Last year, the Aurora Sentinel in Colorado transitioned to a non-profit and immediately began exploring options for community investment. Working closely with Joaquin Alvarado, they are preparing to roll-out a community ownership initiative modeled after Green Bay Packers’ fan-ownership structure.
In this episode of Local News Matters, Dave Perry, editor and publisher of the Aurora Sentinel, and Joaquin Alvarado, founder of Studio To Be, discuss innovative ways to support local journalism, looking to the Packers and cultural institutions like theaters, why philanthropy is not enough and community buy-in is crucial, and why accountability requires news that is grounded in local communities.
(02:58) – Introductions and background
(05:49) – Why it was important to find a new model and keep the Sentinel going
(16:30) – Community ownership and a culture of accountability
(27:25) – Philanthropy is not enough
(29:15) – Reader revenue, paywalls and equity
Listen to the episode here:
- Aurora Sentinel: web, Twitter, Facebook
- Dave Perry: Twitter, LinkedIn
- Joaquin Alvarado: LinkedIn
- Studio To Be
- Local News Matters: web, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
- Colorado Press Association: web, Twitter, Facebook
- Tim Regan-Porter: bio, Twitter
(recorded via Riverside.fm; transcript automated via Castmagic, unedited)
Dave Perry [00:00:00]:
Even though some of the more high profile cases have been covered by local and even national media. The issue is so complex that it would take teams of reporters on a regular basis to really help people understand the depth and scope of that and a whole lot of problems. And that doesn't exist. And it doesn't exist right now that we do the best we can, but that's the challenge that we face, is that there is parachute journalism, not just across the country, but even within a region. And people come on and come and go, and so people get the sense that there is coverage there or an openness or transparency, and it's not true.
Tim Regan-Porter [00:00:45]:
Welcome to 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. In each episode, I sit down with guests from newsrooms and others in the local news ecosystem to highlight the innovative work of local newsrooms and those that support them, as well as the crucial questions they face. This episode, I'm excited to bring you Dave Perry and Joaquin Alvarado to talk about a new community ownership model at the Aurora Sentinel in Aurora, Colorado. Dave Perry is editor and publisher of The Aurora Sentinel, where he's been for almost 30 years. Dave is one of the most respected journalists in the state, and The Sentinel has a reputation in Colorado as consistently doing great work with a small staff. Joaquin Avarado is one of my favorite innovative thinkers in local news. I've known him for over a decade and he served on my Board of Advisors at the center for Collaborative Journalism. Joaquin started the media consulting company Studio to Be and has been helping The Sentinel for the past couple of years. He's Chair of the Consumer Reports Board of Directors and has served as CEO of the center for Investigative Reporting, senior Vice President for Digital Innovation in American Public Media and Senior Vice President for Diversity and Innovation at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He's worked with many leading media companies and foundations, including the Seattle Times, Unavision, NBC News, the Ford Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2007, he launched Coco Studios, an early VR media collaboration platform for fiber and mobile networks. Joaquin was the founding director of the Institute for Next Generation Internet, which launched in 2005 from San Francisco State University. He holds a bachelor's degree in chicano studies from UC berkeley and an MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. You can support this work by doing something that will take you literally 5 seconds to do. And whatever podcast player you use, simply click Follow. If you have five more seconds, click five stars in Apple podcasts. It means a lot. And that is all we ask in exchange for all of the work that goes into this podcast. And now I'm pleased to bring you Dave Perry and Joaquin Alvarado. Why don't we start?
Introductions and background
Dave, why don't you introduce yourself and your role at The Sentinel Colorado and a quick snapshot of your background.
