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Target: Broomfield 🎯 Canadian local news chain lands 2nd Colorado town
Your week in the news behind the news in Colorado
For months, a Canadian digital local news company has been teasing where it might open a second newsroom in Colorado.
Now, the for-profit Ontario-based company is looking for an editor, a reporter, and a sales person for an outlet it’s calling The Broomfield Leader. The new local news organization will become a sister site to the Longmont Leader, which Village Media took over from the Google-and-McClatchy-backed Compass Experiment in March.
“We feel it will be a nice complement to Longmont — and definitely appears under serviced from a hyperlocal news standpoint,” Elgie told me this week about the soon-to-launch newsroom.
Broomfield, a small county of about 70,000 between Denver and Boulder, is home to The Broomfield Enterprise, one of the collection of Colorado papers financially controlled by the newsroom-gutting Alden Global Capital hedge fund. On Twitter, Brooklyn Dance’s profile reads “Solo reporter for the Broomfield Enterprise.”
Village Media operates more than a dozen sites in Canada and one in Nigeria — so it’s notable that the company’s expansion into the United States starts in Colorado with this pair of Front Range sites.
Last summer, tech and media journalist Simon Owens spotlighted how Village Media’s local news organizations had “succeeded where so many legacy newspapers have struggled or failed.” In one case study, the Google News Initiative wrote that “even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, where many local publishers have closed or furloughed workers and digital ad spend has taken hits of 15%+, Village Media increased revenue.”
During a Zoom visit with Colorado College students earlier this year, CEO Elgie said part of Village’s secret is a notion that it’s nimble and “born” digital. “Everything we do is focused on the digital operation,” he said. “We’re not trying to save a hemorrhaging legacy newspaper, for example, where it’s directing a tremendous amount of resources.”
When COVID-19 hit, Village Media did lose business, Elgie said, but quickly pivoted, relying on its tech capabilities to create non-journalism custom products that included helping local restaurants focus on their takeout products and building custom widgets for hospitals to help them communicate to the public.
As for his local news sites in Canada, Elgie said the company strives to get five million page views a month for them. (I very much doubt that will be possible in Longmont or Broomfield.)
Village Media now has a Denver office, and, underscoring another element of its growing influence here, the recently launched Boulder Reporting Lab announced it is “part of Village Media’s Publisher Services Program, which will provide revenue and audience growth services.”
The Broomfield Leader will pay an editor up to $55,000, and a reporter up to $47,500, according to its job listings.
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How The Sun’s Flowers plans to approach the inequality beat
As The Colorado Sun expands its staff, one of its newest reporters will focus on “exploring social and economic inequality in the state.”
That’s what Tatiana Flowers said on a recent podcast for the 3-year-old public benefit corporation. Asked by fellow reporter David Gilbert how she defined inequality, she said for her it’s an imbalance in any situation — and that’s where she’ll zero in.
“I think as reporters we tend to look at inequality through the lens of who is affected, and that will be the approach I take probably on any story,” she said.
“Who is suffering? Who is struggling or most negatively impacted by a situation, a law or policy, or by power dynamics in some way? And what are the systemic structures in place to keep it that way? And what needs to be changed so that this group of people or this person or whatever I’m writing about — how do we help them live a better life?”
Cheers to that.
Asked what influences her worldview about inequality, she said it’s her personal experience, “just as a woman and as a Black person here.” She said it’s also being friends with other people of color and “just being a human being. And when you see suffering you kind of just want to do whatever you can to help the person — and so for us it’s through doing stories.”
Why an Aspen newspaper editor spoke at a recent rally
Last week, Megan Tackett, editor of the Aspen Daily News, spoke at a rally organized by high school students in opposition to the new Texas abortion law.
Halle Zander of Aspen Public Radio interviewed her about her decision, leading with an anecdote about a recent change at NPR that allows its reporters to participate in “civic, cultural and community activities.”
In the latest edition of the Elements of Journalism, which came out in August, authors Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel write:
We were part of conversations in which newsroom editors acknowledged usefully that they stood for certain values — they were not neutral. They stood, for instance, for equal rights under the law, for racial justice, for government transparency, and more. Each news organization could make its own list (although many of the same concepts would likely show up on many of the lists). And different newsrooms could arrive at slightly different conclusions about what was allowed. … It is one thing for a news organization to stand for a set of principles such as equality under the law, social justice, factualism, and government transparency. It is another to endorse the particular policies or solutions of one group in the arena over another on issues of controversy over those principles. The difference is not neutrality. It is independence.
At the rally, Tackett, who calls the Aspen Daily News “truly an independent newspaper,” told the crowd she struggled about whether to participate.
