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Colorado Public News begins fundraising to bring a public source for in-depth and investigative reporting to Colorado

DENVER – November 2, 2009 – Colorado Public Television, KBDI Channel 12, announced a partnership today with journalists to develop a news website and on-air news program focused on in-depth and investigative reporting focused on Colorado.

“The proposed venture – Colorado Public News – is responsive to the reduction of significant investigative journalism that has occurred nationally and locally with the shrinkage of news staffs in print and broadcast media,  including the closure of the Rocky Mountain News,” Wick Rowland, president and CEO of Colorado Public Television, said.

“All Colorado citizens – and public broadcasting viewers and listeners, in particular – are keenly aware that the watchdog function of investigative journalism and first-rate reporting are critical to the survival of a democracy,” Rowland said.

Ann Imse, a long-time, award-winning investigative reporter with the Rocky Mountain News, is the prime creator of this news project and will serve as editor-in-chief. Imse brings a background as a successful entrepreneur and as a business and economics reporter and will use that experience to concentrate on the project’s immediate challenge: finding revenue to support the journalism.

“Since traditional advertising isn’t funding in-depth journalism, we are choosing the PBS model of producing great journalism and asking for tax-deductible donations to fund non-profit, public journalism,” Imse said.

The nonprofit approach is springing up in other cities, Imse said. “We will succeed because we have the significant advantage of Colorado Public Television covering most of our overhead.  We will not ask citizens to pay twice for creation of a 501c3 nonprofit, for web servers, office space, broadcasting capability and libel insurance.  Coloradans will get double duty out of the donations they make,” she said.

A prototype website at www.kbdi.org/news provides sample in-depth coverage of one timely issue: “No health insurance, now what?” The prototype site also is being used to collect donations for start-up funds and to identify volunteers for the project.

When Colorado Public News achieves an initial funding goal of $400,000, reporters initially will publish an in-depth or investigative report on at least one major issue each week. Award-winning journalists will lead the effort, using words, video, photography, graphics and links to tell the stories on the web and later in prime time on Channel 12.

“The idea of such a news project has been a core part of the Colorado Public Television strategic plan for some time,” Rowland, said. “We are delighted to be working with Ann and her team of experienced journalists and videographers in a common commitment to disciplined reporting and editing about significant political and social issues.”

“The discussion of public affairs and journalism is not new to Channel 12,” said Kim Johnson, station vice president of broadcast operations.  “Journalists have been frequent guests and panelists on the station’s prime time public affairs programs, and we will continue to be introspective about the status of journalism in the community,” she added.

This Wednesday at 8 p.m., Studio 12 host Tamara Banks will welcome Imse, Westword’s Michael Roberts and Colorado Independent’s Wendy Norris in a Channel 12 discussion about the evolving news and media. The live call-in program encourages viewers to telephone and join the discussion.

Similar interactivity will be a key component of Colorado Public News as Imse describes social media tools that will encourage readers and viewers to join the discussion with the project’s journalists.  This will be the public’s news site with readers actively engaged in the discussion and suggesting stories, Imse explained.

“Remember, without investigative reporting,” Imse challenged, “who would look for waste, like the program that spent $95 million to help sick nuclear weapons workers, yet helped only one person? Who would look out for kids mistreated by a system that was supposed to protect them? And who will uncover actions by public officials that have direct financial benefit to their friends?”

With the financial and volunteer involvement of readers and the community, Channel 12 and the Colorado News Project reporters are determined that high quality investigative reporting on important topics will not be lost in Colorado.

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About Colorado Public Television (KBDI)
Colorado Public Television has set itself apart with carriage of an unparalleled amount of local public affairs programming. Channel 12’s "community voice" programming engages viewers in community-based discussions of state, national and global issues. The station delivers three digital channels: its flagship main broadcast signal with a strong mix of local, national and international programming (DT-12.1); The Documentary Channel, featuring the works of independent filmmakers (DT-12.2); and MHz Worldview, a channel providing international news from five continents and diverse cultural perspectives for a globally minded audience (DT-12.3).

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For further information, contact:
Ann Imse
Director of the Colorado Public News project
newsroom@kbdi.org
303-991-5017

Willard “Wick” Rowland
President and CEO
Colorado Public Television, KBDI-12
wrowland@kbdi.org
303-296-1212

Kim Johnson
Vice President, Broadcast Operations
Colorado Public Television, KBDI-12
kjohnson@kbdi.org
(303) 296-1212

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