Our journey in journalism started in the early 1980s, as recent college graduates — me, as a reporter at The Miami Herald, then one of the country’s largest papers; Jerry in the newspaper’s advertising department.
Back in those days, rarely did editorial and advertising departments cross paths. If it hadn’t been for a company softball team, we might never have met.
After we married, we moved to Rhode Island to work for the Providence Journal-Bulletin. After a few years there, we thought: Why not run our own paper? We seemed like an ideal partnership. I had editorial covered; Jerry, the business end.
So we moved to Chicago to run a community paper for a friend’s father — to learn, to see how it felt, to find out whether we could make the transition from larger publications to a hyperlocal endeavor.
We decided we could. And after a year, in 1989, we rode a train to Denver, bought a small paper in Littleton and began a 22-year adventure that has defined much of our lives.
Today, our company publishes 26 newspapers and publications in metro Denver and beyond.
Journalism in any place and at any level — large, medium, small — is exciting and purposeful for those of us who ply the profession. But for Jerry and me, it also has been about our bond to our readers and advertisers. It’s personal. We have cared deeply about the quality of your lives and success of your businesses.
We were called to tell your stories with truth, accuracy, fairness and compassion.
We still remember the excitement of longtime Littleton residents at having local ownership of their paper. They understood, better than us at that time, how important it is for those who run newspapers to know the communities they cover, to understand the historic, social and economic narratives that shape a place and its people.
Between 2004 and 2020 in the United States, at least 1,800 communities lost their local newspapers, according to a recently published report. That leaves these communities without a voice, without government accountability — whether it be schools or city hall — or reliable means to connect with each other.
The death of journalism in any community is a tragedy and a crumbling of our democratic foundation. That’s not happening here because the new owners of our company — a joint partnership between the nonprofit National Trust for Local News and The Colorado Sun — are committed to the same brand of journalism that we have brought you. (Please see accompanying story.)
They are talented, innovative and mission-driven. They will not only ensure the papers’ legacies in your communities continue, but also that community newspapers thrive in new and creative ways. And we ask you — our readers, businesses, advertisers and community leaders — to continue to support them as you’ve supported us.
It is difficult to sum up this journey of ours in a few, good words.
In the beginning, it was Jerry and me and a handful of passionate, part-time freelance reporters working out of a bookshop.
When the opportunity arose to acquire the historic Littleton Independent and two other neighboring papers, we couldn’t find a bank to take a chance on us. Family stepped in and gave us a loan, like any bank, with interest and a strict, no-fudging repayment timeline.
We stepped away for some years to explore other interests. But in 2011, the opportunity to help turn around a group of struggling community papers drew Jerry back. And little by little, more papers, some also struggling, were added. There were those who doubted the wisdom of investing financially and emotionally in an industry many have labeled as dying. And, certainly, some of the papers we acquired no longer had the reader and advertising support they once enjoyed.
But they did have roots, deep roots, some going back more than 100 years —the Golden Transcript, for instance, is 153 years strong. How do you let such legacies go without a fight?
The fight required perseverance, creativity, difficult decisions, a lot of energy for long days and — the key — a small army of editorial, advertising, production and business staff who believed fervently in community newspapers.
Colorado Community Media’s success belongs to its people. Our staff throughout the years has been incredibly talented. They have worked together through good times and bad to deliver the news to you every week. Jerry and I are profoundly grateful for their dedication, contributions — and friendships.
We feel privileged to have helped local businesses achieve direct access to readers. We feel rewarded that we told the stories that otherwise would not have been heard.
There are so many, but a few in recent years include the joyful drive-by pandemic celebration of a woman’s 100th birthday. Economic challenges of local shopping centers. Black students confronted by racism. Comprehensive local election guides. The quest of a man dying of cancer to complete his dream. A year-long look at the state of mental health in one county. Families’ struggles to pay the rent when jobs were lost. High school graduations. And all those triumphs and defeats in our community sports pages.
Jerry and I are leaving for a few reasons: We are nearing retirement. We would like to spend more time with our children and granddaughter. We would like to see what else is in store for us. But we also felt it was time for new energy and vision for our papers and the communities they serve.
We feel fortunate to have found new owners who can bring that.
For Jerry and me, that means we can say goodbye, feeling secure about these papers’ future, and blessed for having had the opportunity to tell your stories.
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