Former Post Editor Greg Moore Looks Back And Forward On The News Business

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Photo: Greg Moore, Former Denver Post Edior (KM)
Former Denver Post editor Greg Moore at the CPR studios Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

New challenges await former Denver Post Editor Greg Moore. He stepped down April 1 after 14 years at the head of the paper. The newspaper won four Pulitzers under his leadership, but he also grappled with the downsizing of the news business in general, and in his newsroom. He spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

On when he realized that the journalism industry was changing:

"This little kid, on his phone, was able to tell me a big story before I even knew it, and that's when I just realized that the power had shifted. That the reader, the customer, they had as much access to information as I did. And it really became a matter of how do you present it? How do you do it smartly? But the fact that the news had happened was accessible to anyone... one thing definitely changed, and that was I became a much more customer focused editor. Much more in tune with readers, much more responsive to them because I realized that they had a lot more power. Certainly a lot more power that what I was used to when I started in this business 40 years ago."

On whether the Denver Post will have more layoffs:

"I don't know. I know that the newspaper itself is working very hard to generate new revenue streams, trying to figure out how to create new products that are going to help make money and avoid those type things. But it seems to me that we're still in a period of downsizing and not just here in Denver, but I think all over the country. I don't think that we've hit the bottom yet... I just wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't be surprised [by more buyouts or layoffs] but I don't know for sure."

On whether he accomplished what he wanted to when he took over 14 years ago:

"Beyond my wildest dreams. I think we're a very, very good newspaper, I think we serve our community very well. I was really proud that we had a bench where we had talented people step up when we did have to make layoffs and voluntary reductions. And we did quality work, winning Pulitzer Prizes -- being in contention 9 times overall in the last 10 years. I walk away a very satisfied person."

On whether he saw the Post's creation of The Cannabist as a salve:

"Not really. I felt like legalized marijuana was going to be a game changer. It was going to change the culture, it was going to change the economy, it was going to change policing, it was going to change communities and we wanted to make sure we understood all facets of that business. We made that a paper-wide responsibility, we built the Cannabist -- which is a website -- so that we could have all of that stuff contained in one place, and to be careful not to overwhelm the newspaper with pot news. We were very aware that about half the population -- half our readership -- really did not support legalized marijuana so making that a digital product was a smart move we thought... I think anytime the newsroom can help generate revenue that's a form of protecting the resources that we have. Back in the old days we used to say the advertising department made the money, we spent it, and we used to laugh. Now we don't. We want to be part of the solution and we have been successful in generating revenue from this company."

On the idea that an editor is talking about generating revenue:

"You know what, we've all had to become better business people. It's not enough just to edit stories and things like that. I'm very familiar with numbers, more than I ever thought I would be, but I also think that it's smart that I am."

On whether the closing of the Rocky Mountain News was a scary moment:

"It was. We were in the same building, they were on the floor below us. One day they were there, and literally the next week they were gone. Two-hundred journalists out of work, and from that point on, it made it a lot easier to sort of make the argument that we have to change if we want to survive, and it was really hard to see them go."

On the Post's Pulitzer-winning coverage of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting:

"[Those days were] just chaotic and never-ending. One of the most interesting thing about it was the theater shooting happened at about twelve-thirty in the morning on Friday morning. The paper had already been put to bed, we didn't have another paper until Saturday morning so much of the early reporting of the theater shooting was done online. It was a digital-only operation for us. It was just an incredible experience and the mix of veterans and young people, blogging, tweeting, using social media. It was just an incredible breathtaking thing to see... a lot of people in our newsroom knew people who were either in that theater, who had been shot or who lost their lives and it was just an incredible thing to see people working through their own grief to make sense of this tragedy. It was really a very poignant moment and I have deep, deep respect for the people that were able to push through that and contribute to what turned out to be an outstanding effort."

On whether there will be a paper version of the Denver Post years from now:

"I think in the short term there will be and my guess is that it will become a premium product for people who just absolutely want the experience of holding a newspaper in their hands... it may even be a product that's on demand... but increasingly I'm seeing it as a digital-only operation around the country."