A project of Democracy Fund
The Local News Lab has been archived as of March 1, 2023. This page will remain online but will not be updated. More info.

Colorado Media Project

The mission of the Colorado Media Project is to meet the information needs of Coloradans by working to strengthen Colorado’s diverse local news ecosystem.

It develops partnerships and programs designed to increase newsroom capacity, support collaboration, and engage community in the journalism that strengthens our democracy. CMP is a grant-funded organization operating under fiscal sponsorship of the Rose Community Foundation with the support of the Gates Family Foundation, Democracy Fund, and other partners.

What the Project Supports

CMP leverages national and local resources in service of local news organizations: “We work as ‘ecosystem builders,’ connecting Colorado’s news organizations and individual journalists with funding, training, technology, and program opportunities that are focused on the ‘three C’s’ — Capacity, Collaboration, and Community — with the goal of improving news and information for Colorado’s diverse communities. While CMP may work with individual newsrooms on particular projects, the organization exists to support the local news ecosystem as a whole, and is agnostic about for-profit and non-profit business models for news.” The Colorado Media Project supports the partnership of more than a dozen public-service newsrooms and journalism support organizations, a misinformation-watch collaboration, and more. Read more about the project’s work on its website.

Why Supporting Local News Matters in Colorado

As the Colorado Media Project’s 2019 annual report states, local news in the state is facing challenges but also rife with potential for collaboration:

“Research conducted over the past few years demonstrates why reliable, nonpartisan local news is so important to communities. When local news disappears or becomes unreliable, fewer people vote and run for office. Polarization increases. Misinformation abounds. We have all seen the impacts of these new realities play out in our fractured and increasingly polarized local and national politics. In Colorado, nearly one out of every five newspapers operating in 2004 no longer exists. The number of journalists working in the state declined by 44 percent between 2010 and 2018, even as the state’s population surged and its economy boomed. Public relations professionals now outnumber journalists in Colorado by an estimated ratio of 10 to 1. 

Despite these depressing developments, CMP’s experiences over the past year leave us feeling optimistic about the future. That’s because while the challenges to local news in Colorado are real, the will to surmount them remains strong. CMP aims to help local news organizations, whether digital start-ups or legacy print publications, battle the headwinds and build toward a sustainable future. To do so, we believe, they must develop the capacity to sustain themselves; they must collaborate rather than compete; and they must strengthen connections with a more diverse range of communities to build trust in local news.”


The project is led by acting director Melissa Davis of the Gates Family Foundation and program manager Philip Clapham. It is steered by an executive committee and local and national advisory committees with support from Democracy Fund, the Rose Community Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, Project X-ITE at the University of Denver, the Bonfils Stanton Foundation, the Membership Puzzle Project, and the Bohemian Foundation. See the project’s full group here, contact the project team here, and sign up for their newsletter here.

Contact Democracy Fund at localnewslab@democracyfund.org and sign up for the Local Fix, a weekly newsletter about big ideas for local newsrooms.

Read more about efforts to support Colorado’s news and information ecosystem: