In the first full episode of the Local News Matters podcast, host Tim Regan-Porter sits down with executive director Todd Chamberlain and editor Raleigh Burleigh of the Sopris Sun, a weekly print newspaper and nonprofit in the small town of Carbondale, Colorado. The paper’s budget has doubled in the past two years, and Raleigh won the 2022 Innovation Award from the Colorado Press Association for the work he’s done there. Over the course of roughly an hour, we discuss the various projects they’ve launched, their distinctive voice, how they’ve served more of the community and integrated them into the newsroom, and how those efforts have led to more impact and a more sustainable business.

Episode breakdown:

(4:40) – Background of Sopris Sun + Raleigh, Todd & innovation award
(12:50) – Overview of Carbondale, CO
(17:28) – Projects for and with Latino communities
(26:13) – Business growth, freelancers and community ties
(44:52) – Design & voice
(49:56) – Biggest challenges + balancing hard and soft news
(58:29) – Digital evolution and the lifespan of a print product
(1:05:22) – Rapid-fire questions

Listen to the episode here:


Guest bios:

Raleigh Burleigh
Raleigh Burleigh was born in the Roaring Fork Valley, where he now serves his community as editor of The Sopris Sun, a weekly nonprofit newspaper. A year-long Rotary Youth Exchange to Chile at the age of 16 was fundamental to Burleigh's development, paving the way for return trips and a deep admiration for Latin America and the Spanish language. His time in El Bolsón, Argentina, following completion of a bachelor's degree in international affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder, instilled a passion for community radio which returned with him to Carbondale where he worked for years as news director and program director at KDNK Community Access Radio. Months into his editorship with The Sopris Sun, Burleigh launched “el Sol del Valle”, a Spanish-language insert that has earned statewide praise.




Todd Chamberlain
Todd is a Colorado native and has a degree in Environmental Conservation and Economics from University of Colorado, Boulder. Todd started his career as a Park Ranger at Rocky Mountain and Zion National Park. While on furlough from his Ranger duties, Todd approached Digital City Denver and the Denver Post in the 1990s about doing some outdoor and travel writing. He used this opportunity as a springboard to develop a website and database focusing on everything you can do in the Colorado outdoors.

After building the website, he went on to sell it to National Geographic. Todd became the organization's first Director of Internet Development & Ecommerce and was responsible for setting up their first online store. By the time he left, he had built a $16 million dollar store.

In 2006, Todd and his former partner sold their home in Boulder and took a two-year-long career sabbatical to travel. Their travels included a 6-month road trip of the Western U.S., a year traveling and living in Southeast Asia, and a two-month-long Spanish immersion in Costa Rica. In 2008, Todd and his partner relocated permanently to the Roaring Fork Valley, where he continued his career in digital media as an independent consultant and working with various marketing agencies in the Valley.

In 2019, he joined the Sopris Sun as Director of Sales and was elevated to become the organization's first Executive Director in December 2020. In his short tenure Todd has overseen many positive changes in the organization from financial stability to launching the Spanish insert, el Sol del Valle, and its Youth Journalism Mentorship Program.

Full transcript:


Tim Regan-Porter: Welcome to the first episode of the Local News Matters podcast, where we explore pathways to stronger journalism, better businesses and healthier communities. I’m Tim Regan-Porter, CEO of the Colorado Press Association.

Each episode, I sit down with guests from newsrooms and others in the news ecosystem to highlight the interesting and innovative work of local newsrooms—as well as the crucial questions they face. 

We’ll discuss business models, digital evolution, community listening, authenticity, diversity and inclusion, tech stacks, ad products, AI, audience growth, healthy newsroom cultures, journalism with impact, and more. Because to have thriving local news, to have financially viable businesses with journalism that makes a difference, requires a holistic understanding of these topics.

This podcast has been a long time coming. I’ve been noodling on it for years, for nearly a decade. Clearly, I was lacking one of the things needed for innovation: a bias toward action. I’ve been a huge fan of podcasts, especially long-form podcasts, since the early days. In fact, Paste, the magazine I cofounded in 2002, was an OG podcaster in the mid-aughts. That podcast was an iTunes new-and-notable and then best-of-the-year podcast back then. And we also produced a global underground music podcast series for Coca-Cola. In 2016/17, when I OD'd on the flood of daily news generated nationally, I turned to podcasts as a refuge, as a place where I could find the depth and nuance and perspective that was hard to find elsewhere.

You may hear some of those influences in this podcast. But I hope you find that this podcast fills a void, that it provides something different. There are a number of worthwhile podcasts about journalism and digital media, and we link to some of them in a podroll on our website. But we aim to provide a unique mix of strategic, tactical and even philosophical themes, a combination of business and editorial topics, a zooming in to examine what’s happening on the ground in newsrooms of all sizes and a zooming out to look at the bigger picture of national trends and thorny issues. 

Given my position at the Colorado Press Association, I will unapologetically over-index on Colorado and, to some extent, on print and on smaller markets. But our lens will be national, if not international, and will encompass all forms of media, various market sizes, and various sizes of organizations, including solopreneurs. Because I hold it as an article of faith that there’s no community, no medium, no market size, and no organization size or type so unique that there aren’t lessons for everyone, if they try and are careful to take the right lessons.

I am happy to say that, even before releasing this first episode, we’ve inked a deal with Pirate Audio for production support. Pirate Audio believes every community deserves great things to listen to, and they are on a mission to help local newsrooms reach their communities via audio. We’ll be working with them to help get more newsrooms into the podcasting space.

It’ll take a month or so for episodes they produce to make it into the feed, but I am very much looking forward to handing that off and continuously improving the technical and editorial quality of the podcast.

In fact, on this first episode, there were some technical issues. We had to resort to a backup Zoom session that wasn’t configured for high-quality audio and you’ll notice some artifacts from that. My apologies. It gets better.

So, with that bit of preamble, let’s get to it, zooming in to a small nonprofit newsroom in Colorado.

I am very excited to bring you this extended conversation with executive director Todd Chamberlain and editor Raleigh Burleigh of the Sopris Sun, a weekly print newspaper and nonprofit in the small town of Carbondale, Colorado.

I wanted to talk with them first because weekly newspapers throughout the country have proven surprisingly resilient, and because of the range of interesting initiatives the newsroom has been doing in the paper and in the community—for which Raleigh recently received the Innovation Award from the Colorado Press Association.

This is a newsroom that has impact well beyond what you might think, given their small staff. They have a unique approach and voice. And they have actual fans. In fact, just last week, I was at a conference and was talking to someone from Chicago who’d picked up the Sopris Sun on a trip to Colorado, and she was very excited to hear that Todd and Raleigh were the first guests. She said she loved the team and the unique voice of the paper. 

