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DENVER — On Monday, News Voices: Colorado and its Black Voices Working Group announced a series of recommendations to address the harms that local-news coverage has inflicted on Black people across the state.

The recommendations grew out of meetings held among Black leaders, storytellers, journalists and funders that focused on how to improve access to trustworthy news and information for Black residents throughout Colorado. The recommendations were announced today with the publication of The Time Is Right Now: A Call to Action for Antiracist and Just Local News. Written by the Black Voices Working Group, the report illustrates tangible ways for communities, newsrooms and funders to acknowledge and address these historic and ongoing harms.

News Voices: Colorado is a Free Press initiative that works in collaboration with the Colorado Media Project and the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab). Over a series of planning meetings involving the Black Voices Working Group and other local advocates and community leaders, the organizations explored how Colorado newsrooms and foundations can better serve and reflect the needs, realities and concerns of Black residents. The report examines ways that Black Coloradans can gain greater voice and more meaningful power in local coverage and considers steps to strengthen access to critical information for Black Coloradans.

“If the overall goal is to survive and thrive as a Black person in this country, the conversation must progress from seeking justice for the killing of the next Mr. Floyd or Ms. Bland to not having to seek justice at all because it never happens again,” said Gloria Neal, a Black Voices Working Group member and former Denver-based news anchor. “From the micro to the macro, racial aggression must be called out and corrected. FULL STOP. Today, we are a long way from that world. Black voices everywhere should be saying, ‘the time is right now,’ for a long time to come.”

“The Black Voices report is the result of the dreams, needs and demands of the Black Voices Working Group,” said Diamond Hardiman, the News Voices: Colorado manager. ”This living call to action is for communities, newsrooms and funders concerned and invested in the project of centering, valuing and nourishing Black voices. Although News Voices: Colorado and other collaborators lead this particular process, my hope is that Colorado communities feel ownership and agency to use this report as a tool to further the goals of creating news media that is more equitable, safe, powerful and useful for Black communities.”

The Time Is Right Now report proposes recommendations for Colorado-based media, including acknowledging how local-news coverage and media institutions have negatively impacted Black Colorado communities, conducting an audit of Colorado media to identify how often Black voices are featured and on what topics, and dedicating more resources for reporting that uncovers, examines and provides solutions for issues that disproportionately impact Black Coloradans.

To coincide with the launch, News Voices: Colorado will be presenting a series of events this week:

Tues., Sept. 21, 5:30–7:30 p.m. MST: ‘The Time Is Right Now’: A Community Conversation with Black Voices. Four working-group members will discuss the recommendations in depth; this will be followed by a conversation about how communities, newsrooms and funders can put them into immediate action.

Wed., Sept. 22, 12:30 p.m. MST: Free Press will host a Facebook Live conversation with Diamond Hardiman about the Black Voices project. Tune in here.

Fri., Sept. 24: Community spotlights and a call to action: Follow Free Press’ Twitter page to learn how Black-serving and -led community organizations are answering the working group’s calls to action — and how you can join the effort.

For more information, read The Time Is Right Now: A Call to Action for Antiracist and Just Local News and “Black Voices Will Forge the Future of Journalism,” an accompanying blog post written by Hardiman and Black Voices Working Group member Tashan Montgomery.

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