DPS Strike Coverage: Local News at its Best

By Alan Gottlieb

There hadn’t been a teacher strike in Denver in 25 years, so this week’s walkout was a big deal, and received heavy local and national coverage. Locally, it was hard to find a news organization that didn’t cover the story. But three outlets — and in particular three reporters — went above and beyond the call of duty.

As the strike entered its third day on Wednesday, both sides sensed a deal was within reach. Negotiators met in a room of the Denver Central Library, and then split off to caucus elsewhere in the building, leaving supporters and reporters alike to cool their heels for hours at a time with no updates.

For nearly 24 hours, Jenny Brundin of Colorado Public Radio (@CPRBrundin), Melanie Asmar of Chalkbeat (@MelanieAsmar), and Elizabeth Hernandez of The Denver Post (@ehernandez) camped out in that basement room, tweeting every new development, and keeping their sizable core of followers up to date on the progress of negotiations.

There’s a certain beauty in that, isn’t there? Reporters from a public radio station, a major metro daily newspaper, and a digital education news nonprofit — representing three distinct business models for local news — demonstrating true dedication to their craft, and keeping the public well informed. And while traditionally reporters on the same beat tend to be competitive, there was plenty of mutual appreciation among these three — as well as other journalists in Colorado.

The three women clearly bonded over the experience. Just after 8 a.m. Thursday, a “fading fast” Brundin tweeted:




Their dedication wasn’t lost on readers or other journalists. The Colorado Sun and Colorado Independent both tweeted out their appreciation of the trio’s marathon reporting stints — and also called out others’ contributions to coverage. Hernandez retweeted a couple of messages from readers who said they decided to subscribe to the Post because of the quality of her coverage.

Channel 9’s Kyle Clark called attention to the trio in the “Nine Next with Kyle Clark.” (Segment starts at 5:57):

May I make a recommendation: that you seek out and support the journalism of three women that did an exceptional job covering this DPS strike. Now technically they are all our competitors here, but that does not matter to you and I’m hoping you get your news from a wide variety of sources these days. If you’re not reading Elizabeth Hernandez’s work in The Denver Post, you’re missing out. She’s also one of the funniest Twitter follows in town. Explaining labor disputes on the radio is not easy, but Jenny Brundin from Colorado Public Radio made it sound simple during the strike. Elizabeth and Jenny put in long, long hours right alongside Melanie Asmar from Chalkbeat Colorado. Chalkbeat covers education in more depth than anybody else in Colorado. If you want a deep dive, I recommend her work. So please seek out and support Elizabeth, Jenny and Melanie’s writing. We have links on the Next Twitter page.

Local news may face challenges when it comes to financial sustainability. But make no mistake: the “fierce women” who covered the teacher strike are not alone. Colorado is blessed with a strong and dedicated corps of journalists who will some way, somehow, keep reporting the news.

It’s all of our responsibility to support them, and the organizations for which they work.

Here’s how to subscribe, join, donate, etc., to various outlets and support organizations, all of which rely upon your generosity: Aspen Journalism, Chalkbeat, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, Colorado Independent, Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Sun, Denverite, The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain Public Media.

Photo of Denver Superintendent Susana Cordova signing tentative agreement ending the strike courtesy of Melanie Asmar’s Twitter feed.

2018 NewsMatch shattered Records for Philanthropic Support of Journalism

The urgent message that local news needs everyone’s support is resonating from coast to coast.

Last December, we told you about an effort the Colorado Media Project launched in partnership with NewsMatch to help local news organizations boost their end-of-year giving campaigns, as part of the national #GivingNewsDay campaign.

The local effort exceeded expectations, and we learned from NewsMatch today that Colorado was no outlier: the national campaign shattered records as well.

The Colorado Media Project’s #GivingNewsDay Challenge matched donations up to $1,500 each for seven Colorado news organizations, through a grant from the Gates Family Foundation. So it would have been considered a success if the seven newsrooms had met the match, bringing in a total of $21,000 between Nov. 27 and the end of the calendar year. As we reported at the time, newsrooms participating in the CMP effort more than doubled that,  netting almost $50,000.

As it turns out, Colorado was no outlier. NewsMatch announced today that nationally, 154 nonprofit newsrooms’ 2018 year-end fundraising push netted a total of $7.6 million from individual donors and a coalition of major funders.

That’s a 58 percent increase in dollars donated over 2017.

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Here in Colorado, Aspen Journalism, Chalkbeat Colorado, The Colorado Independent, High Country News, and Rocky Mountain Public Media participated in the NewsMatch campaign. The Colorado Sun and Denverite joined with those five outlets for the Colorado Media Project’s #GivingNewsDay Challenge.

Since NewsMatch was launched in 2016 with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the campaign has helped participating newsrooms raise more than $14 million from communities and foundations.

“A decade ago, nonprofit news was an emerging niche in the media ecosystem, clouded with uncertainty around sustainability” said Bob Ross, Chairman and CEO of Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. “The outstanding support from individuals and foundations through NewsMatch exemplifies the evolution from uncertainty to enthusiasm for nonprofit news and investigative reporting in communities across the country.”

