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.
OUR EDITORIAL POLICY
The word “independent” in The Colorado Independent is key to our work. We practice journalism as a public trust and subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News:
The Colorado Independent retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We value the importance of maintaining a firewall between news coverage decisions and all sources of revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their opinions, products or services.
We accept donations, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our news gathering and other activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of financial support.
The Independent may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but we maintain editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or control of editorial content.
We will make public donors who give a total of $1,000 or more per year. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with INN’s membership standards.
Read our Code of Ethics here.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit funded solely by grants and tax-deductible donations. For a list of Colorado Independent donors, go here.
OUR DISTRIBUTION POLICY
Steal our stuff. Post it far and wide. Give us credit.
The Independent was founded in 2006, part of the Washington, DC-based American Independent News Network. The site was re-established in 2013 as a wholly independent entity run in Colorado by Coloradans.
P.O. Box 201074
Laurie Hirschfeld Zeller, publisher
A lifelong news addict, Laurie has held management positions with the National Civic League, the Bell Policy Center, and the bi-partisan statewide ballot campaign, Yes on Referenda C and D. She has served as executive director of two Denver-based nonprofits as well as vice president for community initiatives and investment for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. Most recently a consultant for nonprofits and foundations, she built a national education initiative for Rocky Mountain PBS. In joining The Independent, Laurie decided to stop complaining about the state of the news industry and start building it instead.
Susan Greene, editor
A recovering newspaper journalist, Susan reported for papers in California and Nevada before her 13 years as a political reporter, national reporter and metro columnist at The Denver Post. “Trashing the Truth,” a series she reported with Miles Moffeit, helped exonerate five men, prompted reforms on evidence preservation and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative journalism. Her 2012 project, “The Gray Box,” exposed the effects of long-term solitary confinement. The ACLU honored her in 2017 for her years of civil rights coverage, and the Society of Professional Journalists honored her in April with its First Amendment Award. Susan and her two boys live with a puppy named Hymie whom they’re pretty sure is the messiah.
Tina Griego, managing editor
Tina was a city columnist for the late great Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post. She left Denver for Richmond, Virginia in 2012 and learned the joys of news editing at the city’s alternative newspaper, Style Weekly, and its premiere city mag, Richmond Magazine. She was also a staff writer for the Washington Post and its Storyline public policy/narrative journalism project. Tina is now living in Fort Collins with her husband and two kids. She’s a native New Mexican and prefers red over green.
Mike Littwin, columnist
Mike says that before you start counting, he’s been doing this for a while. He’s written news columns, sports columns, features columns, op-ed columns — everything but home-and-gardening columns — for The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun. His first job was covering the Virginia Squires and Dr. J in the late, great American Basketball Association. Since then, he has covered much else of what there is to cover, including one Tour de France, two NBA all-star games, three vice-presidential debates, four presidential inaugurations, five Olympic Games, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. He and his one wife have one daughter who teaches law at the University of Texas, not that you should hold it against her.
Mike Keefe, editorial cartoonist
Mike Keefe, a longtime staffer with The Denver Post, was the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Among other honors, he has won the National Headliner’s Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Medal, The Best of the West Journalism Contest and the Fischetti Cartoon Competition. Nationally syndicated, his cartoons have appeared in Time, Newsweek, Business Week, US News and World Report, The New York Times, The Washington Post and hundreds of newspapers and digital news outlets across the country. Keefe served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and was a Knight Fellow at Stanford University. He is the author of three books and co-creator of two nationally-distributed comic strips. A former U.S. Marine and a doctoral student in mathematics, Keefe plays guitar regularly with local oldies cover bands. He is married with two grown children.
Corey Hutchins, reporter
Corey Hutchins is a journalist for The Colorado Independent and a correspondent for Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project. He recently worked on The State Integrity Investigation at the Center for Public Integrity and has written for Slate, The Nation, and The Washington Post, among others.
Alex Burness, reporter
Alex cut his teeth as the Boulder Daily Camera‘s city hall reporter and, prior to that, as an education reporter at the Loveland Reporter-Herald. He’s interested in city issues, governance and homelessness, and he once spent two months investigating the suspicious death of a backyard rooster. Alex is a Maryland native who’s lived in Illinois, Chile and now Denver.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 301-787-4148 | @alex_burness
Jacqueline St. Joan, news poetry editor
For Jackie, journalism was the road not taken. Instead, she chose law. She worked in Denver as a lawyer, judge, law professor and child advocate for thirty-five years. She has a Masters in creative writing and has won writing awards including a poetry prize from the Denver Press Club. William Carlos Williams wrote: “It is difficult to get news from poems yet men (sic) die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” Poets, she says, can fill in some of the blanks of what isn’t found in the news, but that you know is there, anyway.
