Davis: Let’s support Colorado’s local newsrooms, essential services in the COVID-19 crisis

Colorado Media Project: As over 5 million Coloradans weather the COVID-19 crisis at home through mid-April, the state’s dedicated local journalists are among the short list acknowledged as essential workers in Governor Jared Polis’ stay-in-place executive order. Each day we open our emails, scroll our social feeds, and receive potentially life-saving stories from the front lines of the crisis — from independent local sources we can count on to separate fact from fiction and hold powerful institutions to account, presented with humanity and grace.

Yet while online news traffic is surging due to reader demand for trustworthy local news and information, Colorado’s newsrooms are running on fumes. Some of this isn’t new: With Google and Facebook gobbling up more than 60 percent of local digital ad revenue annually, the number of journalists in Colorado has declined by 44% between 2010 and 2018, and nearly one in five Colorado newspapers has closed their doors since 2004. Last fall, the Colorado Media Project reported that at least 30 Colorado counties — most of them rural — have been left with only a single source of original local journalism.

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