News organizations in Colorado will soon get some extra legal firepower to fight wrongful denials of access to government records and proceedings.
Fewer professional journalists in Colorado – the total dropped nearly 44 percent between 2010 and 2018 – means fewer reporters at government meetings where important civic issues are discussed and decided. But some help may be coming from a three-year-old program that trains and pays people to monitor public officials in Chicago and Detroit.
A free and independent press is fundamental — it is essential — to American democracy at all levels. But knowing that is precisely why Coloradans must begin a conversation about alternative ways to fund local journalism — even ways that involve public dollars.
Journalists in Colorado would have stronger, but not absolute, protections against being compelled to reveal confidential sources and unreported information under an amendment to a reporter’s shield measure proposed by the bill’s sponsor.
State Sen. Bernie Herpin quoted 18th-century English judge William Blackstone in explaining his reasons for introducing a bill to strengthen the Colorado law that protects a journalist’s confidential sources.
Motivated by the ordeal of a Fox News reporter, who could have been jailed for refusing to reveal sources for a story on the Aurora movie theater gunman, Sen. Bernie Herpin says he wants to model Colorado’s press shield law after New York’s law.
A Gazette investigation into a secret spy program at the Air Force Academy was one of three recent news stories that had nothing in common, except the vitally important fact that none could have been reported in such detail, or perhaps even reported at all, without the state and federal laws that ensure your rights of access to public information.