Can Digital Multimedia Fill the Colorado Void?
Community groups join forces to investigate the future of Colorado media
The University of Denver’s Project X-ITE announced today it is teaming with the Gates Family Foundation, the Boston Consulting Group and community leaders to develop a business plan and prototype for a sustainable, scalable independent statewide digital news medium for Colorado.
Spurred in part by the continued decline of daily newspapers, the project’s participants will use an Open Innovation process to engage a broad range of community members through the summer. By September, the project aims to produce and publicize a viable business plan and prototype that reflects market opportunities and community needs.
“There have been numerous conversations throughout the community over the last several months. It is clear that there is a belief that a robust independent journalistic presence is important to the health of our community,” says JB Holston, dean of the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Denver. “Our goal is to add to the discussion about the future of journalism in Denver and Colorado and create more options for how Coloradans obtain news.”
Over the course of the next three months, a broad range of community members, including current and former journalists, will participate in what is known as an “Open Innovation” process, engaging in highly agile, quickly iterative processes to consider and develop prototypes and to test new approaches for digital journalism.
“The project is designed to complement and strengthen existing initiatives to develop innovative ways to deliver important civic and investigative news content to the public,” Holston says. “The participants will ‘open source’ what is learned, so everyone in the community can benefit from the findings.”
Project X-ITE has managed similar processes over recent years, including a two-day conference in May that cultivated ideas for Smart Cities and the Flight to Denver program, held one year ago, that the University ran with the United Nations, the UN Foundation, and six other Colorado universities.
Participating in Project X-ITE’s Pioneering Summer program, student company Cultivo Media will help execute the open innovation process. Cultivo will prototype a digital information platform to rapidly engage a large Colorado audience that will potentially serve as a model for other regions. Cultivo Media specializes in digital marketing and product development, working with a range of clients to build new experiences and technology suites from the ground up.
“DU and the Project X-ITE team are honored to be partnering with the Gates Family Foundation, the Boston Consulting Group and others in this important community process,” Holston says. The Boston Consulting Group, which has an office in Denver, is a global management-consulting firm that works with clients from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges and transform their enterprises.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with the Gates Family Foundation, the University of Denver's Project X-ITE team and the wider community to address the ever-changing media landscape and aim to transform digital journalism on a state-wide level," says Scott Stemberger, a senior partner in BCG's Denver office.
“Strong, independent local media is vital for communities to thrive and civil society to function. The loss of the Rocky Mountain News and rapid decline of the Denver Post have created a void,” says Tom Gougeon, president of the Gates Family Foundation. “Many people, including a number of talented journalists, are searching for ways to fill that void. We are excited to support an effort to develop creative, collaborative solutions to strengthen the local news ecosystem in Denver and Colorado.”