Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), a coalition of 60 Colorado newsrooms, released an interactive voter guide this month featuring articles from across the state about Colorado ballot measures, state house and senate elections, and U.S. senate and house races.
The guide can be sorted by media outlets — which include large newsrooms like Colorado Public Radio or the Denver Post but also local outlets like the Durango Herald or the Longmont Leader — or by topic or location.
COLab is an independent organization that works with newsrooms statewide to provide resources, mentorship, and a network of journalists from newsrooms.
The voter guide is the latest project from COLab that aims not only to support local journalism in small towns but also to amplify the voices of the people who live there.
For example, if you search the keyword “abortion” in the voter guide a story from the Colorado Sun explaining Proposition 115 is displayed along with stories from KBUT in Gunnison and the Pagosa Daily Post in Pagosa Springs.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, COLab lead a project called COVID Diaries which was published by the Denver Post, the Colorado Sun, and Colorado Public Radio. From Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) discussing what it’s like to work from home to employees of an Ouray animal shelter who talk about how they have to deal with COVID-19, the project used local journalism to share how Coloradans from all over the state were adjusting to the pandemic.
In a Columbia Journalism Review article by Colorado journalist Corey Hutchins, COLab’s director Laura Frank said COLab’s collaborative model might help local journalism survive.
“I think it is the only way forward,” Frank said in the article. “I think the writing is on the wall for every platform. It is just going to continue to become more and more difficult to try to be everything to everyone. It’s just not going to work. And no one has the capacity to cover everything that needs to be covered. And it’s not coming back.”
The Colorado Independent was one of the founding members of COLab. Its editors, award-winning journalists Susan Greene and Tina Griego, transitioned away from everyday reporting and now give advice and mentorship to reporters from newsrooms that belong to COLab.
Griego, in an interview with Editor & Publisher, discussed how she is hoping COLab can help the media landscape in Colorado.
“We have to figure out how we can benefit from a model of scarcity,” Griego told Editor and Publisher. “We don’t have as many reporters as we did. We need to figure out how to keep informing the public, so some of this marriage is by necessity, and some of this is really creative thinking about how a print organization could work with a radio organization so that we are working on stories that matter to our audience.”
“This is just another way to make the toolbox a little bit bigger with limited resources,” She said.
COLab is funded by the Colorado Media Project, which is partially funded by grants from the Gates Family Foundation. COLab’s other projects include: the involvement in recruiting an attorney to work full-time as an advocate for Colorado journalists pro-bono; the Misinformation Watch Colorado campaign; and the #FollowTheMoneyCO campaign.