Olivia Sun

The Colorado Sun continues to grow.

Olivia Sun has been named as the first staff photojournalist to join our growing team, thanks to a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Olivia Sun will join The Colorado Sun as a photojournalist on June 1.

Sun (no, she wasn’t selected because of her last name, but we’re of course pleased!) is a native of eastern Iowa and spent the past two years at the Des Moines Register as a photo and video journalist. She graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in journalism and film, and has interned with the Chautauquan Daily in western New York, China Daily in Beijing, and NPR’s Science Desk. She is conversational in Mandarin and Spanish.

“I’m so excited to work with the Sun’s expanding team, especially at a time when visual journalism has been integral in bringing local change!” Sun said. “I fell in love with photojournalism because of its creative nature and how it connects people so instantly. Learning to report deeper on core issues in Colorado will be a joy and I can’t wait to get started.”

Sun will be based in metro Denver and will travel around the state to help tell impactful stories. In addition to being an award-winning still photographer, Sun is an accomplished video journalist who is as comfortable covering fast-paced breaking news as she is digging into complex, long-form topics.

Iowa’s wind industry provides 34% of the state’s electricity. Turbine towers can be recycled, but their six-ton blades are such a large composite of metal, wood, and fiberglass that they aren’t commercially viable to recycle. “There wasn’t a plan in place to say, ‘How are we going to recycle these?’ ‘How are we going to reduce the impact on landfills?,” said Bill Rowland, president of the Iowa Society of Waste Operations. (Olivia Sun)

“We’re thrilled to be able to add a journalist with Oliva’s talent to our team,” Sun Editor Larry Ryckman said. “We’re also grateful to Report for America and the tremendous support we receive from our Sun community.”

With the addition of Sun on June 1, The Colorado Sun newsroom will have 16 full-time staff members, with additional journalists expected to join our staff in the coming weeks. In addition, The Sun works with dozens of freelance reporters and photographers who regularly produce coverage from around the state.

Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit news organization that has a mission to build “a sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable and rebuild trust in the media.”

The Sun newsroom was chosen to host a Report for America journalist following a competition among news organizations. Key factors were demonstrating an urgent gap in coverage and having a plan to deploy a Report for America journalist to address that need.

The Colorado Sun will be raising money locally to support a portion of Sun’s salary. Report for America leverages a unique funding match model, paying half of a corps member’s salary, while encouraging and supporting local news partners to contribute one-quarter, with local and regional funders contributing the difference.

Tax-deductible donations can be made here via Report for America.

Konah Johnson helps her daughter Jennifer, 6, with schoolwork during an open tutoring session for students in Des Moines. Johnson, a refugee from Liberia, is a 30-year-old single mother of five and transitioned careers to public education at the start of the pandemic. (Olivia Sun)

Founded in 2018, The Colorado Sun is an independent, nonpartisan and reader-supported news organization that has partnered with dozens of newspapers, as well as radio and TV newsrooms, to produce robust, in-depth coverage of our state. The Sun is a public benefit corporation, and is entirely owned by Colorado journalists.

This byline is used for articles and guides written collaboratively by The Colorado Sun reporters, editors and producers.