The past few weeks have put an intense focus on the role of the media. In an age of fake news and claims by some that the truth doesn’t matter — that it doesn’t even exist anymore — what can a responsible citizen do?
I can tell you what we are doing at Chalkbeat: We are doing our work.
That meant, on Nov. 9, sending reporters to schools to capture stories of students showing up in tears, worried that their loved ones may be deported. It meant chasing every vote in a hard-fought State Board of Education race that will help determine Colorado’s course on education policy for years. It meant examining whether private school vouchers might fly here.
On social media and elsewhere, there has been a flood of support recently for large national news organizations, both in the form of donations and subscriptions. This is great to see. But I would argue that the most vital journalism happens at the local level. And it is local journalism that is most imperiled by the economic forces that have battered the news industry in recent years. You can see it in the diminished newsrooms of newspapers of all sizes and the decimated ranks of statehouse reporters.
Yet the decisions made closest to home are the ones that have the greatest impact on people’s lives. That’s why Chalkbeat journalists attend community meetings, school board work sessions and legislative committee hearings that run deep into the night.
Increasingly, we are partnering with news organizations that once would have been considered competitors. They are republishing our work, which allows them to focus their limited resources elsewhere.
Chalkbeat is committed to providing deep, smart, independent journalism in the community we call home. That mission includes documenting how events at the national level have an impact here in Colorado.
That word — impact— is important to us. We want to write stories that make a difference, that inform conversations, that inspire action.
Over the past year, we have done that.
We used public records and dogged reporting to shed new light on a Denver school board appointee, prompting a policy change that bought more transparency to the voting process and leading one board member to thank us for holding the board accountable.
Our reporting uncovered faulty data on school discipline, calling into question the credibility of a report that trumpeted an uptick in discipline rates and causing the state to make a correction in the case of one district.
We exposed a secret meeting of the Colorado State Board of Education at a posh private club, a story that led the state Department of Education to hold a training session for the board on open records and meetings law.
Now more than ever, we need your support to do this work. Will you make a tax-deductible donation today?
Eric Gorski is bureau chief of Chalkbeat Colorado