Inside the News: ‘Fighting to be Seen’ — Colorado AANHPI Community Members Call for ‘Just Local News’

  • Corey Hutchins is a journalism instructor at Colorado College and a contributor to Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post, and other news outlets. This column is produced with support from the Colorado Media Project, and is distributed statewide via the Colorado News Collaborative.

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The Voices Initiative is out with a new report for Colorado — this time about Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders here and their recommendations for local media.

The initiative, which launched in 2021, is a project led by Colorado News Collaborative in partnership with Colorado Media Project.

The latest report is the culmination of a working group of community members and AANHPI journalists, and it follows previous recommendations from the “Black Voices” working group and the “Latinx Voices” working group. (The “Indigenous Voices” working group is in the works.)

From this latest AANHPI working group report’s executive summary:

For the Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Voices Initiative, a group of 30 people of different ethnicities and backgrounds, the undercurrents were as complex as the communities themselves. Inescapable was the rise of anti-Asian rhetoric as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Former President Trump’s repeated references to the “China virus;” the use by media of images of Asian people in stories about the coronavirus; the random, brutal attacks upon Asian Americans, including the murders of Asian women in Atlanta, were prominent features of news coverage. Each represented an ongoing and traumatizing assault upon a community’s psyche. …

No community is a monolith and Colorado’s Asian communities are so diverse that even choosing the umbrella term for the group — Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander — was an evolving process. Census Bureau data tells us that the five largest communities within the AANHPI community in Colorado have Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Filipino ancestries. But at least 30 AANHPI ethnicities, speaking many dozens of languages or dialects, are represented in this state

So, how did those who participated characterize how they feel about representation in Colorado’s local media?

“In three words: Underrepresented. Overlooked. Oversimplified.”

Members of the community “have historically been invisible in the mainstream media, unless it’s an explosion of hate crimes or a bunch of 12-year-old geniuses going to Harvard who are all Asian American,” said the Japanese American journalist Gil Asakawa in the report. “Even then, it took a year after the hate crimes sparked by the pandemic before mainstream media paid attention.”

Colorado newsrooms must find ways to reach younger audiences who “never watch the news and are never going to see themselves in something they don’t watch,” said Meta Sarmiento, a Filipino poet, rapper and educator.

Another excerpt:

Working group members also called upon philanthropy to continue to help newsrooms build pipelines of talent in communities of color through journalism training, to help provide resources for staff and story audits as well as online directories that will allow newsrooms and community members to more easily find and speak to one another.

Not least in all these efforts is the role of the community itself, working group members said. If the goal of the Voices Initiative is that communities of color share power over who tells their stories and how, and if the demand is to see themselves reflected accurately and fairly in coverage then they, too, must reach out to newsrooms to build relationships. They must find ways and receive the support needed to tell their own stories. They must challenge inaccurate or biased reporting.

Like the previous Voices reports about Black and Hispanic Coloradans, this one came with a list of recommendations for “newsrooms, community members and funders and other institutions.” They are:

  1. “Establish ongoing connections with Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Coloradans.”
  2. “Increase Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander representation in newsrooms and in coverage.”
  3. “Represent culture and history intentionally and accurately.”
  4. “Invest in translation and adapt media formats to reach younger and older generations.”

“Participation in the Voices Initiative is part of a trajectory of advocacy and activism that has always been present in the stories of Colorado’s ethnic and racial minority communities fighting for accurate representation,” reads the report, written by COLab’s Tina Griego. “The call for trustworthy relationships between community and newsrooms — that foundation of deeper, more nuanced and meaningful local news coverage — has been persistent.”

Colorado’s report on the AANHPI community here comes as others elsewhere are studying misinformation and disinformation in Asian American communities.

Last week, in New York City, the Center for Community Media’s Asian Media Initiative Director Kavitha Rajagopalan presented preliminary findings from an “in-progress research into the AAPI community media landscape” as they put together a “national AAPI media map and directory.”

During a recent CCM workshop, Rajagopalan said while AAPI communities don’t lack for news to report or resources to share, what they really need is “accurate, reliable, culturally relevant and in-language local journalism,” according to an update.

Read the entire recent Colorado report involving AANHPI community members and its full recommendations for media here.

