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Local News in Colorado: Big Picture Solutions

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Local news is in a state of crisis. For over a decade, there has been a steady succession of local outlets closing down, reporters being laid off, production schedules cut, and resources tightened. As a result, thousands of communities across the country have less access to critical information on governance, elections, education, health, and numerous issues specific to their cities, towns, and neighborhoods. This crisis both exacerbates and is exacerbated by systemic inequities in the U.S. media landscape. Many of the communities that have traditionally been underserved by local media are those most affected by its decline.

In partnership with the Denver Public Library and the Colorado Media Project, and inspired by PEN America’s recent report on the state of local news in the United States, and a case study written by Alan Prendergast, join us on Tuesday, January 7 at 6pm at the Denver Public Library for a conversation about the media ecosystem in Colorado and the search for innovative solutions. Moderated by local journalist Corey Hutchins, the event  will feature Prendergast, as well as Nicolle Ingui Davies, the State Librarian for Colorado, Melissa Milios Davis, the Vice President for Strategic Communications and Informed Communities at the Gates Family Foundation, Donna Bryson, Denverite’s housing and hunger reporter, and Laura Frank of Rocky Mountain PBS.

The event is free and open to the public.



Donna Bryson is housing and hunger reporter for Denverite and an author. Her 2018 book, Home of the Brave, recounts how a small American town took on the big challenge of helping military veterans reintegrate into civilian life.  It won second place in the non-fiction book category of the National Federation of Press Women’s 2019 Communications Contest. Bryson is also the author of It’s a Black White Thing, which explores young South Africans’ attitudes about race.  It’s a Black White Thing was shortlisted for the City Press Tafelberg Nonfiction Award, a national South African prize.

Nicolle Ingui Davies serves as the State Librarian for Colorado. Davies holds both a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and a Master’s in Library and Information Sciences (MLIS). Davies returned to Colorado from her position as Executive Director of the Charleston County Public Library (SC), where she designed five new libraries, introduced new technology, and established a progressive service delivery model. Prior to her time in South Carolina, Davies served as the Executive Director of the Arapahoe Library District (CO), during which time she was named Library Journal’s 2016 Librarian of the Year. Before coming to libraries, Davies worked in broadcast journalism and public relations. 

Melissa Milios Davis is Vice President for Strategic Communications and Informed Communities at the Gates Family Foundation. In early 2019, she also took on a new role as program officer for Informed Communities and Local News. Melissa brings two decades of collective experience in communications, journalism, public relations, event planning, and fundraising. Most recently, she served as Director of Institutional Giving for BakerRipley, Texas’ largest community development agency, where she helped agency leaders close a $20 million capital campaign to build a new, 7-acre multi-service community center in a chronically under-served Houston neighborhood. Prior to that, she spent seven years as a director of communications, marketing, public policy, and fundraising for Houston A+ Challenge, a nonprofit organization working to strengthen, innovate, and connect the Greater Houston region’s public schools. Melissa spent most of 2006 as communications director for the school board president of Los Angeles Unified School District (during the tenure of then-superintendent Roy Romer), following a two-year stint as an award-winning education reporter for the Daily Breeze newspaper in Los Angeles. Melissa holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. 

Corey Hutchins teaches in the Journalism Institute at Colorado College, and is the Colorado-based contributor for Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project, which focuses on local news. He is also a contributor to The Washington Post, and he writes a column each week about Colorado media issues for The Colorado Independent. Each Friday, he publishes an emailed newsletter about the goings on in Colorado’s journalism community. A former alt-weekly reporter in South Carolina, he was twice named journalist of the year in the weekly division by the SC Press Association. He has written for Slate, The Nation, The Daily Beast, and The Center for Public integrity, among others. 

Laura Frank is a veteran investigative journalist who leads the duPont-winning investigative team at Rocky Mountain PBS. She is the founder of the I-News Network, the investigative news nonprofit that merged with Rocky Mountain Public Media in 2013, the first such merger in the nation. Laura is a pioneer of collaborative journalism, building an investigative journalism team that specializes in data analysis and research to tell compelling stories that would otherwise go untold—then sharing that reporting with other media outlets to reach the widest public possible. A Denver native who spent 20 years reporting for newspapers, radio, and public television around the country, she came back to Denver to work as an investigative reporter at Rocky Mountain News. She has trained hundreds of journalists for more than a dozen media organizations. Laura was a founding member of the Institute for Nonprofit News (inn.org), a network of more than 200 nonprofit investigative and public service news organizations nationwide, and now serves as its board chair. Her work has won awards in both broadcast and print, and has inspired the public to make changes in laws and lives, including spurring the release innocent people from prison, protecting abused children, and winning aid for sick nuclear-weapons workers.

Alan Prendergast has written for Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, OutsideWestword, and other publications, and teaches journalism at Colorado College.