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📉 New Colorado survey: A gap in trust between national and state/local media
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‘No trust at all’
If you’ve seen that Kroger commercial playing over and over in Colorado lately, you likely can’t get that “low, low, low,” jingle out of your head.
Now think about that as you read these new survey results about trust Coloradans have in media to provide unbiased news. Asked this question, “How much trust do you have in the state and local media to report news and information in an unbiased and objective manner?” 38% of state residents said “No trust at all.”
That’s according to a new survey by the Colorado polling firm Magellan Strategies, which incorporated questions about media into its latest political survey of nearly 800 registered Colorado voters. For what it’s worth, asked the same question about national media, the no-trust-at-all number jumped to 54%.
Here are the questions and results in black and white (images courtesy of Magellan Strategies, used with permission):
Kinda grim! Here’s the survey result breakdown side by side:
The firm conducted its interviews Feb. 9 to Feb. 17. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.53%.
I asked Magellan’s CEO David Flaherty why he tested the question. He said it’s a common one his firm just hadn’t asked in a while. “I wanted a current measurement, post-Trump,” he said. “I also wanted to see the gap in national media vs. local.” Now we have it.
Flaherty didn’t have a previous measurement about trust in media immediately available, but said he believes the numbers have gone down in part because of former Republican President Donald Trump who undermined trust in media as a major strategy during his 2016 campaign and beyond. (Editor’s note: In 2016, the Colorado Republican Committee sent direct mail flyers to state voters here that read “The media can’t be trusted.”)
Another media question included in the survey was one asking voters whether they agree with more government regulation and oversight of social media companies.
The pollsters found voters overwhelmingly (70%) said yes. Asked to explain why, Magellan reported, “For Democratic voters, it’s about stopping the spread of misinformation and hate groups. From Republican voters, it’s more about freedom of speech.”
Here’s a snapshot of what some respondents, all urban and suburban unaffiliated voters, said when given the opportunity to expand on their answers:
A Colorado Democratic lawmaker filed a bill aimed at ‘fake news’ online
Democratic State Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail, who is running for a chance to take on Republican U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, has filed quite an interesting piece of legislation.
Her bill, if it becomes law, would create a state digital communications division and commission. The new regulators would create a registry of digital communications platforms that do business in the state, or, even more broadly “own or operate services that are offered to Colorado residents.” Failing to register could lead to a $5,000 fine.
Posting at Reason magazine’s site, UCLA professor Eugene Volokh had the scoop Tuesday about the bill filing. Here’s more about what the proposed new law would do:
The division shall investigate and the commission may hold hearings on claims filed with the division alleging that a digital communications platform has allowed a person to engage in one or more unfair or discriminatory digital communications practices on the platform, which practices:
Include practices that promote hate speech; undermine election integrity; disseminate intentional disinformation, conspiracy theories, or fake news; or authorize, encourage, or carry out violations of users' privacy; and
May include business, political, or social practices that are conducted in a manner that a person aggrieved by the practices can demonstrate are unfair or discriminatory to the aggrieved person. Such practices, if done in an unfair or discriminatory manner, might include:
Practices that target users for purposes of collecting and disseminating users' personal data, including users' sensitive data;
Profiling users based on their personal data collected;
Selling or authorizing others to use users' personal data to provide location-based advertising or targeted advertising; or
Using facial recognition software and other tracking technology.
Colorado Sun reporter Jesse Paul, who closely covers the legislature, said — on the digital communications platform Twitter, no less — that the bill is “very unlikely to pass,” noting Donovan is the only sponsor.
Discussion on Movement Journalism, ‘the end of objectivity,’ and more
This week, Diamond Hardiman of News Voices: Colorado joined a virtual panel discussion with other journalists and community organizers about movement journalism.
“Recently there has been a rapid growth of those who call themselves movement journalists,” reads the post at Haymarket, the bookseller that hosted the video. “These reporters seek to recenter community and directly impacted folks in their reporting instead of solely relying on the voice of institutions to create reporting that is factual, accurate, and speaks to the humanity of the people they report on.”
Here’s more from the post:
Since its proliferation in the 1920s, objectivity has been used as a tool of journalism, developed to create neutrality in reporting. However, as journalist Ramona Martinez says, “Objectivity is the ideology of the status quo.” What has been forgotten in media history is that there have always been journalists resisting even the largest journalism corporations and their unequal coverage of the marginalized communities.
