Colorado Media Matters shutters, national group eyes expansion

Colorado Media Matters — the sole state-based outlet of a national, liberal nonprofit that takes the media to task for “conservative misinformation” — shut its doors this week so its parent organization could determine how to efficiently expand into other states, The Denver Post first reported Wednesday afternoon. The shake-up will allow Media Matters to determine “if we can find a more efficient way of doing this,” editorial director Bill Menezes told The Colorado Independent.

“I feel like I’m losing a stalker girlfriend,” said frequent Colorado Media Matters target Jon Caldera, who heads the libertarian Independence Institute and hosts a radio show on 850 KOA, in an interview with the Post.

“Colorado was kind of the pilot project for how do we export the Media Matters model to focus on a single state,” Menezes said. Last fall, Media Matters also tried doing “more centralized monitoring” of the news in several cities across the country from its national offices in Washington, D.C., “with pretty good results,” he added.

Ultimately, Menezes said, the organization decided to close down the state office and create a “hybrid model” to expand into other media markets without duplicating Colorado’s extensive operation. “Given the amount of work that went into launching Colorado and the amount of work staffing it the way they have — it’s a huge undertaking,” he said, adding that Media Matters concluded that it “can find a more efficient way of doing this.”

Media Matters launched a Colorado Web site in June 2006, roughly two years after the national site went live, and regularly hammers the local news for the way events are portrayed. Some recent headlines still up on the Colorado site:

Click the image to go to read the Colorado Media Matters' critiques.
Click the image to go to read the Colorado Media Matters' critiques.

The Colorado office employed five staffers who pored over newspapers, television and radio broadcasts and posted detailed critiques. Menezes will continue with Media Matters as a consultant, he said, helping the national organization figure out how to expand into other states.

The Colorado site will likely be redirected to the national site, and subscribers to the local e-mail newsletters will have the option of receiving national updates, Menezes said. The Colorado site’s archives are expected to remain online, he said.

And as for Caldera, who likely won’t merit the same level of scrutiny from critics based in Washington: “To tell you the truth, I hardly ever heard his radio show,” Menezes said. “It was on too late at night.”

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