Regardless of where you live, I hope you’ll enjoy this conversation and find something you can take away. In fact, we’ll have a mid-week episode with some takeaways and a look back at some of the top stories and trends in local news from 2022.

So, without further ado, I bring you Todd and Raleigh of the Sopris Sun.

Background of the Sopris Sun + Raleigh, Todd & the innovation award

Regan-Porter: Well, welcome, Todd and Raleigh, to the first Local News Matters podcast.

Todd Chamberlain: Thank you. Happy to be here.

Raleigh Burleigh: What an honor to be on the first episode.

Regan-Porter: So I wanted to start with the two of you for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to start with a weekly and a weekly nonprofit on top of that, because I think a lot of the industry press over-indexes on the large metro dailies, the chains, people with money to do innovative things. But there's a lot of innovation happening at smaller newsrooms. And Raleigh, you were recognized at our annual awards back in September for innovation. So I want to dig into what's going on at the Sopris Sun, how it's working, how the business is doing and how you approach things maybe a little differently because of where you are, because of your structure and your frequency . Can you give me just a brief history of the Sopris Sun?

Burleigh: Yeah, we recently had a board visioning retreat, and this was on my plate to do the little bit of history, so it's appropriate and I've practiced. So the Sopris Sun kind of came from the ashes of a weekly newspaper called The Valley Journal. And that was started in the early 70s here in the Roaring Fork Valley. It was later acquired by Swift, the company that formerly owned the Aspen Times, Vail Daily, the Post Independent. And so then when the recession hit back in 2008, they were looking at their portfolio, evidently. And the staff of The Valley Journal at that time was informed just before Christmas that The Valley Journal would be no more in 2009. And so I think what's really miraculous about our story—and it says a lot about the town that we live in and serve—It really only took six weeks for some Carbondale locals to put together an alternative, which is the Sopris Sun. And it was covered by, I want to say, LA Weekly. It was a big LA newspaper. Just this notion that a nonprofit newsroom could be successful back then, in 2009 and the recession—people had their doubts. So we're coming up on 14 years and, in the past two in particular, we've really expanded our reach and our coverage as well as our budget, which, you know, credit to Todd for keeping us solvent with all our new initiatives. It's one thing to be innovative and come up with ideas. It's another to make that financially viable.

Regan-Porter: And how did you land there?

Burleigh: Okay, so, yeah, I grew up in Carbondale, and this is the town where I went to high school. I was an exchange student in Chile. And so then after graduating, really kind of oriented the next six years of my life toward going back. I ultimately studied international affairs in Boulder, as well as I got an international media certificate at CU Boulder. And after some travel back in Chile, as well as Argentina, once I pretty much was running out of steam, I came back to Carbondale, not fully anticipating to really root back in this town. But I got involved with the local radio station as the news director. And at that time, joined the board of the Sopris Sun. This is the first nonprofit board experience that I had. And in the pandemic, 2020, the editor really did a lot of work, but felt understandably burdened by the end of it. And so when he announced his departure from that position, it was right around the time that my board term was ending. There was a few months' lapse. Having put a lot of energy and time and attention and care and devotion into this nonprofit, I did want to see it continue to be successful. So I went ahead and applied for that editor position. 

Regan-Porter: Todd, you nominated Raleigh for the Innovator Award from the Colorado Press Association. Tell us a little bit about why you nominated Raleigh.

Chamberlain: You know, I think over the last two years, we have really changed the paper in some amazing ways, the organizational overall in many ways. And when Raleigh came on, he has some great ideas about starting Spanish language inserts, which we did within a couple months after he started. He also restarted a radio show on the local public radio station, KDNK, which is called “Everything Under the Sun.”  And so he does a recap of the weekly news and invites people to come on show and talk about that. And the other big initiative he helped spearhead was our youth journalism program, which brings a whole new aspect to the organization. And as I look at it, there's a lot of innovation there. And to be an innovator, not only do you have to have a great idea, but you have to have the fortitude to make that happen. So I think he's done an awesome job of doing that and following through on his ideas. Meanwhile, I kind of focus on making it happen through the money.

Regan-Porter: In your nomination for him, you called what he's done for the paper transformative. It's really transformed the paper.

Chamberlain: It has. And, you know, I think as a lot of newsrooms are doing right now, trying to figure out how to move forward to the future and what can newsrooms, especially in a rural area, bring to the community and make a community a better space.

Regan-Porter: Todd, how did you come to work there?

Chamberlain: I actually moved to the Valley here in 2007 after traveling for about a year and a half. There’s a theme here. And about the time I started at the Sun, I was going through kind of a midlife crisis. My long-term partner and I parted ways. And actually the same week I started at the Sun, I learned that I had a brain tumor. And so I had transitioned out of my old employer because I needed to. I knew there was something up. So I was kind of looking for something part-time so I could focus on my health as well as this big transition I was going through in my own life. So I started off part-time as kind of the salesperson for the paper. And back then, this was 2019 and right before the… COVID broke out. So I was doing part-time sales for about six months, seven months. I also was doing some traveling, trying to recover from everything that was going on. I was going through treatment at the same time. So I really started off with sales and about a year went by and COVID was going and I approached the board. I said, you know, this organization really needs an executive director if it's going to grow. And so they hired me as the first executive director about two years ago.

Overview of Carbondale, CO

Regan-Porter: And for those unfamiliar with Carbondale, whether they're in Colorado or outside of Colorado, can you give us a brief picture of the community there?

Burleigh: Carbondale really prides itself on creativity. There's several layers of culture that are pretty easy to distinguish because it was really not until the late 1800s that settlers came in after the native Ute people were removed from the area. And the Ute people had been nomadic in the sense of traveling large tracts of land seasonally, and they'd return to the same places. So after that, it was really a potato farming community feeding the rancher— or the, sorry, the miners up-valley in Aspen, places like Leadville. And then coal was discovered up in Redstone. So it became more of a mining community after that. And then hippies sort of found it in the 70s a lot coming down from the Aspen area and imbued a lot of fresh culture in. And there's some interesting stories of those days, the maybe inherent conflict between the coal mining ranching families that had historically been there and then the hippies and, you know, what they were introducing. But a couple years ago in 2021, we celebrated 50 years of the Mountain Fair, which is a big festival that the hippies started and that's really credited with tying together all these cultures and being a really important tradition in our town for bringing disparate peoples together. And then, presently, there's a very large immigrant population as well. People from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, but also South America. People from Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia. And when I was in high school, and I think it's even more true now, the demographics in the public high schools are more than half of that Spanish-speaking peoples, or descendants from, you know—many of them are what they kind of refer to as a 1.5 generation where maybe they were brought over by their parents when they were young. And so there are people who identify more with this place than maybe where they were born, but they were technically born in another country. But then there's also, you know, third, fourth generation Spanish-speaking immigrants in the area as well.

