By: Nu Yang
Denver Post news director Kevin Dale, gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the paper’s hiring of its first marijuana editor, Ricardo Baca.
E&P: How was the decision to hire a marijuana editor conceived?
Dale: The legalization of retail sales of marijuana is a historic event for Denver and the country. We wanted to make sure that we had expertise and resources devoted to the subject as we would with any major development in our region.
Baca previously served as the Post’s entertainment editor and music critic. Why did you decide to go with an internal hire and what were the qualifications during your search?
We were adamant that the editor have a foundation in journalism as we practice it. (Baca) founded and nurtured our independent music website, he understands the community and he understands our values and standards.
How was this position received by other newsroom editors?
As smart. We were covering the lead up in every section of the paper. We needed coordination and someone who would oversee the new website.
What was the editorial intent regarding the subject matter—strictly informative or also entertaining?
Both. We believe that’s our strength: we can provide more journalistic firepower on all aspects of the industry than anyone in our region.
How has this new initiative affected advertising and readership?
It’s too soon to tell, but advertising is being aggressive in courting new businesses. Readership, as in most areas, is mixed. Some think we write too much about the milestone; some love the extra coverage.
Do you see this position expanding to other medical areas, such as prescription drugs?
Not really. We have been covering medical marijuana since it was passed in 2000. We have a fulltime medical writer who covers that community and has generally covered stories around prescription drugs.