Something pretty remarkable happened last Thursday in Denver on the third floor of the Buell Public Media Center, COLab’s home base.
As about 100 people gathered, a lively (and thirsty and hungry) crowd of journalists and community members, we launched the first-ever online statewide source guide to Coloradans from diverse backgrounds, people willing to share their experiences and expertise with local reporters. The guide, which we are calling Amplify Colorado, also includes journalists, so community members can find and reach out to them.
Maybe you are wondering, “What’s so remarkable about that?”
Let me count the ways.
First, for a long time now, local newsrooms have said they want to do a better job of reporting the stories of Coloradans from backgrounds that the journalism industry has a history of ignoring or maligning or writing about in the most superficial ways. Those diverse backgrounds run the gamut, from communities of color to those who live in rural Colorado or are gay or veterans or immigrants or live with a disability.
Second, for even longer than that, too many years to count, people who belong to these communities have been asking, no, demanding, that local news coverage include their lives and perspectives in ways that are fair and that reflect their humanity and dignity.
Third, over the last couple years, COLab helped bring together Black, Latino, Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Indigenous people with journalists who identify as part of those communities to ask one another, ok, how do we accomplish this together? What’s required to forge the kind of relationships that lead to the trust that leads to the coverage that builds understanding among all Coloradans? These community groups came up with a guide that lifts their own expertise and that allows them to more easily connect with one another. Amplify comes out of their vision. Its creation was supported by generous funding from Colorado Media Project. It was put together by your hardworking team here at COLab with a huge assist from Spotlight PA, a nonprofit newsroom with its own guide.
Fourth, journalists are creatures of habit and deadline. We tend to call the same people, particularly from communities of color. On Thursday night, as we displayed the growing-as-we-speak guide of sources and journalists, it became obvious how great the range of experience and expertise exists among people we have too long pushed to the margins. The well of insight runs deep. And we have just been tapping the surface. I have to say, seeing the gallery of what is now more than 100 community members and journalists up on screen was a really proud moment.
Amplify represents opportunity. It represents the potential for equitable coverage. It offers connection. If you identify as part of a community that has been historically underrepresented in local news, this is your chance to join the Amplify community. If you are a journalist — no matter your background — the same call goes out to you, too. If you are neither, please support this work. Share with people you think should be in the guide. Sign up is quick.
Amplify is a beginning. It is a tool. It has to be used. It has to be maintained. Ultimately, we seek local news coverage that includes the many worlds that fill our state and the people that give it its vibrancy.
Join this work. It is a movement for both journalists and communities alike.
This post was sent as a letter to our email subscribers on Thursday, Sep. 28, 2023. Join our email list to learn more about COLab and the work we are doing.