“So often these days, I identify mostly with my job. And journalists don’t typically participate in events. They document them,” she said in her speech. “But when a young woman I’ve come to admire asked me to speak at an event she was organizing, I remembered even more than my job, I identify as a woman.”
Tackett went more in depth with Zander about her decision to speak at the Aspen rally in which she talked about the history of women’s rights and reproductive rights. The editor explained that while writing a feature story about a local high schooler, Océane O’Shea Jones, who was organizing the protest rally and march, O’Shea Jones told her how excited she was about inviting members of the community to speak at her rally, including local city leaders. Later, the organizer emailed Tackett and asked if she would speak at her rally. Tackett thought there was a good chance she hadn’t heard back from some of the people the young organizer hoped would say yes.
The newspaper editor said she wouldn’t have participated in such an event if it was, say, organized by the local Democratic Party. But…
“Because it was this high school girl who felt so passionately about wanting to bring her community together around really, truly what I believe personally is a universal human rights issue — so if I’m being asked to participate and speak as me, as Megan Tackett, not on behalf of the Aspen Daily News, but just me, as a person, I kind of found myself realizing when was the last time I did that?”
But she realized also she is indeed the local newspaper editor.
“I think there’s this question that we’re all asking ourselves of what kind of world are you documenting — and are you going to be complacent in the fact that you may be writing stories and covering movements that you’re mortified by — and how did we get here,” she said. “And that’s a question that I don’t want to have to ask myself and not like the answer, either.”
Her intention that day “was not to make a political speech,” she said. “My intent was to invite some compassion for everyone in the room.”
‘It’s not enough just to have us in the room’
If you missed PEN America’s Wednesday in-person panel titled “Keeping it Local: Representation in Colorado Journalism,” organizers taped it and put it online.
“We have a chance now to talk about systemic solutions within our industry and not just incremental ones,” said COLab journalist and coach Tina Griego who moderated the event.
Panelists included former 9News journalist Lori Lizarraga, Open Media Foundation founder Tony Shawcross, Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, and Sherkiya Wedgeworth-Hollowell, Colorado Public Radio’s managing editor of accountability and outreach.
During the discussion, Shawcross pointed to stats that show diversity in media is between 10% to 20% less than the general workforce.
“It’s not enough just to have us in the room,” Lizarraga said at one point on the panel. “You have to empower your voices from diverse communities.”
Wedgeworth-Hollowell told the crowd how CPR reporters use a tracking system for which they ask their coverage sources about their pronouns and their ethnicity. Colorado Public Radio can then they analyze the data. If CPR sees “there’s just a whole lot of white men we’ve been interviewing this week,” she said, “then we can be like, OK, let’s huddle. We need to bring this down some. Let’s even this out a little bit. It’s that simple.”
At the end, each of the panelists offered their dreams for journalism. Watch the whole thing here.
Two Springs talk-radio hosts say they got canned over vaccine requirements
Conservative talk-radio host Jeff Crank says he lost a job he’s held for more than a dozen years because he didn’t want to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
From his Facebook page last Saturday:
Recently Cumulus Media – which owns KVOR – instituted a forced employee vaccination policy nationwide. While I am not anti-vaccination, I am anti-tyranny and I told them that I find their policy unethical and immoral. I’ve already had coronavirus. I discussed the vaccine with my doctor and he recommended that I not take the vaccine at this time as there was very little risk to me contracting COVID and even less risk of having severe complications from COVID. I’m going to make my medical decisions after consultation with my doctor – and it won’t be forced onto me by the CEO of a company that I’ve never met or knows nothing about me.
Last week I had a cordial conversation with my friend, Bobby Irwin, the program manager at Cumulus Colorado Springs and he informed me that, because of my position on the issue and not providing proof of vaccination, today’s show will be my last show on KVOR.
The Colorado Times Recorder has more background on Crank and reported he has started a podcast “so he can continue his show.” The progressive news site also reported that KVOR’s weekend talk-show host, Tron Simpson, similarly said he caught the axe for not getting a jab.
What are some of the most important things we know because of Colorado journalism?
There are things Coloradans know. A lot of them are important. But do we ever stop and think how we know what we know? Chances are it’s because of the work of a local journalist.
Whether it’s what’s on your property tax bill or whether your child’s teacher might be packing heat, the number of ski deaths last season, or how many actual days of sunshine we have, it’s journalists who get us the answers to questions we ourselves might have never thought to even ask.
For instance, we know Black and Latino Colorado residents have fallen behind their white counterparts because journalists analyzed six decades of U.S. Census data and cross referenced it with home ownership, poverty rates, family income, and graduation rates. It’s grim, but it’s vital information.
We didn’t know it at the time, but we know now that during the last holiday season Colorado had “the worst rate of death per occupied nursing home bed” in the entire nation. (We were twice the national average death rate.) The governor's office didn’t exactly put out a press release about that. A journalist uncovered it using public records and digging through data.