Chamberlain: I would also add that it's really changed in the last couple years, too. There's definitely a lot more tech people that have moved into the area and telecommuting. So that has changed a little bit of the town.

Regan-Porter: And have real estate prices done what they've done there, what they've done throughout Colorado?

Chamberlain: Yeah, they increased about 40% over the last year. So it's a crazy, it's a hard valley if you don't have money. So people  commute 50 miles up to Aspen to work. So a lot of people traveling a lot to work. 

Regan-Porter: And what's the population?

Burleigh: Carbondale—I just looked it up—is about 6,500-ish, but that's within town

 limits. And, you know, there's a lot of unincorporated county land surrounding with pretty sizable subdivisions. You know, it's interesting the Roaring Fork Valley is almost like a metropolis that's spread out throughout these different valleys. But there's a lot of ways in which each town and the land in between influences each other.  It's all very much locked together. Even though from Rifle to Aspen, there are three counties that are crossed.

Regan-Porter: And you're distributed pretty widely. Where do you have distribution?

Burleigh: So from Aspen to Marble to Glenwood Springs.

Regan-Porter: And you're distributed free?

Chamberlain: We are free.

Regan-Porter: Do you have any mail distribution?

Chamberlain: No, we do not. You know, we are distributed in over, about 125 locations, I think, in the valley right now. So we're pretty accessible. We have, the valley has a huge collection of other papers. Up in Aspen, there's two papers, and Glenwood Springs has a paper. So it's a rich valley of papers, and we're all free.

Projects for and with Latino communities

Regan-Porter: That area has about 40% of the population Spanish-speaking. Raleigh, you want to talk a little bit about why you thought this was an important thing to do from a community and editorial standpoint?

Burleigh: Yeah, I think, you know, rather than (a) savior mentality, I can even say it was like a selfish desire to just continue to celebrate the Spanish language. It was something that through my youth was really impactful. And through my travels, I've just really come to appreciate how much variety exists in the Spanish language with so many different countries that each really own it with different accents, different words that are shared. And you'll notice, you know, if you see a Chilean and a Mexican sharing language, then they have a hoot comparing phrases that are used. And so I thought, well, one, you know, it was recognizing a need because when I worked at the radio station, we had one particularly dramatic fire called the Lake Christine Fire above Basalt. And late in the night, it kind of made a weird move and went downhill. It was pushed by a big gust of wind and it came up on a trailer park. Thankfully, none of those homes burned. But people were being evacuated at like 9 p.m. And, you know, it was obviously a very intense moment. But the next day, as I was going to the Red Cross Center at the high school, I just happened to pass by the park. And I noticed a family washing their child in the water fountain, and I began to speak with them. And they had no idea where they were supposed to go. They just told me how they were told to leave their home late in the night. And so they had slept in their car and I was able to communicate to them. Oh, you're actually like less than a mile away from a place with food and beds and bathrooms, everything you might need. I think since then, the valley as a whole is really stepped up in interpreting emergency communication in particular. But then when it comes to, like, elections, we definitely notice a lack of information around ballot issues or candidate interviews. There was like seeing, okay, this is a need, but I think what makes el Sol del Valle different in a sense is like we get to also just take pride in the Spanish language and celebrate it for its intrinsic value. And I think that's meant a lot to native speakers or even like that 1.5 generation of people who grew up hearing it in the home and get to explore it in a more literary way. 

We have one contributor who's a professor of literature from Mexico. And so she in particular has really imbued a lot of flowery poetic language into her pieces. And they're fun to read. And I think for the Anglos who want to learn Spanish, it's also a great resource. So all those things made it successful. I think because we're a nonprofit, the impetus is to be as representative of the community as possible, above and beyond perhaps other, for-profit, newspapers. We're owned by the community, so the more diversity we can get in the paper, the better. And that's really played out through our youth journalism program as well. We have a piece this week by a high school student about dyeing your hair a different color. And he's talking to some youth experts at his high school and making some solid recommendations. And it's just like that kind of quirky, fun, informative piece that wouldn't be there if we didn't have a youth journalism program. And I think, you know, throughout the hard news, people do enjoy those softer, more entertaining stories, whether or not they plan to dye their hair. And the radio is just based on having come out of the radio and now serving on the board of directors for the radio station. It was something that existed before with the previous editor, Will Grandbois, for, I think, just reasons of having too much going on, the show ended for him. And so when I was made editor, it was definitely a priority to bring that back. I think it makes us just more present in people's lives. And it's fun to add that multimedia component.

Regan-Porter: Say a little bit more. I'm not familiar with the radio component.

Burleigh: Yeah, it's a half hour show during the public affairs block that our community radio station has every afternoon. We're on Thursdays at 4 p.m. And so we'll often use the opportunity to interview a guest relating to one of the stories in this week's paper. This week, we printed the Mountain West Non-Profit (Giving) Guide for our area. And so we'll be speaking to one of the nonprofit leaders who is a part  of this initiative. And Todd can speak more to it. He's also going to be a guest on today's show.

Chamberlain: Actually, the nonprofit guide is this is our second annual nonprofit guide that we've done through the paper. And I view as, being a nonprofit paper, that we have all these nonprofits here in the Valley. And they certainly are kind of our nonprofit brothers, and I just want to make sure that we support them as much as they support us. And the idea of doing this nonprofit guide comes out of Colorado Gives, which is in December every year. And this year we have 56 nonprofits being featured in the guide. And there's links for community members to give whatever or get to whatever organizations they want in the Valley. And we have, here again, we bring in the bilingual components, and the profiles are in English and Spanish. So it's kind of everything we're kind of doing right now is bilingual. Even the youth program. We have some youth that are bilingual. So it's kind of coming full circle, I think, which is kind of cool to see.

Regan-Porter: And the first foray was an insert into the Sopris Sun, and now you've created a standalone publication partnering with Aspen Daily News, and Megan Taggett there has been helping. Tell me a little bit about that evolution and that partnership.

Chamberlain: Yeah, it was a… I'll speak a little bit to it. Because when I first, Megan and I first talked about it, I was all for it. I was like, this is a great collaboration. And there were some… being a board, there were some board members who were like, “Why would we want to collaborate with a for-profit paper? “And it was a months-long process of educating  and bringing people along. And, you know, there were some … definitely,  there were some huge arguments they made that we were able to work through. And Megan and Aspen Daily News were very patient with us to bring us along. And I'm sure we'll probably talk more about the editorial and how that's happening. But it was, I think it's a fun collaboration, and spirit of collaboration, to show how a for-profit and nonprofit newspaper can work together to improve the community.