My name is Dave Perry and I'm editor and publisher of the Aurora Sentinel, also known as Sentinel Colorado. And I've been in newspapering now for almost 40 years. This was a second career for me. I wanted to be a doctor, a social worker and found out that I didn't like blood and I don't like bodily fluids. And so my next venture after that was I did like writing. And even though I wanted to be a novelist, the person who created the journalism school at Metro State University saw some of my work and said I was really bad at it. What I needed to do was to take newspapering Journaling classes to be a better writer. And I did, and I fell in love with that. And I've been newspapering ever since then. I've worked for several statewide magazines and The Denver Post and Westward and The Star Tribune when it owned this chain, ended up here to make The Sentinel daily. And we've been moving ahead ever since then.
How long have you been there?
I've been here for almost 30 years now, Joaquin.
Joaquin Alvarado [00:04:13]:
I am accidentally in the newspaper world. I have worked in journalism for about 15 years now. I actually came to it out of sort of public interest broadband and always been an independent media person, but was not focused on journalism until I attended an FTC commission, a workshop on the imminent demise of local journalism. And it scared the hell out of me. And in that same session I met some very still good friends who have been working at different parts of the problem. And I think it was a follow up meeting with one of those folks, Aaron Pilhofer, who at the time was at The New York Times, that I got connected with another good friend, Jennifer Preston. And slowly this prayer bead rosemary of people hoping against hope in a nondenominational way to find a way to save local journalism just kept pulling me in. And then I was doing a project with Colab looking at opportunities to sort of support the great ecosystem of journalism and innovation that's happening in Colorado. And that's when I met Dave. And we sort of reached this important intersection for The Sentinel. And I at the time was interested, let's say, and I know we're going to talk about this tim in how to kind of think differently about ownership models. And so we took the hand off from the previous owner. And since then this is about nine months ago, dave and I have been building a community nonprofit corporation which now owns The Sentinel. I had a six month stint as an owner, but now we are a community nonprofit corporation and we'll soon open up some new ways for the community to actually take ownership.
Why it was important to find a new model and keep the Sentinel going
We'll talk a little bit about that piece of the journey. So about nine months ago, the owner needed to exit and making sure that The Sentinel could keep serving the residents of Aurora was important, I think, to everyone in the ecosystem and certainly important to their residents of Aurora. And Joaquin, I know you were particularly passionate about making sure that this didn't fall by the wayside. Why did you find that particularly important paper to keep going?
Yeah, it was one of the case studies for this project we were doing, or I was doing with Co Lab and we had great partnership with the previous owner. We really took time to think, how can we do the right kind of handoff? And they have another thing that they do in journalism, so they continue to fight a good fight there. But I really recognize in Aurora, my hometown of Oakland, right, incredibly diverse, incredible community dynamic, lot of immigrants and people living side by side with each other. And I went through a loss of a local paper in Oakland thanks to Alden Capital when they closed down the Oakland Tribune. And I know what it looks like to not have a local newsroom. I mean, honestly, it's not good for the community. And I just saw so many similarities in the community and in the folks I was talking to in Aurora. And also Dave and the team are heroes, in my opinion. Like, the amount of coverage they're able to sustain with a very small but mighty team was just inspiring. And I just could not imagine a world where that wasn't a resource and that we weren't trying to find ways to invest in increasing their capacity.
And Dave, you've been there for a while now and I know those of us who were watching what was going on also felt it was very important. Aurora is the third largest, I believe, city in the state. It is abutting Denver, so it's part of the metropolitan area here. But no one else really is focused on the city of Aurora and what's going on with city council and policing day in and day out other than The Sentinel. And it's a majority minority community, I believe. Tell the audience a little bit about the community and your passion for it and the role that The Sentinel plays in life in Aurora.
