At one Colorado newspaper, Typo the cat Tweets, while a small staff struggles to cover 3,000 square miles
Thursday, July 6
5:50 p.m., Glenwood Springs Colorado
If you’ve ever seen the TV show Everwood, that’s what I walked into July when I visited the Glenwood Springs (Colorado) Post-Independent. A beautiful — picturesque even — resort town known for its springs, it could easily be the centerpiece for its own TV show.
The Post Independent is home to Typo the cat, who mostly sleeps when she’s not answering fans on Twitter @newsroomcat. I even managed to get a quick video of her in her natural newsroom habitat while she took a break from serving as assistant photo editor.
“She allows us to work in her house,” Features Editor Carla Jean Whitley told me. “She is mostly OK with it, but sometimes she gets tired of us and goes up to the lofts to rest.”
While Typo napped, Whitley (a former student of mine) and I discussed challenges the Post Independent faces.
With an unusual media landscape, because there is no TV station in the county, Whitley and a staff of about six people struggle to cover the area, but strive for community journalism at its best. (This reminded me of America’s Growing News Deserts, a project by the Columbia Journalism Review.) Whitley pointed out that much of the coverage area is rural, which presents some challenges. She estimated 55,000 residents in Garfield county, which is almost 3,000 square miles.
“As a reporter, it takes time to get to know the people, the places, the stories that need to be told,” she said. “Geographically that makes getting to know those stories and connecting with people much more challenging. The bulk of our staff is concentrated in the more densely-populated areas, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t stories in those less-populated areas, so it’s a real challenge to develop relationships, to get out there.”
Like many states where marijuana is legal, the paper covers it as a business. As someone from a state where it’s not (Alabama) it was worth noting to me, that in addition to crime, weather and obituaries, the PI includes marijuana coverage as its own entity. This was true in several Western states I traveled through on my journey to chronicle American journalism in 2017.
Whitley and I discussed diversity in newsrooms (which I asked about at almost every stop I made during my cross-country trip). I found her answer, as well as her willingness to embrace new things to serve readers, interesting.
Footnote: When I visited the Post Independent I chatted with News Editor Charlie Wertheim. I was thrilled to meet Wertheim, because many papers the size of the PI do not have a copy desk, but he serves as copy editor and keeper of all things Associated Press Style. I couldn’t forget Rio, his dog, who recently passed away.
Next up in the #followmylede series, KNSO-FM in El Jebel, Colorado.