Burleigh: Yeah, it's definitely expanded the reach of what our insert had been up until that point. And we're often hearing from people that it's really great to see that appearing now as an insert inside the Aspen Daily News. And they're also making a standalone kind of distributed piece as well. And a lot of it's the same content. They also add some national, international news. We don't, at all, in our newspaper, not in English or in Spanish. So that speaks a little bit to like the difference of their model and identity versus ours. So it's been cool to see also how the same content might be laid out inside of our newspaper and how they take it and what they do with it as well.

Business growth

Regan-Porter: Talk a little bit about the impact on the business. So I believe you had some business support pretty early on in terms of advertising. How has that evolved, and what about membership/donations?

Chamberlain: So overall in the last two years our budget has actually doubled and the size of our paper has also increased. We, up until 2019, we were known as like a 12-to-16-page paper and in the last two/three years we've gone up to as high as, I think, 36 pages. And today's paper with the insert is over 60 pages. So I think the Spanish section has really increased the donation part of it and also the grants portion of it. We had First Bank really stepped up and gave us kind of a big sponsorship when we first launched the Spanish program. And so did the Manaus Fund. They gave us quite a bit of money to help start this project. And I think especially our—there's a contingent of the Anglo population that really appreciates the bilingual aspects of the paper. They enjoy reading the stories in Spanish and English and trying to improve their Spanish.  So I think there's a lot of pride from  the community in this. Because it is a fairly unique thing that we have done, compared to all the other papers. And you know, the other papers have followed our lead too. They're starting to put Spanish content in their papers. So, you know, I view it as kind of … probably we're not making money on it, but we probably are at a wash right now with the Spanish section, which is great.  I mean, it's only been going for about a year, a little over a year and a half, I guess. So I think 2023 will be a kind of pivotal year for growth.

Regan-Porter: Let's talk a little bit more about that growth. We visited in person. It's almost been a year. And at that point, you know, you had grown then and it seems like you continued to grow. One of the secrets, I think, in local news is how well many community weekly papers are doing across the country. I hear this from other press association directors and others. I think a lot of metro dailies are struggling. We just saw Alabama Media Group, which has papers in several of the large cities there, is going on online only. They've grown their online business, but they've struggled to support the print. But a lot, and certainly not all, but a lot of our community papers are thriving. They are the crucial source of information in their community and they're getting support from subscribers or members and advertisers. Todd, your team gave you a lot of credit for getting in there and growing that advertising. Can you talk a little bit about the approach and why do you think advertisers have jumped on-board to support you?

Chamberlain:  I view my job, especially when I first started, that it was more of an educational approach that I took, instead of hard sales. I went out to the community and said, “Hey, we're a nonprofit. Did you know we're a nonprofit? If you support us, you're supporting the community?” And still, to this day, I've run across people that say, “You're a nonprofit?” And have to go into it that yeah, we are a nonprofit. And so what I've been doing slowly but surely—and 2023 again is going to be a pivotal year for this— is I'm kind of pivoting away from the traditional advertising model and going to more underwriting and sponsorships. I'm trying to get advertisers to, instead of paying per ad, to say, “Hey, why don't you give us $500 a month and then you can have a quarter-page promotional spot in the paper.” And I've gotten a lot of  feedback in that model. And so that's kind of how I'm approaching it and trying to be innovative on how to make a sustainable local newspaper work. And to have more buy-in from the business community, even government agencies. Doing the same thing for them, saying, hey, instead of us billing you every week for the ad you put in, why don't you just give us $1,000 a month or $2,000 a month and you could have unlimited advertising and we could do both English—and it's a great way for me to pitch. Hey, that way we could do both English and Spanish ads and your reach you in the whole community… And you know, I'm finding people being very receptive to that. The nonprofit community, they love the idea. They love that they could reach both audiences, to think about their promotional needs kind of on an annual basis instead of like, oh, let's just get an ad in there for next week. And instead we're kind of being partners with one another and saying, hey, you help us out and we'll help you out and the community is better for it.

Regan-Porter: We've done some research, and there's been years of academic research, that shows how print advertising can be effective, but you're also finding that just the idea of supporting the community by supporting the information source in that community actually matters to a lot of the local businesses you're talking to.

Chamberlain: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we have a huge cadre of freelancers. They're part of the community. And our support for the nonprofit community—I think the business community appreciates that because they could help us out and we help the nonprofits that they support as  well. So it's kind of a, you know, it's a win-win for everyone. And I think when you're a nonprofit paper, especially, there's a lot of wins you could do and there's a lot of innovations you can make to take a traditional paper into more of a community asset. I think it's an exciting time to be innovative and look towards what it can be in the future.

Regan-Porter: Let's dig into the freelancer aspect. One of the things you mentioned in your nomination of Raleigh was how Raleigh had expanded the freelancer pool. And so, you know my mind went immediately just some of the editorial reasons you might do that, but it sounds like there's some business reasons as well. Raleigh, do you want to talk about that process and why you did it?

Burleigh: Yeah, I want to also just speak to what you said, Tim, about why community weeklies in particular are thriving when we see, you know, a lot of the dailies and Metro areas not succeeding as much as they had in the past. I think like we live in an age where we're so inundated with information all the time, especially from our phones and there's something special to a weekly product where we really take our time and we get to sleep on questions. And this does tie into the freelance pool. It allows us so much more, I think, thoughtfulness when it comes to what we end up printing in the end. And so we're unlike the dailies here in the Valley in the sense of the habits people might have around the product where you might pick it up or not. You might look at it while you've, you know, got a chance sitting down with some coffee or pizza and then it's gone. And so how much of it do you actually consume before the next issues out, right? And then whatever you missed you missed and it's gone. Whereas people make a point of picking up the Sopra Sun typically before their weekend and then, you know, might spend a Sunday morning just reading it cover to cover and consuming all the stories. And we hear that often. People are reading it cover to cover. And that speaks also to the talent of our freelance pool. A lot of committed people of all walks of life. I think because it's so flexible it works for a lot of people. We have, you know, several mothers on in our freelance pool who might spend most of their time with their children as they're very young children. But when they can steal away those hours to put together an article and then supplement the income in that way, it just provides a good option. Also young people who might have a job at a cafe, but this is something we have—one in particular just graduated from CC College in Colorado Springs. And he's on our Basalt Council beat now, and we're training him into it. But it's something he can structure with his other jobs where, you know, he's gaining the skills and he's getting the practice that he wants while also, you know, working at a cafe to to make ends meet in this Valley, which is quite expensive. We also have several people who are retired, who might be on a fixed income and use this to supplement their income. One individual who does excellent work and he doesn't charge us for it. He has never sent an invoice just because he is retired. He's stable, and he likes doing the work. And he sees the benefit for his community.