Hardiman, who is involved in Media 2070, an essay that makes the case for media reparations, talked among other things about how a history of media harm against Black, brown and indigenous communities is central to the project’s theme around “understanding media as a system the same way that we understand the prison industrial complex, the same way that we think about economic justice and housing.” Media, she said, “is something that can be organized within and against and so we have to understand the way that it has impacted our communities.” What Media 2070 says is that “a debt is owed,” she said.
Hardiman also mentioned how one of her current projects involves combating journalism as a tool for the surveillance state. “If we’re talking about the way that … police are centered in the way that we talk about uprisings, if we’re talking about the crime beat … anywhere we can find it I want it gone,” she said, adding she wants journalists to “stop being complicit in helping put Black and brown bodies in danger.”
Other panelists included Cierra Hinton, Clarissa Brooks, Anoa Changa, and Dalyah Jones. Watch the whole thing here.
West Slope journalist sued by her local government speaks out
Eric McIntyre, who co-owns The Ouray County Plaindealer newspaper, spoke this week with KVNF’s Gavin Dahl for the public radio station’s Local Motion segment about what it’s like getting sued for doing her job.
This newsletter reported last month how McIntyre had joined the ranks of other journalists sued by a government after a reporter filed paperwork that officially asked for records the reporter believed should be public. In this case, when the reporter asked for records involving public health workers, the local government instead petitioned a judge to decide whether the government must release the documents and named the journalist as a defendant, McIntyre said.
Why a government might bring a court action is to become the plaintiff in an open-records case and not a defendant, which could spare a government attorneys fees if it loses, said Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition director Jeff Roberts who was also a guest for the segment.
Dahl devoted nearly 30 minutes of broadcast time to the case.
An update since the last time you read about this here: The newspaper wound up getting its hands on the records; the public health employees turned them over themselves to get it over with, McIntyre said. But because the paper didn’t get them from the actual records custodian, she added, it doesn’t mean the county complied with the law. So they’re still in court.
“We’ve watched newspaper jobs disintegrate across the country for all these years,” Dahl said at one point in the broadcast. “Sometimes we in the press don’t do enough to sort of stick up for ourselves because we’re focused on serving our readers, our listeners.” He asked McIntyre if she had a message about that.
“When we bought the Plaindealer, we said that one of our reasons was that we believed that even small places deserve good journalism,” she said. “And part of that is being a watchdog of sorts and keeping an eye on local government and making sure that public business is done in public. And so we’re going to keep fighting that fight. If people think that we have an agenda here, yeah, we do, the agenda is the truth. That’s always going to be our agenda. So we are always going to advocate for sunshine where it needs to be.”
As long as governments keep violating the Colorado Open Records Act, she added, “we’re going to keep going to court.”
The Black press in the Springs: ‘Mainstream media did not tell our stories’
The African American Voice, a news outlet based in El Paso County that promises to offer the “best source for monthly Black news online,” is part of the history of Black newspapers in Colorado Springs.
“I had a strong feeling that there was a need to start a newspaper in Colorado, mainly Colorado Springs, because the mainstream media did not tell our stories,” publisher James Tucker says in a 2019 mini-documentary produced in association with Colorado College Film and Media Studies students and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
Tucker started the paper as he was serving in the Gulf War. The African American Voice recently highlighted the film on its site.
In the mini-doc, titled “African American Newspapers of Colorado Springs,” Heather Jordan, an archivist for the Pikes Peak Library District, explains how Black staffers at the Antlers Hilton started the Antlers Publishing Company, which launched in the 1800s a short-lived newspaper called The Colorado Springs Sun. “The Black papers really served and filled a gap that the mainstream papers were not necessarily interested in writing about,” Jordan said. While there were plenty of Black newspapers at the time, she added, for some reason they all shuttered around the 1900s.
Elsewhere in the film, a local Black student who became the subject of contemporary news coverage after being expelled from school talks about how she felt the Voice covered her story differently than other local media.
“The most important thing is keeping the community informed, educating them about issues that are important not only to the Black community but all people to make this a better country and a better place for all of us,” Tucker says in the video. “That’s the power of the Black press. That’s the only weapon we have in order to fight back. Through writing. Through the pen. Through research. Through not being afraid to tell the truth.”
More Colorado local media odds & ends
🇨🇦 The Canadian company Village Media says it’s “thrilled to announce its expansion into the U.S. with the acquisition of The Longmont Leader in Longmont, Colorado.”
