Our next chapter

The Indy is moving away from a daily news site as its editors focus on collaborative journalism throughout the state

Tina Griego, Mike Littwin and Susan Greene (Photo via Susan)

Dear readers,

We told you last month that big changes are underway as the Indy joins forces with the Colorado Press AssociationColorado Media Project and newsrooms throughout the state. We told you our new alliance, Colorado News Collaborative, or COLab, is a movement to foster journalistic collaboration and excellence at a time when resources in this business are scarce — and growing scarcer. Today, as some of the last pieces of the partnership fall into place, we have details on what will change on our site and with our team starting next week.

If you didn’t see it this morning, Mike Littwin announced in his column that he’ll be joining The Colorado Sun next week after nearly seven years at the Indy. The Sun, as many of you know, is a daily site launched nearly two years ago by some of our talented former Denver Post colleagues, and it has emerged as a trusted source of in-depth, statewide news. We’re happy for Mike, for the Sun and for you longtime Littwin fans. You’ll continue to find links to his Sun column on our site through the summer.

Mike’s move is, of course, bittersweet. Each of us and Mike moved to Colorado within a year of each other in 1997 and 1998 and have been working together – Mike and Tina at the late, great Rocky Mountain News and all three of us at the Post and the Indy – for more than two decades. Together, we have covered more elections, edited more of each other’s stories and columns and engaged in more late-night news rants than we care to count. Together, we gave readers an alternative to corporate media at a time when Colorado sorely needed it. And together, over years of ups and downs, we – and, by extension, our families – have woven a bond that transcends news brands. We’re grateful for that.

Another big change as we move away from a daily news site: The Indy’s thoughtful statehouse reporter, John Herrick, and Forest Wilson, our former intern who has grown into quite the resourceful correspondent, will be ending their stints with us. Both have worked their butts off and grown tremendously as reporters. They are also just good human beings. We’ve been moved by their talent, commitment and decency, and will miss them both.

The two of us, along with Alison Cooper, the Indy’s administrative director, are embarking on a mission born of the belief that we have more to offer by sharing with other outlets what makes the Indy’s journalism so powerful than by maintaining a daily news outlet of our own. We are, in both the literal and figurative sense, taking our show on the road, reaching out to newsrooms across Colorado to help them report and write stories with statewide impact that they may not have the time, ability or people power to do alone. We’ll be providing training along with that reporting with the shared goal of strengthening local news. Stronger newsrooms mean a better-informed public, and a better-informed public is what these times demand.

It will take time to build these newsroom partnerships, so, as we do, we also will be reporting from and about communities and issues that need more attention. We’ll be bearing witness to how the COVID crisis is affecting Coloradans, their livelihoods and mental health, their civil rights and politics, their safety nets and plans. We’ll be reporting from news deserts, checking in with the state’s most vulnerable communities, and we’ll be looking for ways to connect our work to newsrooms and communities across Colorado. We’ll keep you in the loop with a regular newsletter so you may join us and the conversations we’re having along the way.

When you come to our site this spring and summer, you’ll find stories from us, from our partners such as Sandra Fish, who is helping journalists and the public root out viral misinformation, and Jeff Roberts, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s public-records and open-meetings watchdog. You’ll find the early fruit of our reporting partnerships. We’ll be highlighting journalism from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope, from valley to mountain and points in between. You’ll still be able to read Corey Hutchins’s media column as he tracks massive changes to Colorado’s media world. And our guest posts aren’t going anywhere, so please keep submitting.

Think of the work for the next several months as the bridge that will take the Indy and you, our readers, toward journalism that serves a wider range of Coloradans, tells untold stories, reports in-depth collaborative pieces like “Through the Cracks,” the award- winning investigation into a police shooting in Rangely that Susan worked on last year in partnership with the tiny Rio Blanco Herald Times. It’s the kind of journalism that has impact beyond the borders of a city or a town, the kind of journalism that holds power to account and helps inform the policies that affect your lives.

Come fall, this journalism will live on a new COLab site, along with our own reporting and our archives. The Indy site in its current form will go dark, but our reporting will continue, our partnerships will deepen, the training will go on as will the outreach to you because you are a key part of this new venture. You are the engaged, informed reader we need by our sides because you know news. You know what we might be missing. You see and hear what we may not. You have always had our backs in this regard, and we hope will continue to do so.

Public relations pros might frame our new mission as innovative – the first alliance nationally between a nonprofit news team, a statewide press association and an organization dedicated to the understanding that local news is a public good. They would not be entirely wrong. The mission is innovative. But it is also practical, a wiser, more strategic way to marshal the strength of newsrooms across the state and to buttress the weaknesses. And it is also an experiment. As journalists, we never really know what a story is going to become until we start reporting it. The same holds true here. We ask for your patience as we transition our work to serve all Colorado news outlets. And we ask for your support as we and journalists throughout the state reinvent ourselves, once again, to keep you informed and connected to your fellow Coloradans.

We send you gratitude, as always, and our very best. We can’t wait to get rolling.

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