Regan-Porter: Todd, can you talk a little bit about the impact on the organization as a whole of expanding the freelancer pool? I'm thinking of—I moved here from Macon, Georgia, which is a mid-sized city, maybe the size of Fort Collins. And an Americana, root-rock type of station opened up. It was commercial, but they ran it almost like a community radio station. So locals were there producing their own shows, and they had a lot of local news segments where they would have people that live down the street talking about what's going on in that community. And our public radio station did a little bit of that with the fund drive. It was the only fund drive that I ever looked forward to because it was people in the community that I knew. And I think a lot of times local news overlooks that community aspect of just, you know, having people involved in the newsmaking, getting to see themselves reflected not just as a subject, written about, but actually helping to to be a part of the operations and contribute whether as a freelancer and other ways. And it sounds like from what you said earlier that you're actually seeing some of that, even on the advertising side. The fact that you have freelancers who are embedded in the community pays off.

Chamberlain: Yeah, and you know I think our freelance pool, too, brings out, reflects the community, too, because we have some two cartoonists that do cartoons for us on a regular basis. We have someone that does a word guess. And so I think it brings out the artsy side of Carbondale. And one thing we have done with the youth program is we pay the youth and they're published in the paper. So that we get that kind of youth perspective on news. I was talking to one of the moms last week about the program. And she couldn’t speak highly enough of the program. And she was saying that her son is so excited every day when he gets to go out on the beat. And he's starting to talk the lingo, and he's opening his first checking account because he's getting paid. So he's really viewing this as a real job. And I know they're learning the whole aspect of the business—everything from the nonprofit side; they're learning about advertising, editorial. So it's a great program that I think reflects the community here too. And I think some of our freelancers also bring out—especially our photographers—bring out something that is unique that tell the story in a unique way of the community from how they—where they take photographs, how they take photographs. And that means a lot to people. We do we do print on higher quality paper. So photographs really do stand out to tell the story.

Burleigh: I think one thing about the ways in which revenue might be increased by an expanded freelance pool is we capture audience that way. So people who appear in the paper whether they took a photo that we're publishing, or as Todd was mentioning we have a crossword puzzle maker now who does tiny three-by-three crossword puzzles that people have really enjoyed. And now he's started to do some sports coverage for us, but it gets their friends, their family,  their coworkers looking at the paper if they hadn't been before. And then  hopefully seeing, you know, a number of other elements that they enjoy. And as Todd was mentioning, we're doing more of a push toward sponsorship over advertising and also memberships, trying to kind of follow that community radio model and getting people to think about giving monthly to the newspaper, even though it's not delivered to their doorstep. But recognizing, you know, yes, this this adds at least $2.50 of value to my life each week, right? And to give that $10.

Chamberlain: Yeah, and you know, I think one of our first sponsors that we had for a section was actually for our fiction section, which was started this last year. One of the bookstores wanted to sponsor instead of advertising. They're more considered an underwriter for the fiction section, which we baked-in works of fiction, whether it's a poem or photograph or drawing into the fiction section, which is kind of another way we outreach to the community and have them a part of the paper.

Regan-Porter: You know years ago, I was talking to Eric Newton. He used to be at the Knight Foundation. And one of the things he he talked to me about was, we've got these institutions. Some of us are putting out papers every day, some of us weekly, but this is a platform. We don't usually talk about it in that language. But it's a platform for the community. And we really should not treat this solely as our possession, but as opportunities to involve the community. And let's give them some pages to have some voice, and you've got to make sure it's ethical and accurate and all of that. But I think it's often overlooked. And it's also like you mentioned Todd earlier, reflecting the community. We talk a lot about diversity. And I think we've seen very little progress in terms of having our staff look like the community. And sometimes we blame the pipeline, but it's legitimate. It can be hard to find people that reflect our community when you're hiring, but I think we can't just use it as an excuse. We can pull in the community. Can talk a little bit more about the diversity that the freelancer pool has brought to your paper as well?

Burleigh: I think it it lowers the bar. Not in the sense of quality, per se. But it's like that barrier to access—like, you don't have to have a degree necessarily or, you know, years of experience in a newsroom. And you're not applying for a full-time job But if it's somebody who says, “Yeah, I'd love to learn to cover sports games or go shoot them for the paper.” And that's you know, a couple hours a week that they're committing, and then they're just getting paid directly for that time. I think also in this in this post-COVID age, you know, we're seeing less of that willingness to commit all of one's time and energy to a job. And we're seeing more of that sort of people wanting to piecemeal together a life that speaks to their diverse interests. And so the Sopra Sun has succeeded in becoming an aspect of many different people's lives. And they might contribute once a month, or maybe it's more often. But creating the room for that to happen. And I think being a nonprofit, it's in our DNA that this belongs to our community more than it does to anyone on staff or even our board of directors.

Regan-Porter: We're talking with a group out of Kansas called Earn Your Press Pass. And they started in Kansas because getting people to rural Kansas—generally rural America—can be challenging, particularly young people. In Carbondale, it might be less that it's rural than that it's expensive. It might be a challenge to get people there. I know a lot of mountain towns and the Front Range have that problem. So Earn Your Press Pass is a structured training where you can have community members go through and learn about journalistic ethics and and all the various different things that you might pick up in journalism school without going to get a degree. So, you know, we're hoping to offer that free to members. Does that sound like something that would be worthwhile to have some of your freelancers go through?

Burleigh: Yeah, absolutely. I think that kind of tool would be wonderful. You know, we've pulled pretty much the Colorado Sun’s—they have a really comprehensive guide on their website that's public facing about the ethics that they follow for their journalists. And so as soon as I started it was like, okay, here's what we're going to follow because this is really sound. And you know, we do open ourselves up. We make ourselves vulnerable when we bring someone on who doesn't necessarily have that background. And there is an exercise in training people to mostly, I think, remove their subjectivity. In the sense  of like some people will want to lead an article with “I found” or “I know” or “This happened to me.” It's, you know, that's like the first lesson is actually no, we're not— we're removing ourselves from this piece, you know.

Chamberlain: It's an interesting thing you bring up, Tim, because we have actually talked about doing an adult class and even potentially in Spanish and that community and increase our diversity in that regard. Because there are I think a lot of people in the community that are kind of gun shy. They aren't really sure they can do this. They just need some hand-holding along the way. So I think that a program like that is awesome.

Design & voice

Regan-Porter:  Talk a little bit about your design and your voice. It is not really a traditional newspaper in many senses. I'm sure some of that comes from your backgrounds. I mean your the look is a little more magazine-like. Todd, you mentioned your run high-quality paper. The photography is really stunning sometimes. I just saw today's email with the Dia de los Muertos—that photo was great. And you've got cartoonists. You've got your own crossword puzzle. Raleigh, you were contributing some pieces while you were traveling. You've got poetry. Things that people don't traditionally see—think about, anyway—in their local news. Can talk a little about how that came about, why you did it and what your sort of philosophy of design and editorial voice is?

