With mass layoffs becoming a regular occurrence at media outlets from BuzzFeed to the Knoxville News Courier, CU Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information seeks to instill in its students a passion for local journalism.
In April 2018, CU Boulder’s Chuck Plunkett, then an editor at The Denver Post, was worried. He had just published a six-page special section titled “As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved,” decrying massive layoffs at the paper and criticizing its owners for losing sight of the paper’s mission. He was unsure of how his bold move would be received.
“When we pulled the trigger on this package, one of my biggest fears was that if it didn’t take—if people just shrugged it off—not only would my career be ruined but the message would die with it,” he said.
There is a tremendous need right now for what we do—asking the hard questions, doing the fact checking and telling compelling stories that help people make sense of their lives. But people also need to realize that if they want good strong journalism in the future, they have got to be willing to support and pay for it.” –Chuck Plunkett
Plunkett resigned from The Denver Post shortly after publishing the April 6 news package, when the paper tried to block another editorial criticizing his paper’s owners.
But his message did not die: Plunkett landed at CU Boulder where he directs CU News Corps, a student-produced investigative journalism program.
The News Corps distributes student-produced news stories, multimedia work and interactive information to Colorado and national media outlets. CU News Corps students have won several awards for their reporting from organizations such as the Denver Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Plunkett, who began as an investigative reporter at small-town papers in Arkansas, tells students that in an age of social media echo-chambers and fake news easily spread via Facebook and Twitter, their work is more important than ever.
“There is a tremendous need right now for what we do—asking the hard questions, doing the fact checking and telling compelling stories that help people make sense of their lives,” he said. “But people also need to realize that if they want good strong journalism in the future they have got to be willing to support and pay for it.”