🗳️ A former journalist is running for a seat on the Fort Collins City Council.
⚙️ Vince Bzdek, editor of The Gazette in Colorado Springs, one of the state’s largest newspapers, wrote a column suggesting it’s time to bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps “to rebuild America.”
📫 The Gannett-owned Coloradoan newspaper in Fort Collins has “nine staff-curated newsletters featuring local stories.” (How many newsletters does your local news outlet produce?)
🗞️ Writing in The Boulder Daily Camera, former CU Regent and law professor Jim Martin opined about ways to help support local journalism like a “need for the federal government to legislate that Google, Facebook and similar companies pay for articles they pirate” or “offering a personal tax credit to newspaper subscribers and enabling privately owned companies to become tax-exempt nonprofits in support of journalism.” (Some former Camera reporters noted the irony of where the column appeared.)
➡️ Journalist resource: “How to report on Indigenous communities with tact and nuance.”
🤦 In neighboring Nebraska, “Westside High School journalism students are objecting to the district administration’s effort to review controversial material before it’s published.” (One journalism teacher resigned over it.)
📱 Colorado lawmakers have two bipartisan bills “to promote media literacy and strengthen civics education.” The Denver Post reports: “The prime Republican sponsor of the media literacy bill, Sen. Don Coram of Montrose, also is sponsoring the second bipartisan bill to require the state board of education to review civics education standards and update them with specifics that schools should teach.”
✅ The Colorado House Education Committee on March 3 passed a media literacy bill out of the panel. The hearing featured a GOP lawmaker lecturing a state election security worker that the U.S. is not a democracy. “That’s a bias you have,” the lawmaker told him. (The election worker had testified in favor of the bill, saying among other things, “we’re confident this bill will help strengthen Coloradans’ resilience to foreign disinformation and as a result help us … protect our democracy.” Listen to the debate here.
📢 The Ark Valley Voice newspaper reports “Some Colorado news organizations have received demands that we print false information about a variety of hot-button topics.”
☀️ The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s Sunshine Week panel “on misinformation and disinformation” will be March 18. Sign up here.
🔄 BizWest reports Outside Inc., a Colorado-based company whose 30 brands include Outside magazine, Yoga Journal, and Backpacker, “has rebranded the trade journal SNEWS to Outside Business Journal, and has placed all of the outlet’s content at outsidebusinessjournal.com.”
⚰️ Feb. 27 was the 12th anniversary of the day The Rocky Mountain News folded.
💯 After Colorado Community Media reporter Jessica Gibbs published a package of stories about current and former Black members of the Douglas County School Board community “sharing their experiences in the predominantly white district,” she said, “Journalism pals, if you’ve not familiarized yourself with @colabnewsco and the support available to you through them, you've got to. Extra training, coaching and sharing resources makes local journalism stronger. This is just one project that wouldn't be the same without ‘em.”
🎒 Teens got a chance to write for The Denver Post’s opinion pages.
🌡️ High Country News hired its first climate justice fellow. Brandon Yadegari “reports in both English and Spanish, focusing on displacement, migration, queerness, and land use in the American West and Latin America.”
⛰️ A big new report, “Healthy Local News Ecosystems,” by Impact Architects with support from Democracy Fund, Google News Initiative, and Knight Foundation contains a ton of Colorado mentions.
🐦 The New York Times led with a Denver radio host’s tweet for a story headlined “How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot.”
📺 Two new TV broadcasters are joining the Springs market as a meteorologist leaves.
🏫 University of Denver journalism professor Kareem El Damanhoury and students are “partnering with RMPBS to produce content for the Colorado Voices series.”
🎙️ Colorado Public Radio’s incoming audience editor took on the governor of Texas with a personal story about his father’s death from COVID-19.
💻 The States Newsroom, the network that oversees Colorado Newsline, is expanding into more states including neighboring New Mexico.
I’m Corey Hutchins, instructor at Colorado College’s Journalism Institute, the Colorado-based contributor for Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project, and a journalist for multiple news outlets. The Colorado Media Project, where I write case studies, is underwriting this newsletter, and my “Inside the News” column appears at COLab, both of which I sometimes write about here. (If you, too, would like to underwrite this newsletter, hit me up.) Follow me on Twitter, reply or subscribe to this weekly newsletter here, or e-mail me at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.