Burleigh: Yeah, I would encourage anyone listening to this, if you go to and click on past issues—something I'll do when I'm bored, but—scroll way, way, way down and you get to 2009. And you see that it's been a part of the Sopris Sun,  these really I think like photo first covers. We've begun adding more illustrations on the covers in the last couple years. And that's something that actually came from the Valley Journal, which we have back copies bounded in the office and at our library. And really delight in pulling those open and seeing like how visual they are, how pronounced the photos are. And then even the incorporation of little cartoons all throughout. So in many ways, I think it's a part of the identity of the paper that's pulled through. And also a certain like quirkiness, a certain like we don't take ourselves too seriously. But I think you know, we can get away with all of that—the humor, the fiction, just the overall like colorfulness, or having you know stories about dying your hair—because we ground it in some really diligent local municipality coverage. And so we're really focused on that piece as well. And I think it's like the other side of the scale that we have to maintain that balance. We can't become just fluff obviously, but when we do really rigorous reporting on the local municipal meetings and also the county is something that we're committing to, then I think it it helps it be like a better experience, a better product, for anybody. And so someone even might pick it up for the cartoons, but then they're looking through it and they're learning something about what's happening with the town's comprehensive plan. And they're gleaning that they do care about that and how they can participate in guiding the direction. We also pride ourselves on the calendar, but again, like it comes down to a reflection of our community. There's so much fun stuff happening that we get to dedicate two pages that do have ads, but it's essentially as big as a full page, that's just here's what's happening this week and then a little into the following week. And yeah, it's I think it's a positive feedback loop that we’re made vibrant by our community, and we also get to make our community more vibrant.

Regan-Porter: I think that's something that is so often overlooked. I mean, I come from a magazine background. So we have had the advantage of kind of the slow news process as you were kind of alluding to earlier, but also just the brand and the sense of identity. I think our readers felt like they knew us, the people that were producing the magazine. And I think a lot of newspapers miss that. It's changing, but I think having those identities to come out doesn't have to undercut your serious journalism. But it makes you invested in the community and the community invested in you and gives people a way in. I've really enjoyed looking at not just your paper, but your newsletters. And there's very much that sense that these are real people who live in the community and you get to know them a little bit.

Burleigh: Glad that you're enjoying our newsletter and that's been another initiative that I think has really shown. When we look at the statistics in our program we use for that, it tells us we're like a 10 out of 10, that our open rate is extremely good, and the click-through rate. And I think that really speaks to the success of James Steinler, who's our contributing editor, allowing his voice to come through in those newsletters and making them really personable and fun.

Regan-Porter: And just for those who are—I can see some some listeners wondering “Okay, well, what is your open rate? What is your click-through rate? I have no idea what good is.” What do you consider good?

Burleigh: I think what this site tells us is good is like 60 to 70%, and it's sent to about 300 people.

Biggest challenges + balancing hard and soft news

Regan-Porter: What is the biggest challenge for the Sopris Sun, just sort of day-to-day running, but also big picture, staying afloat and evolving?

Chamberlain: I think the biggest challenge is we have, we're in the valley with three other newspapers, and it's a challenge to get people to support us sometimes. And like I said earlier, it's a kind of an educational process of explaining that the community really owns us, and we're here because of the community. And if the community gives up on us, we won't exist. You know, looking forward, two, three, four years down the road, it's how to sustain us. Printing costs have gone up 40% in the last three years. There's only one or two presses now in the Western Slope. So we're driving a lot to pick up our papers. And when the road, when the highways close, we have to go on a five-hour journey to get to the press. So it's a challenge just making the funds to keep it running. Like I said two years ago, we were half the budget we are today. And I already told my board, I said I can't double again. Unless we get two more of me, I can't do it. I think there's only so much that the business community can give, too. I mean, they do so much. We’re in an area that has a hundred plus nonprofits, but somehow we all support. So it's a challenge in that regard.

Regan-Porter: Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you were to go away, there would be a news hole, a little bit of a news desert there, right? Because the while there are other papers people can get, they're not going to your school board meetings and city council meetings. Is that correct? You're the only real Carbondale news source.

Burleigh: We're like, you know, aggressively holding on to that. And I think just by being that comprehensive source to where you know, there's so much to cover. And it really doesn't make sense to have us all covering the same thing, as you'll find in sports. Because you know, there's an expectation that we cover at least the Carbondale high school sports. But then if the dailies are covering the especially, like, interesting games and then we're coming up a few days later. It's like, okay, how do we make this meaningful while meeting the expectation that we cover this and allocate resources wisely. My approach to the town council meetings for Carbondale that's been emulated now for the county as well as Basalt’s—and it was the school board meeting as well. We're kind of fluctuating there, but to almost like take minutes. Instead of saying here's an agenda item that's juicy and I'm going to attack that one and make the story about that. We sit through every meeting, and we basically draw the details out about all the things that might be important, that somebody might care about, that might have an impact or be part of a greater story that's unfolding. And then I’ll constantly be referring back to my old Carbondale reports to give that background and association with new details that emerge. And every now and then it's like, okay, time to do a separate story where I can look back at all those other things, everything that happened at the meetings and then put it together to bring people up to speed, more targeted. Yeah, and it might be, you know, boring to some but I think like that sort of coverage holds our public officials accountable and it keeps our community informed. And we're not making assumptions about what's important or not.

Chamberlain: And I think, too, one thing, a challenge for us and you know, a lot of newsrooms, too, is keeping our employees paid. And having the cost of living up here. It's a big challenge to be able to pay everyone a fair wage, including our freelancers because they do put a lot of time and effort into the stories and to really make sure that they're taken care of. Right now, none of the employees have really any benefits other than vacation. And so we're kind of all on our own for, you know, insurance and that type of stuff. So, retaining employees, I think is kind of the long-term challenge for, just not us, but a lot of businesses here in the Valley.

Regan-Porter: And Raleigh, how do you solve that? What is your approach to that football coverage issue?

Regan-Porter: No, that's a good question. I think, like, being more visual, for example. Just last week, our soccer team won an important playoff game and advanced. And it happened that, you know, it happened on a Tuesday. So by Wednesday, the other papers wrote great stories, great coverage. So we were able to run a really dynamic photo right on the cover with a story that, you know, was less comprehensive, but maybe just kind of fun. Like we enjoy using some creative language to describe the game, and just having fun with it. But I think the presence on the cover with the headline was the affirmation for local athletes that like, yes, you're doing great and we care, you know. And we're also aware that this has been covered really comprehensively. So just trying to find those opportunities. We don't want to be redundant, but we also don't want to appear like we're not paying attention.