Following layoffs at Outside, cycling journalists start their own outlet

After the Colorado-based Outside Inc. media behemoth jettisoned jobs and closed titles, some who wrote and reported for it decided to head out on their own. Together.

This week, Jason Blevins of The Colorado Sun detailed how some of the cycling world’s top journalists have created a new outlet.

From the story:

In its first 24 hours of selling $99-a-year memberships, the Escape Collective has enlisted thousands of subscribers, said Caley Fretz, a Durango-based cycling journalist who co-founded the new venture with editor Wade Wallace, who founded the influential Cycling Tips in 2008 and left his creation last year. 

“I think there is a groundswell of support for this type of media,” said Fretz, who has enlisted eight full-time reporters in the Escape Collective, most of them Colorado-based but focused on cycling worldwide. “We saw this need and this huge trust gap in cycling media and we thought we could find a solution. This is our answer.”

Blevins reports that “most” of this new outlet’s staff and nearly 20 contributors “are refugees of Outside Inc.,” the Boulder-based media company that “last fall let go 54 of its more than 500 employees and scaled back printed magazines as it grappled with declining advertising revenues and tightening venture capital markets that sustained its meteoric rise in 2020 and 2021.”

The piece details Outside’s turmoil and includes reporting from a recorded online fall meeting with hundreds of employees following the layoffs, “which The Sun obtained from multiple sources.”

Some nuggets from the story:

  • Company CEO Robin Thurston “asked employees to better support the company’s ad sellers and focus on keeping Outside Plus subscribers onboard, noting that the company loses ‘a lot of customers’ who had already signed up.”
  • “The shifts at Outside Inc. fueled the creation of Escape Collective, but, Fretz said, ‘this is not a middle finger looking backwards.’”
  • “Too much reliance on advertisers and affiliates — or gear makers who pay cycling magazines for including links back to their products — ‘has created a kind of fraught relationship that doesn’t end up working well for readers,’ Fretz said.”
  • “‘The end result is the trust problem,’ he said. ‘It looks like the media is funded by people trying to sell them stuff and that creates a vicious cycle that leads the reader to think that the content they are consuming is not fully transparent. Our answer to that is to turn straight to the audience as an effective way to drive revenues.’”

Read the whole thing at the link above.

Speaking of Outside Inc. …

In November, The Denver Post’s outdoor writer John Meyer reported that Conor Hall, who is director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, “said state officials are in discussions with Outside to partner in major ‘programs’ he’s not ready to divulge.”

Meyer had quoted Hall saying:

“Having an innovative mind like Robin, and having a group like Outside housed here in Colorado that really has become a major leader in the outdoor media space, is huge. They are an aggregator of so much within the industry, they have a gravitational pull that is good for Colorado.”

I caught up with Hall over the phone this week to see if he could shed any more light on that four months later. He said there were a couple different partnerships — one of which he couldn’t speak to yet — but one he could. Somewhat.

Coloradans can expect a recreational gear-testing lab involving CU Denver, the City of Denver, and Outside Inc., he told me. The hope is that with a multifaceted public-private partnership they can develop less-expensive high-quality gear testing for smaller brands. He said there would also be an education-workforce-development component involving students. He said he hoped Outside might provide communications and brand education and added that they have a “pretty serious” gear-review focus.

“In the way we’re looking at this, it’s not the state giving money to Outside,” Hall said. “It’s the state investing in this project at CU Denver.” He added that the partnership is still coming together.

It doesn’t appear to be the first time public funds intermingled with outdoor media in Colorado.

The development reminded me of a 2021 item in this newsletter about how Blister, an outdoor equipment review publication that is “committed to elevating the level of conversation in outdoor media,” benefits from a local marketing district that Gunnison County voters approved as a ballot measure nearly two decades ago.

Ex-Denver Post Editor Greg Moore: ‘Get smart people in a room’

This week, former Denver Post Editor Greg Moore appeared on the What Works podcast out of Northeastern University.

Journalism professor Dan Kennedy and former Boston Globe Editor Ellen Clegg host the show that examines the future of local news.

