By Lynn Schofield Clark
Department Chair, Media Film and Journalism Studies, Denver University
Colorado has found itself in the middle of an extraordinary journalism experiment. And now, members of the Colorado Media Project, an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty at the University of Denver’s Project X-ite, the Gates Family Foundation, and the Boston Consulting Group, are joining others in brokering a fast-paced summer conversation about it.
We’re living through this experiment in Colorado because we’re arguably the first of the large and economically strong U.S. capitol cities to witness the demise of a primary daily newspaper after that paper’s purchase by a hedge fund. And the Denver Post made national news in the spring of 2018 when the Post’s own Editorial Board launched the headline News Matters in their expose of owner Alden Global Media’s layoffs and business-over-civic life approach.
Colorado was a two-paper region until the former Rocky Mountain Newsclosed its doors in 2009, just months shy of its 150th anniversary.
Today, Colorado is home to many journalistic ventures, of both the for-profit and not-for-profit kind. The latest of these is The Colorado Sun, which launched its daily newsletter June 20, joining the Colorado Independent, Denverite, and those with a longer news history including the Denver Post, Westword, High Country News, the venerable Colorado Public Radio and the in-depth news reporting arm of Rocky Mountain PBS. 9News tops the TV ratings, as 7’s The Denver Channel and CBS4champion the community while Fox31 cleans up with the senior demographic. Also on the scene are the longtime Denver Business Journal and relative newcomers Chalkbeat and Colorado Politics, the Spanish-language LaPrensa and La Voz, as well as several noteworthy (and, noteworthily consolidating) community news outlets such as North Denver News and Denver Metro Media.
And so to help the Colorado Media Project, I spent the morning curating research about journalism’s audiences and consumers, looking into various journalism experiments and research efforts going on both here and around the world. I’d like your help in expanding my list as those in Colorado think through what can help address our current unfolding experiment and what can help as we take a design thinking approach to problem-solving and prototyping. We need your insights, from wherever you’re working and whatever you’re thinking.
So please head over to the collective brain dump that I’ve started for our conversation. Let me know if you have a link to that study that explored the connections between the closing of the Rocky Mountain News and the decline in Denver civic engagement, for instance, as I’ve lost track of it. Drop me a line if you have something else I need to see and share with others, and let me know if you’d like to be involved in other ways. I’d love to hear from you: Lynn.Clark@du.edu.