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Newsroom scouts for areas where more watchdog reporting is warranted

July 1, 2020 5:00 am
Colorado Capitol

The Colorado Capitol in Denver as seen on June 12, 2020. (Andy Bosselman for Colorado Newsline)

In preparing to launch Colorado Newsline, the question I heard more than any other was, “How will you fit in with all the other news outlets in Colorado?”

Great question. And at first I didn’t have a good answer. But here, as part of this inaugural editor’s commentary, and by way of extending to you a warm welcome to the nonprofit Newsline site, I will attempt an answer.

Colorado is comparatively rich in news activity, with startup outlets regularly arising, if not always succeeding, and certain government beats covered well. Colorado is the site of several news experiments that have even received national attention, as industry professionals and news consumers watch to see if this or that startup signals a successful transition away from old business models that have collapsed and left readers too often bereft of the information on which they depend in satisfying civic interests and fulfilling democratic responsibilities.

Colorado Newsline reporter Chase Woodruff

But, even as the Colorado media landscape has in certain ways proved resourceful, it has suffered from the same destructive forces that have pummeled news organizations everywhere. The damage is painfully apparent. In the last 10 years the total number of reporters and correspondents in Colorado media has dropped from 1,000 to below 600, and since 2004 the state has lost about a fifth of its newspapers, including one of its two biggest dailies, according to the Colorado Media Project. Downward trends were present in an otherwise healthy economy, but the financial catastrophe caused by COVID-19 has accelerated decline at news outlets, many of which in recent months have implemented staff furloughs and layoffs.

Colorado Newsline reporter Moe Clark

The primary way Colorado Newsline will fit into the state’s media landscape is by helping to return it to its previously fertile condition. We’re unable to resupply it with 400 reporters. But we are starting with three. And every new set of eyes watching government leaders, every extra observer keeping track of public spending, every additional journalist reporting stories of how official policy affects residents helps ensure readers understand what government is up to and leads to a more enriched community. I am exceedingly grateful to the reporters who joined the Newsline team, because, given their proven talents and professionalism, they allow me to say confidently that Newsline readers will benefit from some of the best journalism Colorado has to offer. Our newsroom includes Moe Clark, previously of The Colorado Sun; Faith Miller, previously of Colorado Springs Independent; and Chase Woodruff, previously of Westword. If you know their past work, you know to expect exceptional reporting from Newsline.

Colorado Newsline reporter Faith Miller

Colorado state government is a sprawling institution of powerful people and offices. The executive branch alone comprises 20 main departments, divisions and offices, in addition to the governor’s office itself. Almost 300 boards and commissions populate this vast public sphere, and they claim authority in such fields as banking, medicine and public utilities. Many of these regions of state government lack due scrutiny, and Faith, Moe and Chase will scout for those areas where more watchdog reporting is warranted.

We also see space for deeper reporting on Colorado courts, water policy, federal regulations of public lands, immigration, health care, social justice, the economy and jobs, the environment, and inequality.

These are some of our ideas about what we can do for you. But the ideas that most interest us are yours. What can we do for you? We invite you to tell us by sending comments to [email protected]. That address is also good for questions and tips.

Our mission is to provide nonpartisan, fair, fact-based reporting. Newsline stories are intended to provide readers with trustworthy information about topics of statewide interest. We also feature a commentary section, which offers staff-written and submitted opinion pieces — which are labeled as “commentary.” Newsline is an affiliate of States Newsroom, a national nonprofit funded by foundations and individual donations. Our stories are free of ads, and they’re available for publication by other Colorado media outlets.

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