Is this yellow journalism or failure to be a real journalist?

Posted on: May 5, 2011

The other night a local channel in Denver ran an investigative report about “Tax Dollars Subsidize Troopers’ Off-Duty Work” segment.  With a headline like that you would think that State Troopers were double-dipping for security work and their normal job as a state trooper.

Actually this report was all about the “Alive at 25” driver safety program run by the Colorado State Patrol Family Foundation. John Ferrugia was the investigative reporter who asked why is this, the only such program that is subsidized by your tax dollars.

Well, Mr. Ferrugia if you did your homework you would find that the “Alive at 25” program is managed through a joint partnership between the National Safety Council, the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado State
Patrol Family Foundation.
I don’t see any subsidized tax dollars here, do you?

I guess when you also interview Mark Stolberg, owner of MasterDrive a driving school as well as president of the Driver’s Education Association of Colorado, you tend to slant your report towards driving schools instead of what the real purpose of “Alive at 25” is all about.

If you would have done your investigation completely, you would find on the home page of Alive at 25, the purpose of this program. “The primary purpose and mission of the CSPFF has been to support the surviving family members of fallen Colorado State Patrol Troopers. The CSPFF Board of Trustees broadened its mission and purpose to include the management of numerous safe-diving efforts and to promote public awareness of the needless tragedies that plague young drivers and passengers.

In partnership with the Colorado State Patrol, a trooper assigned to the Public Affairs Section at Headquarters heads up our training effort and curriculum management by filling the role of Training Manager. All of our defensive driving courses’ management is overseen by the Alive at 25 Coordinating Committee. This committee, 25CCOM, is comprised of the Chief of
the Colorado State Patrol, two law enforcement executives not of the Colorado State Patrol, the sitting President and Executive Director of the Colorado State Patrol Family Foundation.”

Alive at 25 is not a driver’s education course; it is a supplement to a driver’s education course. As for Troopers teaching the course, if you would have asked Col. James Wolfinbarger, the head of the Colorado State Patrol, how the troopers work this program and given him a chance to explain it on camera, you would find that the troopers who work this program take the
course when they are not working and teach the course when they are not working. All troopers are salaried employees so if you Mr. Ferrugia were being paid to teach a course on your day off, would you be using your company’s money for this? I don’t think so.

So your question remains: why is the State Patrol and Colorado taxpayers subsidizing one 4-hour classroom program run by the CSP Family Foundation over all others? The answer is that they are not subsidizing the program – there is a cost for each attendee to this program. Tuition: $79 + Department of Revenue Surcharge Fee (if applicable) or Discounted Tuition: $39 — only for students taking class to obtain a driving permit. Please note this class only allows them to obtain a driving permit.

I believe the real reason for this “investigative report” was sour grapes from the Driver’s Education Association of Colorado. Maybe they are the ones who want a piece of the pie from this program. Mr. Ferrugia please do your homework before you jump into an investigative report with only one side of the story and not both sides of the story. This is called “yellow


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