Generous Gift from the Gates Family Foundation Helps Fund the Colorado Media Project
University of Denver’s Project X-ITE continues as CMP’s host
The Denver area had over 500 journalists working for two Front Range newspapers 10 years ago. Now there are fewer than 70. The Colorado Media Project (CMP) was founded in 2018 to research and address the local news desert problem in Colorado. Over the summer, journalists, philanthropists, and other community members joined forces with University of Denver students, faculty, and staff to research the problem and find new solutions.
“We were proud to have the University of Denver’s Project X-ITE as the host and platform for this critical community innovation exploration last year,” Dean J.B. Holston of the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science said. “And we’re excited to join with many others to announce the second phase of the Colorado Media Project. The Project has become a model for communities across America rallying in support of the critical – and endangered – public good that is local journalism.”
The Colorado Media Project’s ongoing mission is to foster innovation and help local journalism organizations become sustainable, through a broad-based, community effort that draws on local and national expertise. Through more than $1 million in founding gifts from the Gates Family Foundation and the Democracy Fund, the next phase of the project’s work will begin. DU’s Project X-ITE will continue to administer the Project. “X-ITE is thrilled to be part of this cutting-edge innovation into the future of journalism,” said Project X-ITE’s Executive Director Marty Katz.
CMP’s new Acting Director is Nancy Watzman. As a Denver resident for the past two decades, Watzman works at the intersection of technology and journalism with such nonprofit organizations as the Internet Archive and the Sunlight Foundation.
“Trust in our democracy and in media is at all-time lows, but local news can be key to rebuilding it,” Watzman said. “Yet local news organizations are facing enormous challenges just staying in business. We need to rally the community and do a lot of creative and practical work to strengthen local news to meet the needs of all Coloradans. I’m excited to get started.”
As has been the case since the Project’s founding, philanthropists, business and civic leaders and concerned citizens are welcome to join this ecosystem-building work. The primary measure of the Colorado Media Project’s success will be an increase in the amount, quality, relevance, sustainability, inclusivity, and accessibility of Colorado’s local journalism, community news, and information.
“The Colorado Media Project gives our students the opportunity to work on data visualization, research, and app development projects that support local news,” said Lynn Schofield Clark, chair and professor of media, film and journalism studies. “In partnership with the Project, our faculty are also bringing together journalists and journalism researchers from around the state, sparking conversations we hope will lead to new collaborations designed to address issues in the news landscape.”