We are members of the faculty in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information, and we support the current and former employees of The Denver Post who have taken a courageous stand against years of needless cutbacks on journalism in our state.
As the headline of Sunday’s Denver Post opinion page reads, “News matters.” We agree. Our public university’s educational mission is unattainable without strong news media to serve the common good and to inform the next generation. It is time for leaders in the news media—together with the institutions of higher education that help prepare future journalists, leaders and citizens—to ensure that journalism can continue to flourish in this vibrant, growing state.
Coloradans know all too well how short-sighted cuts to community journalism harm both the common good and future business prospects for next-generation media. Consolidation has meant the elimination of longstanding institutions like the Rocky Mountain News and the end of competitive news markets in many communities. Digital First Media, owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, controls the Post and 17 other publications throughout our state, from Boulder’s Daily Camera to the Cañon City Daily Record, and a portfolio of 80 other newspapers nationwide. Savings from layoffs at a profitable news operation such as The Denver Post extract from our community for Alden Global Capital’s benefit and subsidize its losses in other industries. This business model profits from Coloradans’ support for journalism more than it supports journalism for Colorado.
News organizations around the world demonstrate strategies for more accountable, appropriate forms of ownership. The New York Times operates under the control of a mission-driven family. The Guardian is owned by a not-for-profit trust. When owners flee the difficulties of digital transition, major publications in Greece and Argentina have converted to employee ownership. Audience-backed public broadcasters such as PBS and NPR are consistently among the most trusted news sources in our country. We created the first new college at CU Boulder in 50 years to meet the needs of a changing media, communication and information landscape; part of this involves cultivating ownership models committed to sustaining serious journalism.
“Colorado should demand the newspaper it deserves,” said Sunday’s Denver Post opinion page. As faculty members in Colorado’s public university system, we hereby answer that call. We stand with those at the Post who are speaking out.
Lori Bergen (Founding Dean, College of Media, Communication and Information)