A Community-Focused Approach To Colorado News

September 22, 2016

There’s a new energy flowing through the newsroom at Colorado Public Radio. Through a series of projects, editors and reporters are delving more deeply into topics of ongoing importance in the state, and exploring new avenues to engage Coloradans and hear their stories. 

Expanding community outreach

As part of this work, reporters are asking community members for input to uncover stories that aren’t being told and explain key issues from all angles.
  
“Short-term reporting often cannot address the complexity of these questions,” said CPR News Vice President Kelley Griffin. “By investing our resources into these projects over time, we can paint a fuller picture of Colorado’s most pressing issues.”
 
Coloradans collectively cover a lot more ground than our reporters ever could, which is why the CPR newsroom is eager to involve community voices—those affected by issues we’re covering and those who can alert us to what’s happening in the state. The newsroom is still seeking out communities most affected in the usual ways - phone calls, meetings, research - but also connecting through the social media channels where Coloradans gather to exchange ideas. 

What we’ve been working on…

This new approach was initiated in 2014 with a long-term reporting project that explored Colorado’s high rate of childhood poverty, its impact on our society and possible solutions. Throughout the series, coverage of factors contributing to childhood poverty touched every corner of the newsroom, from policy and education to healthcare and affordable housing. CPR journalists wrote more than 70 stories and spoke to dozens of people from all over the state to gain a fuller perspective.

Grace Hood Mesa Verde Selfie
Energy and Environment Reporter Grace Hood traveled to Mesa Verde to talk with folks about climate change in Colorado's national parks.

CPR News is on a quest to understand how these issues affect Colorado communities by drawing from the accounts of community members who’ve experienced the effects first-hand, joining conversations and sharing stories via social media.

“When you talk about arts funding, it brings up other questions around important topics like the economy, education and infrastructure,” said Arts Reporter Corey Jones. “We want to know what people think about the artworks and programs they encounter. Does it add to your experience? Is it worth your tax dollars?”

PublicArts Community Engagement
Cathleen Lovette of Commerce City shares her thoughts about this RTD-commissioned sculpture as part of our long-term reporting on public art in Colorado.

CPR reporters are working hard to involve community members directly and represent diverse points of view. “One of the most important sources for our coverage is our audience and the individuals I talk to as I’m traveling around the state,” said Energy and Environment Reporter Grace Hood. “I love hearing from people and getting story ideas. The range of suggestions has been incredible, from big thorny issues about water supply to back yard questions about unusual squirrel behavior.”

Through the lenses of climate change and public arts, these reporting projects are helping listeners understand Colorado better.

CoreyJonesSelfie
Arts Reporter Corey Jones on assignment in Colorado Springs to learn about the city's grassroots arts scene.

While journalists will continue to seek out the voices of those affected by these issues through traditional channels, CPR News is also leveraging digital outlets more than ever to access diverse perspectives across geographic boundaries.

Griffin explains, “We can still find communities in person, yes, but now we have vast opportunities to reach far more people online, interact, and find out what stories we’re missing. It’s a much richer relationship.”

Join the conversation…

What you share gives us a wider view of Colorado’s diverse communities. What do you want to know about climate change and public arts in Colorado? Help enrich Colorado Public Radio reporting on these and other important topics:

Explore recent coverage on climate change and public arts funding and stay tuned for more on this work, and specific stories at cprnews.org.