Governor proclaims Colorado Journalism Week at convention

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper proclaimed April 16-22 as Colorado Journalism Week at the Colorado Press Association’s annual convention in Colorado Springs on Friday.

With several hundred attending his keynote lunch remarks, Hickenlooper said it was a critical time to honor the work of journalists.

“There has never been a greater need than now for what you do,” he told the crowd of mostly journalists. “I worry all the time that President Trump has attacked many of the foundations of the democracy — the judiciary, the FBI, the CIA — but he’s probably been most relentless attacking the press.”

“Those attacks, while they haven’t broken the fabric of our Constitution, have weakened it,” he added.

The governor’s proclamation invoked the words of President James Madison: “A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives” and said “an informed constituency is essential to a healthy democracy.”

Jerry Raehal, executive director of the Colorado Press Association, said the proclamation would kick off a year of advocacy.

“This is not about one week,” Raehal said. “This is a launching pad for a year of talking about journalism — about what journalists do and why their work matters. It’s about what the forefathers put in the First Amendment. We need to talk about this in our cities and towns.”

In partnership with the Colorado Broadcasters Association, and the Open Media Foundation, Colorado Journalism Week celebrates and honors the hard work and ideals of Colorado’s working press.

During Colorado Journalism Week, news organizations are being encouraged to engage their communities on social media next week using the hashtag #RealNewsCO, so the public might better understand people behind newsgathering and journalism.

During his lunchtime speech, the governor spoke to the critical nature of journalists’ work.

“When people begin to doubt everything they read, there’s a willingness to distrust any news organization,” Hickenlooper said. “That’s when the corporations of great size, the individuals that control huge amounts of wealth begin to have a greater level of control over the decisions made by this country.”

“We accept this at our own peril, ” he added.

During a question-and-answer period that followed his talk, Hickenlooper was asked what the state could do to help The Denver Post, which laid off more than two dozen newsroom employees on April 9 — the latest round of several layoffs during the past several years required by its hedge-fund owner.

“The last thing anyone wants is for the state of Colorado to own a newspaper,” the governor said, adding that neither could the state provide tax breaks or financial resources for another entity to buy the newspaper.

“Maybe I could be useful connecting potential financial investors,” the governor said.

A new entity, Together for Colorado Springs, this week floated the idea of purchasing The Denver Post. In an April 12 story in Colorado Springs Business Journal, John Weiss, the civic organization’s chairman and the Business Journal’s owner, said an exploratory committee had been created and $10 million already pledged by potential investors.

The Denver-based Colorado Press Association is a nonprofit association dedicated to promoting the newspaper industry in Colorado. Courtesy photo by Tom Cooper of Lightbox Images.