On Nov. 27, the day of charitable giving known as Giving Tuesday, the Colorado Media Project brought together leaders in philanthropy and local news to make the first-ever joint appeal to readers: Join the national #GivingNewsDay movement and show your support for strong local journalism for Colorado.
The goal was to raise $21,000 in 24 hours for local news — money that would go towards reporting stories that matter to our communities.
In fact, Coloradans responded far beyond expectations with donations that were doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled by local and national donors and foundations, filling newsroom coffers to ensure more and better local journalism in 2019. The Colorado Media Project matched the first $1,500 to each newsroom, and in all, the outlets raised nearly $50,000 in a single day — the equivalent of a full-time rookie reporter’s salary and benefits for a year. Nearly 300 people contributed to participating outlets on #GivingNewsDay alone.
It’s heartening to see that Coloradans are eager to support local news, especially when they see their donations matched. Five of the news organizations who participated on Nov. 27 were nonprofit newsrooms: Aspen Journalism, Chalkbeat Colorado, The Colorado Independent, High Country News, and Rocky Mountain Public Media. The Colorado Sun and Denverite, both intrepid, reader-supported newsrooms, also joined the campaign.
“What we [...] saw is that donors love a match,” Independent editor Susan Greene said of her experience with the #GivingNewsDay challenge. “Thank you all from us at The Indy!”
The Colorado Sun senior editor Dana Coffield echoed that enthusiasm.. “We had a great day,” she said. “We signed up 45 new members, which sent $2,730 to our bank account. We had a fun time with the promotion. Thanks for all of your support!”
As an ever-growing share of advertising revenue gets gobbled up by Facebook and Google, small, independent news organizations — for-profit and nonprofit alike — are increasingly turning to individual donor campaigns and membership drives to support their journalism. They draw inspiration not just from public media but also from local arts organizations, faith-based communities, civic service clubs, and more.
To facilitate the one-day challenge, the Colorado Media Project organized a planning session to get leaders from the seven outlets thinking about ways that they could raise awareness about the value of local news to Coloradans. The group decided to co-write and co-sign an appeal to spotlight each other’s stories, connections to the community, and role in civil society. On #GivingNewsDay, each outlet sent the message of solidarity to its readers and promoted one another via social media. The donations were underwritten by a gift from Colorado’s Gates Family Foundation.
“I’m thrilled to see news organizations in Colorado coming together to talk about the importance of local news,” said Jason Alcorn, program manager for NewsMatch, a national matching-gift campaign that is helping nonprofit newsrooms across the country raise $7 million by Dec. 31 by doubling individual donations. “Quality journalism faces threats from technology and declining trust, which is why the Colorado Media Project’s message that we all have a responsibility for the quality of our local news and there’s something we can do to make it better is so important.”
Strong local news provides the backbone of a vibrant civil society but the collaborative spirit behind the #GivingNewsDay challenge is new. A decade ago, two highly competitive newspapers in Denver employed a combined 600 journalists, and coverage was robust. Today, with only one newspaper surviving, Denver newspaper jobs have been cut by almost 90 percent. Independent news organizations are doing a noble job filling some of the void. But they need continued support if they are to survive, grow, and provide Coloradans with the coverage of the issues that affect their daily lives.
If you haven’t given yet, NewsMatch runs to the end of the calendar year. You can support your favorite local news outlet and see your donation doubled until the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31.
Find more information here about some of the great work done this year by participating local news outlets.