Schlichtman: Colorado Journalism Week celebrates, honors working press

Craig Press: To anyone who follows the news, it would appear the industry itself is under attack. Whether claims of “fake news” leveled by the president or cuts to already lean newsrooms, newspapers and media organizations are now in the rare position of making headlines.

The most recent round of layoffs at the Denver Post led to that paper’s editorial board publishing a rebuke of its hedge-fund ownership, which, on Sunday, April 8, became a page 1, above-the-fold story in The New York Times. The Post’s editorial, which ran under the headline, “News matters; Colorado should demand the newspaper it deserves,” was courageous and serves as a rallying cry for journalists around the country and in our own state who fear for the future of their profession. And, more importantly, fear for the future of our democracy if the newsroom cuts the industry has seen over the past quarter century — when one every four positions disappeared — continue.

News organizations now find themselves thrust squarely in the middle of a public debate over the value of news and the role newspapers play in the communities they serve. It’s a conversation every newspaper needs to have with its readers, community leaders, its supporters and detractors; and the Colorado Press Association wants to be the catalyst behind that public dialogue.

That’s why the CPA, in partnership with the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the Colorado Media Alliance, is sponsoring the first-ever Colorado Journalism Week April 16 through 22. The purpose is to celebrate and honor the hard work and ideals of Colorado’s working press and shed light on what is perhaps the most significant challenge our news organizations have ever faced.

The power of community newspapers, whether publications that are monthly, weekly, daily or online only, is often best demonstrated when journalists hold our public officials accountable and demand that government business be conducted openly and transparently. According to industry research, about 85 percent of what could be called “accountability journalism” is produced by newspapers.

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