Thursday, September 17, 2009

Saving the News meeting in Denver shows level of concern among public, reveals new Colorado Public Television in-depth reporting initiative

About 200 people gathered Wednesday night at the Colorado History Museum in Denver for a meeting put on by

The 14 roundtables where citizens could talk about their concerns about what's happening to the media and the future of journalism in Denver seemed to be the most lively aspect of the meeting. They were followed by a general panel and Q&A. (I was one of the five panelists.)

The "news" from the meeting was the announcement from Wick Rowland, president and CEO of Colorado Public Television , KBDI-TV/12, that his station would be creating a web site and television program featuring local "in-depth and investigative reporting."

The service, to be called, Colorado Public News, is being led by Ann Imse, a former reporter at the Rocky Mountain News. Rowland's station is providing 24% of a $2.2 million full-year budget for a staff of 12, according to a flier Imse provided at the meeting. The donation includes air time on the station, a web site, libel insurance, staff for handling underwriting and donations, a media center with offices and administrative services and a 501 (c)(3). An initial donation of $10,000 is financing a prototype web site with a sample package of in-depth stories.

The flier says the group needs $400,000 to get started, $1.7 million for a full year with a full staff.

KDBI has a history of fund-raising, so that might give this initiative a leg up in the competition for dollars to support in-depth reporting in Colorado post the Rocky Mountain News. But raising that kind of money won't be easy.

Among the issues addressed at the meeting were the impact on the community of the loss of the Rocky, the plummeting levels of public trust in the media, how to insure that people and minority groups continue to have a voice, how to support investigative journalism, what alternatives there might be to mainstream media, diversity, "corporate media" as a problem and the possibility of more funding for a "public option" for news. Organizers promised a follow-up session in January.

The session was put on by Free Press and I want my Rocky.


  1. I wish I had been able to attend.

    My own concern is that Diversity itself may be a problem for the industry. Perhaps newspapers cater too much to niche groups and don't make an "Average Joe" feel the paper knows what he wants to read.

    Diversity is a catchphrase of university students, urban Democrats and middle managers. By definition, most people aren't minorities and perhaps most would rather see a few more stories and columnists talking about people like themselves rather than about some minority group.

    For instance, a few months back the Denver Post did two stories on the gay community within 30 days of each other. (Dates are 7/13 and 8/13 respectively) One was about a gay rodeo. Another was something about the "bear" subculture. Gay pride stories fell in between both.

    Lots of people can't relate to these stories and in this case many won't let their kids read a paper that carries them.

    Now if the paper had instead done an in-depth story about a normal rodeo and a grizzly bear conservation effort, perhaps more average folk would feel more invested in their local paper.

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