web site this morning:

“Tax hikes signed by Ritter.”

Headline on the Denver Post Web site this morning:

“Ritter signs bills to end tax breaks, help balance budget.”

Are we looking at bias here? The Gazette trends right, the Post trends left. Do the headlines mirror the editorial positions of the newspapers?

I doubt it. Both headlines are factual and defensible, if not absolutely even-handed. And ideology has little to do with the craft of headline writing. If you think it’s hard to write a pithy tweet, or to compose a graceful haiku, try summarizing an 800-word story in five to nine words. It’s a delightful craft, one which can only be mastered by long practice. “Hicks nix stix flix” and “Headless body in topless bar” – two examples of reality providing an occasion for genius to meet inspiration.

But for folks who believe that daily newspaper coverage is driven by political agendas, grudge-settling and hidden biases, there’s always evidence of slanted coverage – just as there’s abundant evidence that Denver International Airport is the site of a vast, hidden secret guv’mint project, complete with subterranean tunnels to Cheyenne Mountain.

But it does appear that the Gazette has in fact launched a secret project aimed at uncovering the shenanigans of certain powerful folks in our community.

A couple of months ago, the G assigned a new reporter to cover the County Commission and, it appears, to report upon the antics of a certain Douglas Bruce.

Eileen Welsome has the kind of unthreatening persona that is so valuable to an investigative reporter. She’s quiet, persistent and unrelenting. She’s already written some great pieces about the county, and has so annoyed the commissioners that Gazette editor Jeff Thomas has had to endure a meeting with at least one indignant elected official.

But it seems that neither the Dougster nor our eminent elected officials have bothered to Google Welsome. One commissioner characterized her as “not understanding anything,” and ”asking lots of ignorant questions,” and “filing all these CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) requests.”

But maybe she understands more than the commissioners give her credit for – and maybe her employer is expecting great things from her.

A few years back, Welsome won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting while working as a reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune. The series of stories covered the experience of Americans who were unknowingly research subjects of government radiation experiments, according to the Pulitzer Prize Web site.

To find that the “G” has hired Welsome as a beat reporter is a little surprising. It’s as unlikely as seeing Jeff Beck lay down riffs with the local boys at Southside Johnny’s … but maybe it’s just a sign of the times.

After all, if the music business were as problematic as the newspaper industry, our local garage band would be fronting Clapton, not Beck.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Like it'll matter ..... Says:

    >> Denver International Airport is the site of a vast, hidden secret guv’mint project, complete with subterranean tunnels to Cheyenne Mountain.

    …….. man, you can learn the coolest stuff in the BJ !