You might not have known why before, but if your property tax bill is high, you probably now know it could be because the metropolitan district you live in and the developer who built your home racked up debt and left you holding the bag. And, no, it likely wasn’t your real estate agent who told you that; a journalist figured it out. (And after reading coverage of it, legislators changed state law.)
I’ve been trying to come up with a Top 10 list that really drives this home.
What do you think are some of the things we Coloradans know now — and might even take for granted — but only really came to light because of shoe-leather accountability reporting? I might round them up here or elsewhere.
More Colorado media odds & ends
🆕 Welcome Luige del Puerto who joins Colorado Politics as managing editor. He comes from Arizona News Service where he was editor and publisher. “A native of the Philippines, Del Puerto cut his journalistic teeth covering crime in the streets of Metro Manila.”
❌ Last week I referred to the Colorado News Conservancy as the National News Conservancy.
👋 Doug Bennett, who was CEO of family owned Ballentine Communications, which owns The Durango Herald newspaper, is out. The Ballantines “wanted a change that provided more focus on print,” Bennett said last week in an email. (I’ve been talking to some folks about that paper and its recent struggles, and I hope to have something in-depth about it down the line.)
🚰 The Colorado Sun is hiring a water reporter who it will pay $60k to $80k.
💀 Writing in The Atlantic, McKay Coppins offered a disturbing profile of the Alden Global Capital hedge fund that controls a dozen or so newspapers in Colorado. “They call Alden a vulture hedge fund, and I think that’s honestly a misnomer,” one source told him. “A vulture doesn’t hold a wounded animal’s head underwater. This is predatory.”
❓ Denver PR pro Jeremy Story wonders if KUSA 9News in Denver could get “Aldened.”
💯 “A Colorado Springs middle-school student was recently selected for an international program that gives budding young reporters on-the-job training before they even reach high school,” The Gazette reported.
⚖️ High-profile election-denying Trumpworld figures appeared in a Denver courtroom this week for arguments in a defamation case a Dominion Voting Systems employee brought against them.
📺 CBS Denver has named Kristine Strain as its news director. She takes over for Tim Wieland who had that role for nearly 20 years.
📰 Kristen Fiore will become the West Metro Editor at Colorado Community Media where she’ll oversee coverage of Jefferson and Clear Creek counties for the newspapers. She comes from Florida’s Villages Daily Sun.
⛔ Rod Hicks, the director of Ethics and Diversity for the Society of Professional Journalists, wrote about the Boulder Daily Camera retraction, saying: “There was no explanation of how such a problematic story made it into the newspaper.”
💨 “Every time we do a race column we lose subscribers to our newsletter....a lot,” said the publisher of the syndicated column Writers on the Range.
🔎 “Applying a seldom-used provision in the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), Denver Public Schools has asked a judge to determine whether it can disclose redacted portions of an outsider investigator’s report on sexual misconduct allegations against school board member Tay Anderson,” the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition reports.
🥃 Read in Westword why and how a Denver Press Club board member bought a bar in Oak Creek. “Stop in sometime,” he writes. “You just might get a good story out of it.”
🎙️ KSUT Public Radio has landed a three-year $235,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation’s Community Initiated Solutions program. The grant, “Widening the Circle: Improving Native American Health Disparities Through Multi-Media Storytelling Projects,” will support several initiatives.
✋ “Prominent supporters of former president Donald Trump are using a new Colorado law to try to dismiss a defamation lawsuit over their false claims of election rigging,” CPR reports.
🏆 Congrats to Susan Greene of COLab and Priscilla Waggoner for winning a Best Investigative Journalism award from the Institute for Nonprofit News. “Three Bullets to the Back” was about the 2020 police shooting of Zach Gifford, which COLab reported “rattled rural Kiowa County more than any incident in decades, yet about which local officials and residents have stayed strikingly silent.” Judges said the reporting “includes small-town attitudes as being part of the problem because critical reporting in that atmosphere is challenging.”
📡 KUSA and KTVD, channels 9 and 20, were “currently not available for DISH subscribers,” The Denver Post reported Tuesday.
📢 “A student expelled from Cherry Creek High School for posting an anti-Semitic comment on Snapchat is appealing a district court dismissal of his case against the district for violating his First-Amendment rights,” Sentinel Colorado reported.
🆕 Welcome Lacey Latch who reports on politics for The Pueblo Chieftain.
🗞️ “With a long history of producing community journalism, several newspapers that are now part of Colorado Community Media have been led by strong women since they started being published,” The Arvada Press reported.
I’m Corey Hutchins, interim director of 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 would like to join CMP and Grasslands in underwriting 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.