Colorado Newsline at 1 year old
We couldn’t have succeeded without your support
Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area in Colorado is the site of mountains shaped by volcanic fire and glacial ice. Multi-colored rock strata, diverse vegetation and quick flowing streams evoke a fairytale beauty. (Bob Wick/BLM/Public Domain Mark 1.0)
We launched on July 1, 2020, at a truly terrible time. There were street clashes over racial injustices. A pandemic was killing Americans by the thousands. The country’s leadership was a lying crew of grifter authoritarians. Vast swaths of the electorate were coming under the sway of ludicrous conspiracy theories like a national bad trip. The wildfire season was just beginning to develop into the worst in state history, a fearsome demonstration that climate change was not some future threat but a present crisis in the life of every Coloradan.
Starting something new at that moment was daunting. In a business that derives so much benefit from in-the-field work and face-to-face interactions, we at Newsline were mostly precluded from meeting people. We could barely meet each other, and when we did meet we were masked, and live interactions were brief. Not an ideal way to establish a team.
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And it was an odd time to start a news site. Throughout the country journalists were losing their jobs and being sent home on furlough as already-struggling outlets skidded off the cliff of COVID economics. Those reporters who were able to keep their jobs faced physical threats at political rallies, police brutality in the streets, and character assassination courtesy of the president of the United States.
American media in some ways was disintegrating before our eyes. As we noted when we launched, between 2008 and 2019, newsrooms at U.S. newspapers shrunk by 51%. Just over a decade ago, Colorado’s two main print dailies had about 500 journalists covering Denver and the state. The figure had shrunk to well below 100 before the pandemic, which only further undercut the industry.
But into the void of depopulated newsrooms have come organizations with fresh ideas about how to produce news — the nonprofit Colorado Newsline is one of them. Amid layers of troubling events in society and numerous challenges to the media, we devoted ourselves to the timeless journalistic values of fair and accurate reporting, and we adopted the tagline, “Start with the truth.” The only way to fulfill our mission was to employ the best reporters.
And that brings me to the best thing about Newsline — our journalists.
Chase Woodruff, Faith Miller and Moe Clark were the outlet’s founding reporters, and each remains on the team. They have much to celebrate on Newsline’s one-year anniversary. In the past 365 days they broke numerous stories, provided invaluable coverage of the 2020 election, reported on issues important to traditionally underserved communities and established a consistent record of trustworthiness. With just half a year’s worth of stories eligible for submission, the team earned seven awards in the 2021 Top of the Rockies contest, sponsored by the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
We also feature insightful commentaries. Trish Zornio, our sole regular columnist, has become an influential voice on top Colorado issues. As the rare journalist who is also a scientist, Zornio in the past year wrote authoritatively about the coronavirus in a way very few other commentators could.
Through our first year, we were sustained by readers who believe that leaders in government should be held accountable and that an informed citizenry makes for a healthy democracy. As a nonprofit, Newsline would not exist without reader support. We sincerely hope our reporting has enriched your life as a resident of Colorado, and we humbly ask for continued support as Newsline enters its second year.
The world on July 1, 2021, does not seem quite so in crisis as it did when we launched. But there is no less need for fair, accurate and dogged reporting. We at Newsline commit to building on the foundation we laid in the last year to deliver further essential journalism in the next one.
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