Moore, who Kennedy described as one of the most prominent Black editors in the country when he led the Post for 14 years, was previously Clegg’s boss at the Globe when he worked there as metro editor before moving to Denver.

Some takeaways from their discussion:

  • “One of the things that’s been super disappointing to me — and I’ve talked about this as much as I can in public forums — is how white these new digital upstart organizations are,” Moore said. “Go on their Contact Us page and you go like ‘Damn, is this 1950 or what?’ … there is some age diversity … and there’s some gender diversity … but hardly any racial diversity or ethnic diversity.”
  • Moore said he is looking forward to “the second generation of leadership” that will embrace diversity and highlight different voices.
  • He said he was “trained to believe” there is no role for taxpayer-funded journalism, but after a breakdown in the advertising-supported model for local news he no longer thinks that way. “A lot of the purists act as though the advertising model was sacrosanct, that it was perfect,” he said. “We had to construct walls between the advertising side and editorial side and it was always being probed — always — and sometimes it was being breached. So it wasn’t some perfect model.” He said he is not as worried about “some government official” trying to influence coverage if a news organization receives public funding. “Let’s get smart people in a room,” he said about how to erect proper guardrails.
  • While Moore said many print and digital outlets have gone all-in on collaboration in Colorado, “unfortunately I think we’re going to have to rely on some of our broadcast partners to get into the mix,” adding, “that has not really happened here and elsewhere around the country.”

Asked about Moore’s media diet, he said he subscribes to The Denver Post (“I always will”), The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post (he said he thinks it’s covering race better than any other publication), The Guardian, podcasts like The Daily or ones at NPR, and subject-specific ones about crime or other issues.

More with less: Colorado’s Alden papers shuffle editing duties

Prairie Mountain Media has slashed by a fifth its editing team at a string of Colorado’s hedge-fund-owned papers.

“The consolidated team has four instead of five editors, with positions and duties adjusting to align with the team’s goals,” one of its news organizations reported this week.

The move came after Boulder Daily Camera Senior Editor Julie Vossler-Henderson took a job at Colorado’s Alden mothership The Denver Post where she is deputy city editor.

From the report:

John Vahlenkamp, senior editor of the Longmont Times-Call and the Loveland Reporter-Herald, has taken on Vossler-Henderson’s duties at the Camera. He oversees the daily operations and newsrooms of the three newspapers, plus those of two weekly publications, the Broomfield Enterprise and Colorado Hometown Weekly.

“We rearranged — organized — the editing structure to best use the editing resources we have,” Vahlenkamp, a longtime editor with the paper, said in the report. “Julie’s departure opened up this opportunity to restructure our editing staff.”


Mitchell Byars, breaking news and courts reporter at the Daily Camera, and Michael Hicks, editor for the Broomfield Enterprise and Colorado Hometown Weekly, were promoted to deputy city editors of the Daily Camera and Times-Call, plus the two weekly publications, all of which are produced out of a single newsroom. Their job entails overseeing day-to-day coverage, rotating day and night editing desk duties.

The shuffle sounds like it will add more work for Christy Fantz, “previously features editor for the Times-Call and the Daily Camera and editor of the former Colorado Daily” who will “keep her role as features editor and add production of the Broomfield Enterprise and Colorado Hometown Weekly to those duties.”

Fantz said in the announcement that she hopes to expand the arts and entertainment coverage at both papers.

Wanting to hear from you about equitable internships in Colorado

Colorado Press Association, with support from Colorado Media Project, which underwrites this newsletter, is working on a project this year to develop recommendations about the journalism workforce development pipeline and equitable internships in our state.

If you’re a news organization that hosts interns, a higher-ed institution with an internship program, or anyone in Colorado with thoughts or insights about initiatives that are working or what might be done better, we want to hear from you.

I’m helping conduct research on this issue, so reply to this newsletter or email me directly at coreyhutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

More Colorado media odds & ends

🤺 Today, the progressive nonprofit Colorado Times Recorder site reported that it launched a campaign of digital ads that “punch back” at The Denver Gazette’s attacks ads against The Denver Post inhopes of starting a newspaper war” (I hope to have more about it in next week’s newsletter).

