Today, Empowering Colorado announces it is shutting down operations and bringing an end to a three-year effort to create a nonprofit newsroomdedicated to providing newscoverage of energy development and its local impact.
Our effort remained interesting up until the very end as the organization engaged in discussions through late October with a respected local nonprofit initially interested in bringing Empowering Colorado under its umbrella. Ultimately, issues of editorial control and changes to our potential partner’sin-house communication strategy — ended the conversation— with no agreement and no hard feelings.
We received significant support and encouragement during our journey. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter attended and spoke at our launch event. Several of Colorado’s best energy journalists including Allen Best and Mark Jaffe contributed ideas and/or content.
But the lack of an agreement wasn’t the only factor in our decision to shut down operations. Empowering Colorado could have continued producing content at its current level. But to truly showcase our organization’s impact and local benefit, we needed to produce more robust fact-based journalism that initiated change. Our bi-weekly news coverage, while respectable and developed within a strict journalistic process, wouldn’t move the needle quickly enough to showcase significant impact or encourage a broader level of funding.
Still, we received significant support and encouragement during our journey. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter attended and spoke at our launch event. Several of Colorado’s best energy journalists including Allen Best and Mark Jaffe contributed ideas and/or content. Numerous freelance journalists, editors, fundraisers, interns and engagement specialists contributed ideas and creativity. We couldn’t be more grateful for their help.
In the end, we remain committed to our mission and its potential to fill an important journalistic need. We hoped to improve the dialogue around energy development and curtail some of the hyperbole. Our energy information ecosystem is rife with advocacy information – not entirely a bad thing – as some of the information has value – even if it adheres to a particular point of view. But if the information is not balanced with fact-based journalism, then citizens ultimately lose trust in all sources of information. Energy is difficult to cover. The sector encompasses elements of science, business and public policy. We believe this topic is best explained by experienced journalists who understand the science as well as the competing agendas and nuance inherent in the topic.
Numerous freelance journalists, editors, fundraisers, interns and engagement specialists contributed their ideas and creativity. We couldn’t be more grateful for their help.
To address these issues, our nonprofit developed a strategic plan that called for Empowering Colorado to not only provide citizens with quality content, but also make a range of reportorial resources available to local media in an effort to strengthen energy reporting across our state.
In the end, we couldn’t make it work. The fault, is ultimately ours. But we witnessed first-hand howissues of energy and media polarize our society. We encountered a broad lack of understanding about how energy and media work. We also saw the impact of the extensive misinformationput forward by energy advocates and policy makers. Trust us. It has impacted all levels of our society regardless of education, race, status or sophistication.
We hoped to solve this problem, but in the end others will have to find the solution. There will be future journalistic endeavors that will step into the fray. We encourage you to support them. Local journalism remains in crisis and only a community-wide effort will allow it to resume its proper watchdog role it was meant to play in a healthy society.
On behalf of the Empowering Colorado Board of Advisors, we want to thank all Coloradans for allowing us to explore this important journalistic endeavor. We are a case-study for future journalists and community stakeholders to learn from. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t achieve the level of success we envisioned, but know we leave grateful and with our head held high!