In the spring of 2018, Coloradans began grappling in earnest with an accelerating but under-the-radar crisis: the significant diminishment of local news coverage, and its negative impact on the underpinnings of a healthy, civil society. Across the state, in public forums and private discussions, community members reflected on all that we have lost over the past decade. About 500 print journalists covered Denver and the state for its two daily papers in 2009, before the demise of the Rocky Mountain News and the hollowing of the Denver Post. Today, the Post newsroom is down to fewer than 70. Throughout the state, other community papers have faced a similar decline, and many areas have become “local news deserts”.
With our state’s population expected to increase by more than 40 percent by 2040, it is vital that Coloradans have access to reliable, trustworthy news and information about the issues most critical to the future of our state: public education, natural resources, health and economic equity, growth and development, transportation, arts and culture, and more. Local news outlets play a unique role, helping to populate our public squares with daily coverage, in-depth investigations, analysis, and in the best cases, they shed light on solutions. Especially as news platforms and formats continue to evolve, our ability to participate effectively in a democratic society – and to combat the spread of misinformation – is inextricably tied to the health, trustworthiness, and accessibility of our local sources of news and information.
In just four months, the Colorado Media Project has produced thought-provoking research and insights on the issues above.
Read our executive summary, Key Insights and Recommendations from the Colorado Media Project, review our Sept. 24 presentation to the community, or take a deep dive into the various components:
A scan of local news trends, innovations, and insights gleaned from research, case studies, and stories across the U.S. and worldwide;
A survey of more than 2,000 Colorado residents – detailing their news consumption patterns, platform and topic preferences, and willingness to pay for local news;
A benchmark study of independent, non-traditional news outlets in Colorado – to learn who’s out there producing high-quality, digital and public-service journalism, and how they’re doing it;
In-depth interviews with dozens of Colorado media professionals – drawing on their aggregate 500+ years of journalism experience;
Design thinking workshops, digital prototypes, and market test results for four digital-first news apps – aimed at connecting more Coloradans to local news in ways that address their needs;
An in-depth analysis of two potential business models for commercially viable, statewide news platforms serving the public interest;
And a series of public events to expose Colorado residents to national thought leaders in the field – including Seth Geiger of SmithGeiger, Molly de Aguiar of the News Integrity Initiative, and Jason Alcorn of NewsMatch and the Democracy Fund’s Local News Lab.