An open letter from the women of The Indy

Dear readers,

You may not know this about the Indy, but we are a women-led and, largely, women-staffed newsroom. It makes us a rare bird.

The most recent Women in the Media report, released in 2015, found that newsrooms are still predominately male, particularly among the photo staffs, supervisory staffs and editorial boards. Men have more bylines, more camera time, and are more likely to write or report on politics, criminal justice, science, sports or technology. Women are more likely to be writing about culture, education, health, religion and lifestyle.

The report looked at how many stories men were writing and how many women were writing at the country’s top 10 largest newspapers, and found that only at The Chicago Sun-Times did women outpublish men. Number nine on that list of 10: The Denver Post, where 68 percent of the bylines were male and 32 percent were female.

It should be noted that since 2014, when that byline count was undertaken, The Post has named its first female editor-in-chief.

But the overall landscape hasn’t shifted. Still not enough women. Still way too few women of color. And still a woeful lack of women deciding what’s newsworthy.

“Who tells the story is every bit as important as what the story is — and often the former determines the latter,” the report read. “The lack of women in decision-making and prominent positions in the media is the breeding ground for defamatory and sexist coverage and comments, and it lowers the standard of excellence by cutting in half the pool from which talent is chosen. It also results in media missing major stories — and missing viewership.”

It’s a critical point worth repeating: “Who tells the story is every bit as important as what the story is.” For a story to see the light of day in a newspaper, on TV, or on a digital news site, someone in the newsroom must first recognize it to be a story. It is why diversity in all its forms in newsrooms is critical. Because our life experiences, where we grew up, where we now live, our race, our ethnicity, our religion – and, yes, our gender – help us see what others may miss.

At the Indy, who tells the story is Susan Greene, our editor-in-chief, who writes about criminal and social justice in Colorado with the depth and passion few can surpass. Who writes the story is Tina Griego, our managing editor, who returned to this state last summer dedicated as ever to telling complex public policy stories from the ground up, from within the communities affected. Who tells the story is Kelsey Ray, who brings to her reporting on immigration, health care and the environment a dedication to capturing and conveying the concerns and hopes of people often battling powerful bureaucracies and industry. Who tells the story is Marianne Goodland, who has covered Colorado’s state legislature longer than all but one statehouse reporter.

That’s us, in order from right to left, pictured above at The Indy’s all-women’s dance party in November.

At our staff meeting this morning, Kelsey pointed out that today, in recognition of International Women’s Day, some women were staying out of the workforce in protest. Like a “Day without an Immigrant,” the notion behind the action is clear: You cannot even begin to understand all that we do until we no longer do it.

More power to the women who were able to join that protest, Kelsey said, adding: “If we took the day off, there would be no Indy.”

This is not an exaggeration, nor it is a slight to our columnist Mike Littwin or our political reporter Corey Hutchins or our intern Allen Tian. They bring to us their own great strengths. But the show begins and ends with Susan, who took over The Independent four years ago and has worked tirelessly to keep it afloat, to grow it, to make it the must-read news site we envision, to make it the news site this city and state deserve.

We are here today because we are journalists and news doesn’t stop. We’re here today because, gender aside, there are too few of us left in the business and too many stories going uncovered. We’re here because, despite the economic, political and, yes, gender obstacles we’re facing, we’re hell-bent on growing our small but mighty news site into a sustainable news source that speaks truth to all levels of power and amplifies the voices of women and others in Colorado who, all too often, aren’t heard.

You want to support smart, fact-based reporting at a time when a deliberate effort is underway to undermine our industry? You want to support nonprofit journalism when the drive for profit has decimated newsrooms? You want to support a few good women? Support The Colorado Independent with a tax-deductible contribution here. On International Women’s Day and every day, we’re here for you.

– The women of the Indy

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.