Before Susan Greene asked me to contribute editorial cartoons to The Colorado Independent in 2014, I had spent more than three decades as a member of the editorial page staff at The Denver Post. Most of those years were great. But then came the cutbacks, the buyouts, the layoffs. What was happening at The Post played out in scores of major newspapers across the country whose newsrooms were also being gutted. It was disheartening, to say the least. My specific corner of journalism was hit particularly hard. In the 1980s, there were more than 300 editorial cartoonists working at daily newspapers in the United States. Today there are fewer than 60.
Print journalism is not dead yet, but it has a nasty, persistent cancer. Hedge fund owners, as in the case of The Post, demand higher profits. Newspapers depend on advertisers to keep them afloat. As the number of ads decline, management is naturally concerned about offending their deep-pocket supporters. While one eye focuses on their watchdog duties, the other eye is on the bottom line.
And, with waves of staff cutbacks, crucial areas of public concern go unreported.
So, when Susan offered me the chance to continue doing what I love, I was delighted to learn what The Colorado Independent is all about. Yes, it is independent. It is a non-profit, statewide news outlet devoted to holding public figures to account and being a megaphone for those not in power. It is a spunky, tireless, online presence examining issues important to all Coloradans — government transparency, the environment, education, energy, law enforcement, local politics, the impact of national policies on the state.
How does the Indy do it? They have a top-notch collection of veteran journalists along with a dedicated team of young professionals putting out an excellent product every day. They also have you, the reader. Your feedback is part of the process. And your donations have made the whole thing possible.
It is on this point that I am writing you. This Tuesday, December 4th is Colorado Gives Day. NewsMatch, a consortium of foundations supporting non-profit newsrooms, and one generous Indy reader have pledged to match any donation made by December 31. For every dollar you pledge, they pitch in two more. That’s three for one.
I join my colleagues in hoping that you will take this opportunity to support fine local journalism by scheduling a Colorado Gives Day donation today.
Mike Keefe, editorial cartoonist