The Voices Initiative

The Voices Initiative

How do we transform local news so that it’s more inclusive and better serves all?
How do we transform local news so that it’s more inclusive and better serves all?

About the Initiative

In early 2021, Coloradans from across backgrounds, generations, regions and professions began meeting to tackle a series of questions: What would it take to ensure that local news coverage reflects, respects and reaches out to the state’s communities of color? What actions must newsrooms, community members and funders take to create a future in which communities of color share and shape the power of local news media?

The Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) in partnership with Colorado Media Project, and with the support of multiple co-sponsors and community liaisons, has convened community-led working groups to support an effort to answer those questions and push for action.

This work has given birth to four separate but related projects centering the voices of Black, Latinx, Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous Coloradans that continue to engage journalists and non-journalists to spark more questions, ideas and plans of action that will take us into a future where the media’s power is shared and expanded by communities of color. We invite you to read the recommendations and join upcoming events that can lead local newsrooms to center the stories, experiences and information needs of all Coloradans.

The Four Voices Projects

AANHPI Voices

Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander & Native Hawaiian Voices

Starting in March 2022, several Asian community leaders began co-facilitating a series of conversations to gather information on improving access to trustworthy news and information that accurately reflects the realities of Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Coloradans.

These conversations, hosted by the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) and Colorado Media Project (CMP, a consortium of foundations) are a part of the larger Voices Initiative that started in 2021 with separate Black and Latinx conversations, each of which came up with recommendations on what needs to change (see Black Voices here and Latinx Voices here).

In 2022, COLab and CMP are dedicated to creating spaces to listen to and engage with members of Colorado Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities including journalists, community leaders, organizers and philanthropists from across the state to identify best practices, practical supports, structural changes, and potential projects that can lead local newsrooms to center the stories, experiences, and news and information needs of Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Coloradans.

The goal, much like the Black and Latinx Voices groups, is to come up with recommendations for concrete projects or system improvements that COLab (with its 170+ newsroom partners) and CMP can help implement. By gathering Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander leaders across the state, the recommendations generated by the working group will be supported institutionally through CMP, COLab and other project partners. 

Following are the preliminary recommendations: 

  • Give serious consideration to language differences and translation. Know language is a barrier and invest in translation.
  • Represent culture and history accurately. Research and learn what makes each community and its members unique and different, and make their history and distinctions known. 
  • Increase the number of Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander stories in news media. Write context-filled human interest and include community in everyday stories, not only during holidays or special events.
  • Enhance representation in newsrooms.Hire more Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander journalists and give them a real voice.
  • Establish long-standing connections and effective communication loops. Be intentional and consistent with community engagement and cast a wide net to ensure the ethnic representation reflects a variety of communities and voices. Create directories for community sources and media contacts.

A full report with the final recommendations will be released publicly and available on this site in January/February 2023.

Kickoff Event

Watch — AANHPI Open House

On the anniversary of the 2021 Atlanta shootings, Asian Avenue Magazine’s Annie VanDan, Asian Pacific Development…

Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Voices Community Liaisons

  • Annie Guo VanDan, journalist and President of Asian Avenue magazine,
  • Frances Campbell, President and CEO of Asian Chamber of Commerce Colorado
  • Gil Asakawa, journalist and publisher of Nikkei View
  • Joie Ha, Founder of CORE consulting
  • Sara Moore, Executive Director of Colorado Dragon Boat

Indigenous Voices

Indigenous Voices

The Colorado News Collaborative and Colorado Media Project co-led a series of conversations throughout the Summer of 2022 with Indigenous leaders, journalists and storytellers across Colorado to identify best practices, practical supports, structural changes, and potential projects that can lead local newsrooms to center the stories, experiences and news and information needs of Indigenous Coloradans. These conversations took place with the support of Tara McLain Manthey, a former journalist and Colorado-based nonprofit consultant.

Much like the Black, Latinx and Asian, South Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander working groups, the goal was to come up with recommendations for concrete projects or system improvements that COLab (with its 175+ newsroom members) and CMP can help implement.

