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Read All About It

A letter from the editor of 5280's May 2019 issue.

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Longtime Denverites have witnessed a profound change in the media business. We watched one major newspaper disappear (the Rocky Mountain News) more than 10 years ago, and we’re seeing in real time the dismantling of another major daily (the Denver Post) as its hedge fund owners cut costs to keep profit margins up. For anyone who cares about accountability and oversight of the public and private institutions in our city and region, this is unequivocally a bad thing—and yet, there is a troubling disconnect among news consumers as a whole, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. “Even amid declining revenues and staffing, about seven-in-ten Americans think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially,” the study reported. But when it came to actually supporting the industry, just 14 percent of adults said they had paid for local news in the previous year. This month’s feature “Are We Witnessing a Digital News Revolution in Denver?” by Michael Behar, grew out of a desire to understand how several online-only local news outlets—many of which happen to be run by Denver Post expats—are funding their newsrooms in these challenging times and attempting to reach consumers who appear to be ill-informed about the health of journalism. Behar’s narrative tells the coming-of-age story of these startups, which are testing different business models in an effort to revitalize local media. So far, they’ve made a valiant effort; however, the biggest question may be less about whether Denver’s shrinking pool of journalists can deliver credible news in digital-only formats and more about whether Coloradans are willing to pay to read it. That’s the part of the story that’s still being written.

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