John Herrick, freelance reporter
John covered the 2018 legislative session for The Colorado Independent. Previously, he wrote for another nonprofit online news organization, VTDigger.org, covering the energy and environment beat. Between reporting stints, he likes to be outside. He’s been variously employed as a trail builder, tree feller, stoat trapper and photographer.
John@coloradoindependent.com | 603-724-0508 | @Herrickjohnny
Mark A. Castillo, digital and engagement editor
Mark got his start as a website development and sales entrepreneur before graduating college. Forging his own path into the world of digital marketing, he has helped a long list of clients with creative direction, conversion/growth strategy, online presence, and digital client-relationship development. He has a wife, 3 kids, 2 guinea pigs, a Russian hamster and a cat. Mark is not a journalist or a writer by profession. But, man, people sure do love his Facebook posts.
Mark@coloradoindependent.com | 720-785-4198
Rachael Long, reporting intern
Rachael Long is a multimedia journalism student at Southeast Missouri State University. A native of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, she comes to the Independent after having served as an editor and staff writer for her college newspaper, an intern and freelancer for the Southeast Missourian and an intern at the Denver Business Journal. Rachael has a passion for long-form and investigative journalism. She worked on “The Impact Zone,” an in-depth report detailing the opioid epidemic in Southeast Missouri. She also covered the scandals surrounding embattled former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. She’s a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and looks forward to a career where she can continue writing pieces on social and international issues, civil rights and politics.
Shannon Mullane, reporting intern
Shannon is a master’s student in journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She specializes in environmental and political reporting and multimedia storytelling. Shannon moved to the Denver metro area from East Tennessee intending to stay for three months — four years later, she’s still finding new things to explore. She covered the Boulder city council election and local environmental issues for CU Boulder’s graduate publication, Under the Flatirons. As a staff writer for the CU Independent, Shannon worked on “The Trump Effect: Immigration at CU,” a series that connected national immigration policy to the lives of local students. Passionate about investigative and long-form journalism, she intends to keep digging into the immigration, environmental and political stories in the Front Range.
email@example.com | 865-851-5792 | @ShannonMullane
Zay Reyes, intern
Zay is the programming director for Colorado State’s student-run radio KCSU. He is entering his third year at CSU in pursuit of his Bachelor’s in Journalism and Media Communications, and minor in music stage and sports production. Zay was born and raised in the North Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico but fell in love with this Colorado after his first visit to Durango in the eighth grade. When he finds spare time, he enjoys indulging in his passions for photography, basketball and yoga.
Derek Slusser, intern
Derek Slusser is a senior at Colorado State University and is a lot less qualified than the rest of the Indy’s staff. He studies Political Science as well as Journalism, and lives by a motto of “fake it till you make it”. He has big dreams of creating his own publication, being POTUS, and going to outer space.
You can follow him on Twitter here: @dslussser
Drew Smith, intern
Smith is a senior at Colorado State University, seeking a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations. He has spent the last three years studying branding and is ready to put the Independent on the map. As a Colorado native, he couldn’t be more excited to be back in Denver.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Holly Armstrong, ArmstrongInk
Dan Fletcher, Beacon founder
Ann McCabe, consultant, business development, digital transformation and leadership
Durham Monsma, former newspaper publisher and Times Mirror executive
Adam Mordecai, Editor-at-Large, Upworthy.com
Jane Potts, creator of projects for the arts, nonprofit organizations, community development, business and education
and Susan Greene, non-voting member
OUR ADVISORY BOARD
Karen Ashmore, co-founder, Ashmore Duval Consulting
Dr. Patty Baca, community activist and former DPS administrator
Wanda James, cannabis entrepreneur
Owen Loftus, Former-Colorado GOP communications director, political communications consultant
Ed Marston, former editor, High Country News
Jim Ridgeway, award winning national journalist
Andrew Wallach, former finance director for the City and County of Denver
Nancy Watzman, veteran campaign finance researcher
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