Catalytic conversation with Laressa Watlington and Paul Voakes

Catalytic conversation with Laressa Watlington, freelance multimedia journalist and former editor of, and Paul Voakes, professor of journalism and faculty director of the Digital News Test Kitchen, University of Colorado Boulder.

We were surprised at how closely aligned our thinking was – Laressa being a practicing journalist and Paul being a longtime educator.

We both foresee, five years hence, a robust journalism system in Colorado that is characterized by partnerships among smaller, not-for-profit news outlets and no longer dominated by a handful of newspapers and stations directed from corporate HQ elsewhere. We see programs like DU and CU working more closely than now with several of these professional news outlets, on both news coverage and longer-term projects. We see the larger mainstream survivors playing greater roles as curators and editors of the journalistic content provided by smaller outlets (who in turn will work with freelance specialists and advanced journalism students) – in addition to curating and editing social media and other citizen-generated news and commentary.

We see the path to that future coming into focus already. Not-for-profit outlets like I-News and Colorado Public News have managed to stabilize financially while providing in-depth reporting about issues important to state residents. They have already formed partnerships with a few of the larger media organizations in Denver. They are using the talents of university students on a limited basis.

We are concerned about the current system’s ability to cover underrepresented communities adequately. As Colorado’s cultural diversity increases each year, this coverage concern becomes increasingly important for community-building and for democratic practices in general. But covering non-mainstream populations doesn’t fit with the logic of corporate media. We hope that the emerging ecology of Colorado media can be inclusive enough to accommodate the information needs of all Coloradans.

We look forward to discussing these issues at Journalism That Matters: “Journalism is Dead; Long Live Journalism.”

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