💥 Stephanie Daniel, who is senior managing editor and reporter at KUNC in Northern Colorado, is one of 26 “journalism changemakers” in this year’s Online News Association Women’s Leadership Accelerator cohort who will receive leadership training and coaching.

📌 Check out the Colorado News Mapping Project and fill out the form to add a source of news and information you rely on to the map or let us know if we should update something already on it.

☀️ Applications are open for The Colorado Sun’s 2023 Rise and Shine teen workshop “designed for middle and high schoolers across the state” who will learn “how to find stories, interview sources, master storytelling, photograph subjects and more.” (Spread the word about this far and wide.)

🌱 Jonathan Rose, who “built the cannabis beat at the Denver Business Journal,” has launched a newsletter called Regulated State that provides “biweekly deep dives into Colorado’s cannabis industry.”

🇷🇺 Russian journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov spoke last week in Colorado Springs and Denver. Colorado College student Zeke Lloyd wrote about Muratov’s talk in the Springs.

📈 “Viewers tell us every day what’s important to them, and we go out and we get answers on that,” 9NEWS Anchor Kyle Clark said in an interview with the libertarian Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara. “We have not seen the volume of viewer comments, questions — the volume of viewer interest on any subject — as we currently see about high energy prices and why they are so high. … I would say not since the start of the pandemic have people been so fixated on one issue, and they want to know more about it.”

🎬 Julian Rubinstein’s investigative documentary about Denver, “The Holly,” got The New York Times treatment. “It’s all a heady brew that leaves one wanting to know even more about [Terrance] Roberts, who is now running for mayor in Denver,” wrote Nicolas Rapold.

📰 Chase Woodruff at Colorado Newsline interrogates and complicates a media narrative that is gelling around the race for Denver mayor, weaving in stats and data, and piercing through rhetoric. He doesn’t let some local media off the hook, either. (Do a Command F for Eagle County in the piece.)

📢 Black immigrant media outlets “seek to raise the ‘voices’ of their communities despite challenges,” reported Stephanie Daniel for KUNC.

⚰️ Bob Ewegen, who worked for The Denver Post from from the early 1970s to the 2010s, died at 77 after a battle with cancer. “He ultimately became assistant editor of the editorial page, a position which he held until his retirement in 2008,” an obituary read. His “award-winning work at the Denver Post was well-known for its insight and humor. He frequently wrote the Post’s political endorsements.” (A post at the liberal ColoradoPols blog stated Ewegen “commented here for years under the name “Voyageur.”)

📱 “Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is asking a Tennessee judge to order TikTok to release internal communications as part of a nationwide investigation into the popular video platform and its possible harmful effects on young people and their mental health,” The Colorado Sun reported.

⚖️ “Lying under oath is a serious felony, but Colorado has seen few perjury convictions in recent years,” wrote lawyer and former Denver District Attorney Craig Silverman in an opinion column.

🗣 Judge Bryon M. Large, who oversees the discipline of Colorado attorneys, signed a misconduct censure order against lawyer Jenna Ellis, who represented former Republican President Donald Trump, Colorado Newsline reported. “The public censure in this matter reinforces that even if engaged in political speech, there is a line attorneys cannot cross, particularly when they are speaking in a representative capacity,” stated an order from the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel at the Colorado Supreme Court.

✂️ Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper company that owns two regional papers that bookend Colorado’s Front Range, “shed nearly half its workforce” since its monster mega-merger with GateHouse, Axios reporters Sara Fischer and Kerry Flynn reported this week.

📚🚫 The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition will hold a March 16 conversation about book banning for Sunshine Week. Rachael Johnson, the Colorado-based attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is moderating. Register in-person here or to view it online here.

🏔 The Pinnacle, the student publication of Arapahoe Community Collegewill be “hosting a panel on local journalism in April.”

I’m Corey Hutchins, co-director of Colorado College’s Journalism Institute. For nearly a decade I’ve reported on the U.S. local media scene for Columbia Journalism Review, and I’ve been a journalist for longer at multiple news organizations. Colorado Media Project is underwriting this newsletter, and my “Inside the News” column appears at COLab, both of which I sometimes write about here. Follow me on Twitter, reply or subscribe to this weekly newsletter here, or e-mail me at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.