Aurora has long been in the shadow of Denver, and like a lot of twin communities, it develops without a lot of scrutiny. And while nobody was looking for several decades, aurora grew to be the third largest city here. And because of the dynamic of the community itself, which is really welcoming in a whole lot of ways, because it doesn't have the same political weights that have governed Colorado Springs and Denver and some of the other suburbs as well, that it was just open to become whatever it was and whoever wanted to come here. And so that begat more people who wanted a place to move to where they would be appreciated, to join that. And that's how Aurora became a minority majority city. The community is so diverse here that there are over 130 languages spoken in homes and Aurora Public schools as the native language. And that represents exactly who lives here and what life is like here. It's evolved several times that the community itself was essentially created out here as a place where military families would live. There was Lowry Air Force Base and Fitzsimmons, and people who served there and lived there made homes here. And the city itself just started describing itself. And they were fortunate enough to have the insight back in the stand away from Denver and its power over water and create its own water supply. And that's what's powered the city ever since then, is the ability to develop as it wants when it wants and annex and become larger and larger and larger. And it was a really wise decision. The city itself is just such a mixture of people from all over the world as well as all over the political spectrum that it became a place where almost anything could happen. And anything that could happen was the Gaylord Hotel, which is the largest hotel in Colorado and a resort. There was a group of people here run by Aurora economic development Council that valiantly fought against huge powers and shoots and others in Colorado Springs that wanted to snag that plum hotel. And Aurora was able to maneuver a political and run to its own right to get that hotel out here. Same thing with the Fitzsimmons army base. When that started to collapse, the people who have led the city for a very long time were able to capitalize on a moment and move the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, its medical school and nursing school, the University Hospital, and Children's Colorado to Aurora. So it has started adding really high profile features to the city that have also helped define this. But along the way, what they did was they continued to stand back and look at what the ideal life would be like for people and especially for families. And that's why public schools and parks and recreation programs and a supportive arts environment became really important here. And they focused on those things and they were able to create a space here in the metro area that is unlike anything else here. And you can see that if you drive up and down the main corridors. Habana street here is chock full of some of the most amazing and interesting places to eat and shop that represent cultures from all over the world. And the people who live here are just used to it and they know that that's where you go is the Iraqi family on Parker Road to go get flatbreads. And other people don't enjoy that kind of internationalism and multiculturalism at the same time, though, as the city grew larger and larger. It started having the same problems that other large cities have. And so gangs. When there was a flood of families out of California in the late seventy s and eighty s, denver and Aurora both became places where a lot of those families lighted and so gang plot problems were transplanted out here. The city had a first foray into trying to push back against that and was really in some ways successful into reaching out to communities, but also unsuccessful in that it started understanding what over policing was and they never really recovered from that. That they understood that in this western mentality, which is very libertarian by nature, that letting people have their own lives and also holding them accountable, that they began to overlook a lot of things. And so the police department grew larger. There was an effort to actually fund the largest police department possible by requiring two officers for every 1000 residents in Aurora. That was in the 80s. Right now the, the police department has over 700 sworn officers and a lot of shortages because they can't find fill those jobs. But with this very large police department it also became very insular. And the city council itself and the people overseeing the police department did not pay close enough attention to warning signs that were here and across the country. And so over the past ten years the problems that developed from that became very apparent and then they became very public. And one of the worst of those was the death of Elijah McClain. But there have been a series of episodes of problems from the police department that essentially were created because of a lack of accountability and a lack of transparency. And even though some of the more high profile cases have been covered by local and even national media, the problems and the complexity of the issue is so complex on top of a very large and dynamic city that it would take teams of reporters on a regular basis to really help people understand the depth and scope of that and a whole lot of problems. And that doesn't exist. And it doesn't exist right now that we do the best we can, but that's the challenge that we face is that there is parachute journalism not just across the country, but even within a region. And people come on and come and go and so people get the sense that there is coverage there, or an openness or transparency. And it's not true. That type of news coverage is not the same thing as having a team that regularly presses against people in power making decisions to explain what they're doing and to help the public understand exactly what they're doing by reporting on it.
And the need for that accountability coverage as well as the coverage of the diverse cultural riches that are there is a hole that would open up if the sentinel weren't there for sure. And we'll play a clip from then Representative Sullivan, now Senator Sullivan spoke at a committee hearing last year for a bill we were introducing and his son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting which made national news of course. And he talked about the importance of being able to cover an incident such as that from a local perspective and not just having the parachute journalism Fridays.