Regan-Porter: And those aspects of coverage, I think, are so important and sometimes overlooked, particularly by nonprofits. I was at a meeting of some Colorado ecosystem folks, just last week. And someone referred to the non-hard-news stuff as your dessert versus your broccoli. And someone from the National Trust for Local News,was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That stuff is not dessert. It is part of the main entree that people—people want to know what's going on in high school sports. They want to know what concerts are coming to the area and what new restaurants are opening up. And sometimes I think that often gets overlooked. Certainly accountability coverage is the thing that journalists are uniquely here to do. But I wouldn't want to live in a city that had enough issues that it was all accountability coverage. From a daily publication, especially. Particularly in the age of social media, we go from a cat video to a story about  the election and war and famine, and we just kind of flip back and forth. And that's kind of the way we live our lives, too, that it's all sort of integrated. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Burleigh: Yeah, I think, you know, like whoever owns that business—we recently did one on a business closing. It was kind of different, but like a beloved business closing. And, you know, it's so important to those people who put forward the effort, the intentions, the dreams, whether they're opening or closing. And it's a part of our story. It's a part of who we are. It's an opportunity to speak to locals about their vision, about their hopes, and the things they're observing. And, you know, a lot of that kind of event coverage, too, can be a lot more appealing for some entry-level journalists. And it's a really great opportunity to say, okay, this isn't high stakes. You're not trying to get information from somebody who doesn't want to give it. Like, it's promotional. You get to talk to somebody who's really stoked to share what that is, you know, and so that's like a nice entry level to reporting for people who might not be as familiar with interviewing and gaining comfort in that area. Yeah, I don't know quite what to say to the social media dilemma, except that we're really proud of our print product. We're really proud to offer something that people can be held by their attention and that they can take a break from some of that, you know. Because if your phone's constantly sending you mixed messages or distracting you, you're multitasking all the time and things are coming up and you're opening new windows. This is an experience for people to kind of step away from that and really take their time with our community.

Digital evolution and the lifespan of print

Regan-Porter: Let’s dig into that just a little bit. If back in 2012, you had told me that community weekly papers were going to be some of the bright spots and that newsrooms with six or fewer full-time people in 2012 would be at about the same level in 2022, I would have found that hard to believe. I mean, I think even the publisher at  New York Times wasn't sure where they would be by this decade. I think print has proven surprisingly resilient. Now, we may have had the first shoe drop in terms of metro dailies with Alabama Media Group, but there's, you know, remarkable resilience there. But how are you thinking about digital evolution and the lifespan of a print product?

Chamberlain: It's funny because I actually started off in digital. I was e-commerce for National Geographic for eight years. So, I've had, you know, 20 years of digital experience before I came back to print. And, you know, it's refreshing. I think the more and more we rely on our phones, the more and more some of us really want that other old feel of picking up a paper and being able to relax and not worry about anything digital. And I do see though that—in fact, we're talking about now, we're in need of a website redesign. We just were part of a cohort that took a look at the Latino community here locally and what they wanted from different news sources here, media sources. And one thing we discovered in there, a lot of people are using their phones to get to that information. So, I think I see a future where we're going to be hopefully doing both, but never giving up on our print product if we don't have to. I think the biggest challenge would be if one of the printers decides to go out of business and then that would be the biggest challenge of continuing the print product. But, you know, digital— thereare some things you could do on digital that are very cool and also tell the story of the community. But when I travel, I always pick up the newspape. And I always try to get the feel of a community by the newspaper. I don't really do much research on the internet. I just like to go and just feel the community and pick up that paper and see what's going on and become part of that community. 

Regan-Porter: Todd, are you, on the website are you able to monetize that? And are you taking a sponsorship approach yet?

Chamberlain: You know, when we redo the website, I hope we could monetize it. We did a little bit of advertising, but for the most part,I view it as kind of a way I could kind of upsell if you were. Hey, if you advertise, I'll give you free advertising on the website. Because really our technology is not very good. We can't tell you how many people click on your ad right now just because our website is kind of old technology. And we can't keep up with what they're being told by some of the newer technologies. So that's how I approach it right now. 

Regan-Porter: And, Raleigh,  what's your approach to digital in terms of the content? What goes to the web? Do you hold any back because of the print product?

Burleigh: Yeah.Yeah. The only thing we would really hold back is if we maybe likereran a story. It's very rare. But if we ran a story from like the Colorado Sun or High Country News or Writers on the Range, then we would make the decision whether it was worth posting or not. Otherwise, all of our content makes it onto the web. We do have a lot of people who look at the digital version of our print product, who really enjoy Issuu. And we've made it so they can download that. And we hear from people if we forgot to check the box to download. So we're very aware people are consuming the news there, as well. That they like the layout portion of it, versus scrolling through and reading it. Yeah, and I'll just say, you know, we had that extra big paper. So I went to Gypsum last night to help pick up about half the stack and bring it to the office to help our delivery guy who was unsure if he could fit it all in his car. And seeing the process, being in the press—I got a little tour. It really adds so much value to the paper. I think whereas in the past it was like this is a disposable thing. This is fish wrap. Whatever. Print another one tomorrow. Where it was cheaper, you know, understandably the cost of everything going up as they are. It's a precious gift each week, you know, that we get to print all these things. And so, you know, really taking that into mind and into our hearts when we're designing the paper that we're about to, you know, rip thousands of copies and and we want to make it worth it for that cost on our budget, on our supporters, but also the environment, you know. And we’ve really kind of dialed in our distribution and we're trying to minimize how many never get picked up. But it's certainly something I think we'll think about before we're thinking about going only digital is maybe doing more targeted printing and perhaps more of a subscription model. That would be down the line. But yeah, I think there's some magic to the print product, certainly.

Chamberlain: One thing I did last year was, we went to the higher level of Issuu so that people could download it. Because there were some people concerned about consuming the paper product. They want to be—they are digital, and they just want—they want to read it, but they don't want to pick up paper because of what they view as affecting the environment.

Regan-Porter: One last thing. I asked about holding print back, but do you also have a lot of web articles that don't make it into the print?

Burleigh: More in the Spanish side of things. By the time we have had our town coverage, which happens on Tuesday nights, translated—because it'll be written by Wednesday morning translated—sometimes it's on time for Aspen Daily News, who print later, to include those in their Spanish section. It's not really the case for us. So we end up having those on our website because we think that's a really important hole and coverage for that information equity, but just to keep people who are mono-speaking Spanish speakers, monolingual Spanish speakers, to have access to what's happening with their town council on a weekly basis.

Rapid-fire questions

Regan-Porter: Alright, and then I'll end with some rapid-fire questions. And your answers don't have to be rapid, but I'll just fire these off. So compared to a year ago, are you more or less optimistic about the future of the Sopris Sun and the future of local news?

Chamberlain: You know, I think I'm more optimistic. I think we're slowly creating a model that will be sustainable, and that's exciting for me. I think that's what I've been working towards, is kind of creating a sustainable model that maybe other communities could follow.

