The Colorado Sun is officially 1 year old today, and we have you and so many others to thank.
So much has happened and changed in the past year, but some things have remained the same: The Sun is still 100% Colorado-owned and -operated by its 10 founding journalists. We took a chance by launching a news site on Sept. 10, 2018, for one reason: Colorado needed and deserved more quality local journalism — and it still does.
Since then, we have been gratified that thousands of Coloradans have helped The Sun produce stories that shed light on people, places and issues across our state. They helped by funding our journalism, sharing our stories and giving us guidance on everything from our ethics policy to story suggestions.
We promised to work hard to earn your trust and support, and we have delivered on that promise. We produced award-winning journalism. We helped set the news agenda at the statehouse. We highlighted amazing people all across our state. Our reporters tromped through landfills to tell you where your trash goes. They waded into waters across Colorado to report on the health of our rivers. They focused on important issues, including gentrification, public health, the opioid epidemic and electric cars.
As we look back over the past year, we’re most proud of creating a Colorado Sun community — or really, a number of communities. First, of course, are our readers, members and supporters. But there’s also the community of freelancers who are local experts and help ensure that this is truly The Colorado Sun, representing the entire state.
And then there’s the community of our news partners across the state. We share Colorado Sun stories with newspapers from Grand Junction to Greeley, from Aspen to Aurora, Durango to Steamboat, Telluride, Fort Collins and beyond. And, later this week, we will be announcing details of an unprecedented news project that brings together more than a dozen newsrooms from all over Colorado who joined forces with The Sun to produce powerful journalism. This work would have been too big, too ambitious for any single newsroom to tackle.
Once upon a time, competitive pressures and fears would have stood in the way of this kind of cooperation. But this is the dawn of a new day in Colorado, one that emphasizes collaboration and service to all Coloradans over old turf wars. I know we all hope it is just the first of many projects we can pursue together — and with other news organizations that might be willing to join with us. It’s an exciting prospect as we look ahead to a busy 2020.
The Colorado Sun rose quickly last year, and we have far exceeded the goals we set out for our first anniversary. We now have 6,000 paying members and more than 40,000 newsletter subscribers. Our readers spend an average of three minutes or more on our long-form stories — far beyond the headline-scanning of 30 to 45 seconds that is common in our industry. That kind of engagement means we’re giving readers meaty stories to dig into and savor, stories like our recent examination of why Colorado has one out of every six four-day-a-week school districts in the nation and how schools are doing more than simply saving money.
As I said, there are so many to thank for helping us get off to such a strong start. Our benefactors at Civil continue to support us through a generous grant that asks nothing more of us than to go out and produce great local journalism. We also wish to thank the Colorado Media Project, the University of Denver and Dean JB Holston, University of Colorado journalism faculty and students, the Boston Consulting Group, the Gates Family Foundation, Aspen Journalism, Modworks and many sponsors.
We’re thrilled at the progress we’ve made, but we also know we have a long way to go. We’re working hard to ensure The Colorado Sun continues to shine, continues to grow and continues to produce stories that desperately need telling.
That means we also will continue to ask for your help. We took a leap of faith by deciding not to put up a paywall, ensuring that everyone who wants to read a Colorado Sun story can do so without having to pay. But that means we depend on readers who value our stories to become paying members, either at $5 a month for a basic membership or $20 a month at the premium level. If you can’t afford to pay, please share our stories with family, friends and colleagues. You also can subscribe to our newsletters.
On this, our first birthday, we know this much: We’re stronger together, Colorado. Thanks again.
Larry Ryckman is Editor of The Colorado Sun.