Tom Sullivan [00:15:21]:
Since Alex was murdered. And through all of that the people that have really understood and really get what happened that day and how the people in my community were impacted has been the Aurora Sentinel and that's because they're right down the street. They drive by that theater every day. They live with the people who are surviving that day and if they weren't around people wouldn't understand what we go through each and every day. So it is imperative that our local journalists and our local publications have the ability to continue to tell the stories of the people in their communities who are impacted by the day to day things that happen.
Community ownership and a culture of accountability
I think that illustrates the important role the paper plays. And so Joaquin, as you were talking with the old owner and Dave and Colab and all of the other parties thinking about how do you take this institution that is so vital and make it sustainable? What were the considerations and how did you arrive at the community? Nonprofit?
Yeah, let's stay in the zone of culture because I actually feel that a culture of accountability is important. Right. And for many communities that have had all kinds of challenges you depend more, you depend more on accountability the further down the economic ladder you are. Right? Like you need systems to work, you need things to be transparent, you need clarity, you need hard work to be translatable into middle class attainment. Frankly good schools. Right? You should have good schools no matter where you live in a community. Right? And in order to really make sure that things are working you have to include a culture of accountability where people feel like they can trust the system. Right? And when that trust breaks down it's very hard to recapture it. And so again, having a community as diverse as Aurora with so many burgeoning American dreams with so many opportunities being generated I don't even want to ask what the small business generation is in Aurora because I bet it outpaces most places in the country. Right? And we know this about immigrant communities they generate more jobs through small business. Right? So this is the kind of energy we need, we benefit from. So I really believe strongly if you've ever been to any other part of the world that's catching on in the US there's a sport called football. Here we call it soccer. And in many parts of Europe, for example, when a football club would be teetering on the verge of economic collapse or closure, it is a known tradition where the community would step in and actually buy the club. Or if the owners shut it down and took their money elsewhere, they would restart the team they're called Phoenix Football Clubs. And it always rattled in my brain. And there's one great example in the US. Called the Green Bay Packers. Like, why does Green Bay, this town of 100 and something thousand people in Wisconsin, get an NFL team that is capable of winning a Super Bowl? So it's because they have this other form of capitalization. They have this other resource which is based on their relationship to the community called shareholders. Right. And it's a particular feature of their model, which you really can't replicate. This goes back 100 years, but they're able to add like when they need a jumbo tron, they need to improve the stadium facilities, things they needed to do to stay competitive as an NFL team. One of their presidents 30 years ago figured out, oh my gosh, we can go back and reissue more shares and by doing that, bring in capital to make improvements. So that the fan experience, the community experience, and the player experience, right. We remain an attractive, competitive franchise. And so that model, which a lot of people know about, you can ask people, are you a shareholder? And I've got my shares here, which I will I'm going to hold this up. I know this is an audio format, Tim, but I'm going to just visually show you here's the crinkle of my Green Bay Packer share. I'm scratching a share right now, so it's novel, but I thought that it had a certain resonance. And so what we established with help from a great Denver based lawyer, Lee Sacknoff, who also helped, I think, do the legal work for the National Trust for Local News and the Colorado News Conservancy. So it leaves a really important voice from a legal perspective. Dave and I and the core team wanted to create something where we could also offer community shares. And we did want to do that for two reasons. When we talk about equity, we're for real. We want the community to own the equity of this nonprofit corporation. We built a nonprofit corporation board so we have stakeholders. And I'll let Dave tell you who they are because he knows more about this. I mean, I know them, but come on. So we've got a nonprofit board that represents the community, which we're expanding sometime in the mid spring here. We're going to do our first round of issuing shares and they're going to be priced at $10. And if you are a shareholder, whether you have one share or 10,000 shares, and we hope we have a lot of both, you get one vote and the shareholders will elect the slate for the board of directors. They will also help to articulate any opportunity we have to invest in other ways for local journalism to thrive in the community. We're going to help sponsor a journalism camp that Michelle Ansel, one of our board members, runs, and a lot of young high school students participate in this with Colorado State University. So we want people to feel like the Aurora Sentinel community media nonprofit corp, which now owns the Aurora Sentinel newspaper and digital site. It is a community platform. So it is about investing in the newsroom. It is about adding capital for the news gathering operation. We need to increase the salaries and hire more reporters. Like, we have all kinds of needs. We want to be very transparent with the community about your investment equals this. Right. And the first priority is let's increase what we're able to pay folks, because, again, we got to pay living wages and let's try to add capacity to the newsroom. So the first round of shares will go directly towards those costs. But I think this summer, Dave, we've got our first camp we're helping to sponsor for Michelle students. We've got all kinds of other ideas in mind. But critically, we want the community to feel like they own this thing, they have the equity in it, and they have some power to help guide its future and hold us accountable, hold the institution accountable for doing the right job, doing a good job for Aurora.