Burleigh: Yeah, I think I remain optimistic. I think it's not more or less, but I think local news will always be relevant. And there'll be challenges to adapt to how that's delivered. But, yeah, I don't see it ending.

Regan-Porter: What is one thing you believe that most other people don't? Maybe they're even thinking you're crazy for believing it.

Chamberlain: You know, I think we'll be printing papers for a while. I don't think digital will ever replace a printed paper.

Burleigh: I understood the question differently. I would say, not so much signs in astrology, but the movement of the planets is pretty interesting for me to pay attention to.

Regan-Porter: Do you have a favorite quote?

Burleigh: “The world is but a canvas to your imagination.” That's Henry David Thoreau.

Chamberlain: You know, I can't think of one right now. That's a tough one. There's so many good ones.

Regan-Porter: That's all right. You're welcome to pass on any of these.

Chamberlain: I'll pass on that one.

Regan-Porter: All right. You know, we started off talking about the Innovation Award. And sometimes a big part of innovation is failure. Do you have a failure that you think was particularly instructive in your past?

Burleigh: Yeah, so at the radio station, we did do a lot of efforts for Spanish content while I was there as the news director. And we had success and failures, but that's no longer. It's changed a lot. And I think it's adapted to what we learned along the way, but I think there were certainly some failures in our approach that taught me a lot.

Chamberlain: No, I have had lots of failures over my lifetime. And I don't really dwell on them. I'm a positive person and tend to look on the right side of things. So I learned from them and just pick up and go on.

Regan-Porter: So you've got a program there that works a lot with students. What one piece of advice would you give to a student who is thinking about going into local news?

Burleigh: So, you know, we have capstone projects here where the senior year, the student’s supposed to come up with a big project. One approached us about a photo essay. And the community college, meanwhile, offers a photojournalism class. And so I think, you know, not waiting. But to look for those opportunities actively and to become involved. Because I think we in local news know that there's always a need for more hands on deck.

Chamberlain: I just say go for it and have fun. That's where you could, you should always be having fun no matter what you put, what you go into.

Regan-Porter: What's your best self-care tip? Local news can be very stressful. Running any business can be stressful. And I think news has particular urgency, and sometimes polarization, attached to it.

Burleigh: I think just making sure that you're taking that time. It's easy to get pulled into every hour of your day belonging to the cause. But making sure that you're taking time deliberately to catch up on sleep or make a good meal, get some exercise, do things that you enjoy.

Chamberlain: I would second that. I think it's very important to, like I said, have fun and take care of yourself. Because life is short. And we always should be learning, and just being happy that we're part of this community in this world.

Regan-Porter: Clean desk or messy desk?

Burleigh: Messy

Chamberlain: I try to go for the clean desk, but it never happens. It's pretty messy.

Regan-Porter: What's your smartest time-saving hack?

Burleigh: I think if you wake up early, and you're awake, to just get up and do what you need to do, instead of just trying to sleep if you're not sleeping. There's a quote in Spanish, “Dios ayuda al que madruga,” which means like, “God helps the person who wakes up early.” And I find that those hours with no distractions can be extremely great for getting stuff done.

Chamberlain: I try to get up and go to the gym right away, and that really saves me time throughout the day. It gets me up and active and refreshed right away and ready to tackle work after that.

Regan-Porter: Favorite place to think big?

Chamberlain: For me, it's a hike. I usually go on a hike and find a nice rock to sit on and just sit there and take in the views. 

Burleigh: I enjoy jogging, and similarly though, if it's on a trail, all the better.

Regan-Porter: Alright, and then last one, Raleigh, since you've been writing about some travels, if a listener could only visit one country, where would you recommend?

Burleigh: So I was just in Ireland, and I thought it was really great in that it's a very culturally rich place to visit with so much history, really friendly people, and then there's not the same language barrier that you would experience going to most other countries. So it's easier to dive in and get to know the locals. So it's different enough, but still approachable and that's nice.

Chamberlain: This is a difficult one for me because I've been abroad for about three years and over 40 countries. So I have this different answer for whoever asked, but one that always will have a special place in my heart, I think, is Nepal. I think just the people are awesome. And they're coming from the Rocky Mountains, there's an awe of standing at 14,000 feet and still seeing another 14,000 feet in front of you.

Regan-Porter: And I should offer apologies to other podcasts that I ripped off with those; there are about four of them in there. I want to end with the media recommendations, also ripping off Ezra Klein’s podcast. But changing it from just book recommendations to: Do you have  podcast you particularly recommend?

Chamberlain: For me, my last one is not lost. And it's about this kind of premise, this guy kind of lost his regular gig and started this podcast. And he travels and tries to get invited to a dinner party where he travels. And I think as I travel, I really enjoy that concept, and I may have to  follow that sometime.

Burleigh: Well, I'm a big fan of community media. So I would just encourage anybody in a place blessed enough to have a community radio station to tune in as often as they can.

Regan-Porter: Are there any newsletters that are must reads for you?

Chamberlain: I'm a big fan of National Geographic’s newsletters. They have a lot from the science to the photo of the week. I just, having worked there, it's just an awesome thing for me to go back to.

Burleigh: Yeah, besides the Sopris Sun’s newsletter, of course, I really enjoy Emergence Magazine‘s offerings. Some really great photography, short films, essays. They also have a podcast, but I didn't want to be redundant. But Emergence Magazine is a pretty cool source.

Regan-Porter: If you had three pieces of media in whatever format to listen, watch, or read repeatedly, if you're stranded on a desert island, what would they be?

Chamberlain: I would have to go, I would have to have a copy of the Sopris Sun, of course. Then, you know, I probably would want a New York Times because I really enjoy looking at the New York Times, and a copy of probably my favorite National Geographic, which is either kind of one of those space editions or, as a park ranger, probably either Rocky Mountain National Park when they previewed it or they also do the preview of Zion, where I worked, and I always will appreciate both those places.

Burleigh: Um that's a tough one. If I could throw a guitar in the mix, I would, as some form of media that would be more dynamic. Yeah, as well as, you know, a book of photographs, I think, like Todd was saying for National Geographic. I don't know exactly who, but photographs from around the world would be probably a nice thing to have on an island like that. And then some kind of really rich, jazzy album that lasts a long time.

Regan-Porter: Thank you for listening to the Local News Matters Podcast, and thanks to Todd and Raleigh for your time and thoughtfulness and all of the work you do to serve your community.

Check back next week for my conversation with one of my favorite people, one of my favorite thinkers and doers, Jennifer Brandel of Hearken, Zebras United, Democracy Day, Election SOS and many other projects. She’s at the forefront helping journalism and other organizations reimagine their relationships with their communities.

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