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DENVER — On Tuesday, Free Press launched News Voices: Colorado, a collaboration with the Colorado Media Project and COLab to ensure that communities across the state have access to the information they need and are represented in the stories being told.

The project comes as Colorado newsrooms are facing new waves of layoffs, budget cuts and takeovers from corporations and hedge funds. At the same time, journalists and communities across the state are looking for better ways to collaborate and are innovating to keep the public informed. News Voices: Colorado will work with newsrooms and residents to co-create new initiatives to meet community-information needs, center community voices and promote sustainability in local media.

More information about News Voices: Colorado is available here.

News Voices: Colorado builds on years of Free Press organizing and media-making within and beyond Colorado. Using community-organizing tactics the News Voices team has implemented in New Jersey, North Carolina and Philadelphia, the Colorado project will foster trusting relationships between community members and reporters.

To begin, News Voices will host a series of statewide conversations on some of the most pressing issues facing Colorado communities, including climate change, local pandemic misinformation and racial injustice. Organizers will also work alongside several communities in the state to build collaborative projects, led by local residents and journalists, in response to their needs.

On Wed., Aug. 26, at 11 a.m., Free Press will convene a conversation about the initiative between News Voices: Colorado Manager Diamond Hardiman and the Colorado Media Project’s Philip Clapham.

Hardiman made the following statement:

“We’re thrilled to be working with the Colorado Media Project and COLab to expand and deepen our relationships across the state, and to work with local partners to build a better future for local news. The goal of News Voices is to strengthen connections between newsrooms and communities to build a healthier news ecosystem across Colorado and tell meaningful stories that speak to people’s concerns. We believe the future of quality local journalism lies in these sorts of collaborations.

“This work comes during a time of heightened crisis: We’ve seen widespread newsroom closures across the state, journalist layoffs and vulture-capitalist takeovers of local media. And now, at the height of a global pandemic, racial-justice uprisings and rampant misinformation, Coloradans need trustworthy local news more than ever.

“By strengthening connections between newsrooms and communities, we can amplify the voices of Coloradans from all walks of life while supporting local journalists. Community members are best suited to name their own information needs and tell their own stories — defining themselves on their own terms to help chart a new way forward for local news.

“Through community conversations, journalism trainings, newsroom-community partnerships and other ways of making media platforms more accessible and accountable, News Voices: Colorado will inspire Coloradans to harness their collective power. This power can bring about communities that center equity, prioritize healing and leave space for the continuous expansion of what we dream to be possible.

“We also seek to find sustainable solutions to Colorado’s local-news crisis. News Voices’ work in New Jersey led to a state law providing financial support for local, independent news and information production. For Colorado communities to thrive, we need to work closely with journalists to report our most important stories and use those stories to create positive change. This change can provide a roadmap to new resources for supporting stronger local news.”

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