Initially, two affinity groups of Indigenous community members came together through three separate sessions to explore how local news coverage reflects, respects and reaches diverse Indigenous communities in Colorado. The first group included leaders of Indigenous-led and -serving community organizations who have a deep understanding of the barriers community members face to well-being. The second was a space for Indigenous journalists, communicators and storytellers with experience working in local media and communications. Each group met separately and then they came together for a third joint session. 

A second phase of the project  took place engage voices from Colorado’s Southwest Indigenous communities and tribes and include their perspectives.  

A full report with the final recommendations will be released publicly and available on this site in the first quarter of 2023.

Following are the preliminary recommendations: 

  • Improve access to information. Extend newsroom practices and coverage beyond Black/White perspectives to include Indigenous peoples to counter invisibility and stereotypes.
  • Prevent harm to Indigenous communities. Protect the safety of Indigenous people by considering unintended effects of coverage, staffing and community interactions, including training staff on anti-racism practices and asking for permission before publishing photos and cultural events.
  • Build relationships and engage with communities. Practice consistent and responsive contact and make hearing from Indigenous voices an editorial priority. Create contact lists for reliable reporters and producers statewide.
  • Improve representation within news media. Have dedicated Indigenous journalists working in mainstream news media and support professional development to get them into positions of leadership. Also, pay community members to contribute content and report on their communities.
  • Increase capacity through funding. Build capacity within community-based organizations in media relations by funding communications efforts and staff and support technical assistance for media training, copywriting, editing, etc.
  • Create and support Indigenous-led news organizations and content. Support the creation of Indigenous fellowship organizations and independent grassroots media.

Indigenous Voices Consultant & Community Liaison

  • Tara McLain Manthey, Owner and Principal at Returning Light Consulting
Black Voices

Black Voices

In early 2021, News Voices: Colorado — a collaboration among the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), Colorado Media Project and Free Press — convened the Black Voices Working Group. The group, made up of Black leaders, storytellers, journalists, funders and community members, focused on how to improve access to trustworthy news and information for Black residents throughout the state and sought tangible ways for communities, philanthropy and newsrooms to acknowledge and address the harms — historic and ongoing — local media coverage has inflicted on Black communities.

The Black Voices Working Group developed five key recommendations, detailed in its report, which can be found below: ‘The time is right now:’ A call to action from Black Coloradans for anti-racist and just local news.

The original Black Voices conversations and resulting report took place as part of News Voices: Colorado — a project of Free Press in collaboration with the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) and Colorado Media Project.

Reflections

Black Voices Community Liaisons

  • Ammiee Brown, Associate Marketing Strategist at Ogilvy
  • Natalie Williams, Director of The Wellbeing Blueprint at The Full Frame Initiative
  • Philip Clapham, journalist and Senior Editor at 5280
  • Tiya Trent,  Program Facilitator at Project Voyce

Latinx Voices

Latinx Voices

In the spring of 2021, a group of Latinx Coloradans from across generations, regions and professions began meeting to tackle a series of questions: What would it take to ensure that local news coverage reflects, respects and reaches out to the state’s Latinx communities? What actions must newsrooms, community members and funders take to create a future in which Latinx communities have the power to prevent the media from sidelining, stereotyping and silencing them?

Our conversations took place as part of News Voices: Colorado — a project of Free Press in collaboration with the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) and Colorado Media Project. The organizations convened the working group to support a community-led effort to answer those questions and to push for action. History has proven that without community pressure, newsrooms — like most institutions of power — are slow to change.

The Latinx Voices working group developed 4 key recommendations, detailed in its report, “‘Think Big. Act Now.’ A call to action from Latinx Coloradans for equitable and just local news.”

The original Latinx Voices conversations and resulting report took place as part of News Voices: Colorado — a project of Free Press in collaboration with the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) and Colorado Media Project.

Reflections

Impact

Silvia Solis, Community Engagement Director for the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), is leading this project in collaboration with other partners. 

Reflections

Related Opportunities

This project was made possible through unprecedented collaboration between dozens of newsrooms and journalists across the state, who are active partners in the Colorado News Collaborative, or COLab.

To support the statewide effort, donate to the Colorado News Collaborative.