“In an environment where nonprofit news increasingly faces a variety of threats, these results are a bright spot speaking volumes to how individuals from coast to coast are committed to supporting local, quality news,” said Sue Cross, Executive Director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News. “These results affirm the important role of local news and investigative journalism in communities, and ensure these organizations have the resources they need to inform communities moving forward.”

NewsMatch is an innovative platform for giving which combines small-dollar donations with foundation and corporate support and long-term capacity building for nonprofit news organizations. It is driven by the Institute for Nonprofit News and the News Revenue Hub, two organizations helping build more sustainable models for journalism in the U.S.

The campaign is supported by foundations and corporations including Democracy Fund, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, the Colorado Media Project/Gates Family Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the Wyncote Foundation. The Miami Foundation serves as fiscal sponsor for the fund.

“The success of this year’s NewsMatch campaign speaks to the growing sophistication of nonprofit news organizations across the country,” said Christina Shih, VP of Business Development at the News Revenue Hub, which offered hundreds of hours of training and additional hands-on support to NewsMatch participants both before and during the campaign. “Equipped with an increased capacity to diversify their revenue streams, these organizations are positioning themselves as valuable and trusted community resources that will be around for years to come.”

Announcing New Investments and Partners for Colorado's Local News Ecosystem

Announcing New Investments and Partners for Colorado's Local News Ecosystem

The Gates Family Foundation, Democracy Fund, and the University of Denver’s Project X-ITE announce new, significant commitments the Colorado Media Project. Our goal is to raise $2.5 million over three years to foster trustworthy, sustainable local journalism serving all Coloradans, and we’re more than halfway there.

Colorado Newsrooms Chart a Collaborative Future

Colorado Newsrooms Chart a Collaborative Future

The CMP joined forces with the Institute of Nonprofit News to host a workshop with 14 newsrooms—representing print, online, radio, and TV—from all around the state. The goal? To surface opportunities for building a “value network” to support local newsrooms in Colorado.

Double or Triple Your Donations on #GivingNewsDay

Double or Triple Your Donations on #GivingNewsDay

Today you can support the rebirth of strong local journalism by joining the national #GivingNewsDay movement. The CMP is offering a matching grant of up to $1,500 for seven Colorado outlets. With your gifts , we can bring a total of $21,000 to public-supported Colorado journalism on a single day — money that will be put to good use reporting stories that matter to our community.

The Year-End Giving Challenge: Grant Opportunity

The Year-End Giving Challenge: Grant Opportunity

Is your public service news outlet planning to do a year-end giving campaign? The Colorado Media Project is offering matching gifts of up to $1,500 per organization for new memberships or individual donations made on “Giving News Day” — a new, nationwide campaign to increase philanthropic giving to media outlets on November 27, 2018 (a.k.a. Giving Tuesday). LOIs due November 1.

Key Insights from the Colorado Media Project

Key Insights from the Colorado Media Project

In just four months, the Colorado Media Project has produced thought-provoking research and insights. Read our executive summary, or take a deep dive into the various components — from our 2,000+ survey of Colorodans, to digital prototypes and business concepts, to a benchmark study of Colordado’s digital and nonprofit outlets — and more.

2018 Colorado Media Survey finds a Sizable Market for Digital, Local News

2018 Colorado Media Survey finds a Sizable Market for Digital, Local News

About 2.4 million digitally-savvy Coloradans are interested in state, local, and neighborhood news, and read more than headlines, a Colorado Media Project survey of 2,000+ residents has found. And about 1 million of these Coloradans are willing to pay for local news - the first time this market has been quantified.

Colorado’s Digital and Nonprofit Media Landscape: 2018 Benchmark Report

Colorado’s Digital and Nonprofit Media Landscape: 2018 Benchmark Report

The Colorado Media Project — in partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News — set out to learn more about the state’s local news landscape, surveying 14 independent news outlets in Colorado to gain information about their mission, coverage topics, audience, staff size, business model, and more.

The Cultivo Media Prototypes

The Cultivo Media Prototypes

The prototyping process is all about the end user. Cultivo conducted empathy interviews with Coloradans from across the state, to hear first-hand about their personal experiences and challenges with Colorado local news today. Then they rapidly developed and user tested four digital prototypes to address common pain points with novel solutions. Read the final reports from GeoStory, StoryHound, Inspectre News, and The Daily Snack.

How to Fix Local Journalism? Just Listen

How to Fix Local Journalism? Just Listen

How can local journalists better connect with their audiences and serve their communities? This has emerged as a central question for the Colorado Media Project, and the focus of countless hours of interviews with journalists and news consumers throughout the state. Through more than a decade of working on precisely this problem, Molly de Aguiar -- Managing Director of the international News Integrity Initiative and former media grantmaker for New Jersey’s Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation -- has found the solutions to be simple in theory, yet difficult in application.