by David Kopel
July 29, 2003
Nationwide, many newspapers have been cutting back on outdoors coverage.
Not so in Denver, where the Rocky Mountain Newsand The Denver Postboth cover hunting and fishing with excellent columnists - Ed Dentry in the Newsand Charlie Meyers in the Post.Even if you're not a participant in rod-and-gun sports, both columns offer important insights into the state of Colorado's natural conditions, such as how much last year's drought was harming the fish populations in different regions.
Last year, the Posthad the overall advantage, since Meyers frequently appeared at the top of Page 2 of the Postsports section. On Wednesdays, Meyers often got the whole back page of the sports section to himself, where his column was complemented by his excellent color photography.
Meanwhile, Dentry's Newscolumn tended to run near the very end of the Sports section, near the minor league hockey scores, and his pictures were mostly black-and-white, with not as much room as Meyers got.
This year, however, the Newshas caught up, giving Dentry better placement, and more space for color photography. ThePost,unfortunately, hasn't been running Meyers so often on Page 2 of sports.
As for other outdoor sports, the Newsand the Postboth offer articles detailing good hiking or biking trails, and the Newshas started a new outdoors section on Saturdays. But the best consistent weekday coverage of hiking, biking, ice climbing, snowshoeing, nordic skiing and mountain climbing comes in the Boulder Daily Camera,where the back page of the sports section offers a bevy of equipment reviews, tips for experts and beginners, and other advice.
The business sections of the Newsand the Postboth publish short items about businesspeople getting new jobs, promotions and so on. The feature in the Newsis much more useful than its counterpart in the Postbecause the Newsprovides subheadings - such as "Law" or "Boards" - allowing readers to find fields of interest. The Posthas no subdivisions, and the listings appear to be entirely random, so that the column consists of scores of names cascading in an undifferentiated mass.
Nationally syndicated chess columnist Larry Evans writes good pieces, but as they appear in the Sunday Post,they are terrible. Consider, for example, Evans' April 28 column, which ran in the Postin late June.
Evans analyzed a 1974 letter from Bobby Fischer explaining why Fischer disliked the rules of a proposed 1975 tournament. The full version of Evans' column had many interesting insights about chess rules. As drastically cut by the Postto fit the tiny space available for the column, the Evans article was worthless, consisting of nothing more than ancient complaints with no analysis.
Evans is a difficult columnist for feature editors because his word count varies so widely from one column to the next. But in the truncated versions that appear in the Post,designed to fit the Post'sminuscule Sunday space for chess, Evans' column is nearly worthless. Chess aficionados would be better off reading his full columns at www.worldchessnetwork.com . (Look under the "Chess News" tab.)
The News,meanwhile, offers a wide-ranging albeit diminutive monthly chess column by five-time Denver Chess Champion Todd Bardwick. Here's a challenge for the Post:Follow the News'lead and hire a local chess columnist.
The "Dear Abby" advice column is now written by Jeanne Phillips, Abby's daughter. The Post'stag line for this column discloses the fact; the Newsversion does not.
The advice column as a newspaper institution originated in The Jewish Daily Forwardin 1906, when the great Yiddish newspaper (which later changed to English) began running "A Bintel Brief" ("bundle of letters") to teach Eastern European immigrants how to behave in their new country. That's one reason why a Jewish woman named Pauline Esther Friedman, whose parents were Russian immigrants, adopted the ultra-WASP pen name "Abigail Van Buren," yet titled her column "Dear Abby," as if she were an old-fashioned Jewish mother.
So perhaps it's a long-standing tradition for advice columnists to create multiple layers of public identity. Even so, advice from "Dear Abby" tended to emphasize forthright honesty unless there was a very good reason for misleading someone; so the Newsought to follow the Postand make it clear that "Dear Abby" is no longer written by the original Abby/Abigail/Pauline.
At least the Newsis ahead of some other papers, which still byline the column "Abigail Van Buren," even though it was announced last summer that she is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and is no longer contributing to the column (which Phillips had been co-writing without credit since 1987).