It’s 7:54 in the morning when Jesse Paul swipes his employee badge across a key-card lock outside the Denver Post’s eighth-floor office and swings open the glass door.
“The gunslinger arrives!” reporter Kirk Mitchell hollers to Paul, one of the newspaper’s youngest and most prolific writers. Paul smiles and adjusts the leather satchel hanging off his shoulder. He’s wearing a blue-and-white checkered shirt, which is tucked into black Banana Republic chinos and cinched with a brown thrift-store belt embossed with “COLORADO” on the back. His dark hair is cut short, and his trimmed beard makes him look older than his 24 years, but just barely. He passes a series of newly vacated desks—the aftermath of buyouts and layoffs that eliminated nearly a fifth of the newsroom this summer—before reaching his own messy island piled with months-old newspapers. Nearby, a small notecard reads: “The Time For a Raise is NOW!” Paul sets his bag on the floor next to his chair and takes a quick glance through the dim, nearly empty newsroom.