And just to set aside confusion without getting into all the legal aspects of it, these are not shareholders in the traditional sense of a for profit company, right?
Correct. There's no dividend. And this is thank God for Lee Sacknoff. We have a shareholder agreement which spells out these are non transferable. You're not going to get money at the end of it. It's a well designed structure. Right. But you do get these rights as a member, right. You get to vote on the Board of Supervisors, you'll come to the shareholder meetings, you'll get the annual report with our financial reports. Like, you really participate in a way that I think is different than just being a member of public radio or a donor or something. We still will have those functions. But we want people to add this other piece, which is, I am part of this community. I own the news operation in partnership with the rest of the community. Right. So really to make it something that is as democratic as possible and can never be taken away, there's no hedge fund that can come in and buy out this community. Right. That's the other protection that we want to ensure.
And Dave, talk about your vantage point. You've been there for a long time on the editorial side and you've had a publisher, and now you're stepping in increasingly into the business side. How is that for you and what is the relationship like now with the community and what's your hopes for how this evolves?
Probably the AHA moment I had with this after Joaquin described it, because there was no AHA for me understanding the parallel between an NFL team out in the Midwest someplace and a newspaper here in Aurora. And so we went out there to their annual shareholder meeting and I was able to talk to people who had shares. And the response I got repeatedly just from walking up to people and going, why are you here during a really nice summer day in July? And why would you give money to a clearly wealthy NFL enterprise here? And they said, oh yeah, I've got my worthless piece of paper right here and everybody carries their stockholder agreement around with them at these meetings. And then seconds after they would tell me how worthless this piece of paper was, they told me how valuable that team was to Green Bay on many levels and none of them being able to watch a football game in town. This team essentially provides for the reality and the existence of Green Bay that would not exist. And so that they proudly were able to give money, not so that they could direct what was going on down at the field, but what they wanted to be able to do is to ensure that this team stays exactly where it is and provides an infrastructure to keep it going. And that that infrastructure in the the form of parks and in laboratories where small businesses are developed adjacent to the stadium continues. There's just huge payback for them on having it there and providing for them. I feel the same way that that's what's happening here in people that I talk to. We have plenty of critics, just like every other newspaper about some of the things that we rate and the things that we cover and the things we don't cover. But by and large, when I'm out and about talking with people, there is a huge appreciation that we're here, that we're watching, and that they can depend on us to provide accountability that nobody else does, that this is not a place that's so large and there's so much going on here that just stop by once in a while when something is extremely important or urgent is not the same thing as being there every single day. As much as we can to tell people here's what's happening now, and then follow up with that story several times to say, here's what they said they were going to do, here's how that worked out. That just really brings with people, I think, that they understand in a place where there's so much information from so many places, the one thing they can do is continue to depend on a local newspaper just to be there.
And David, this is also, I mean, I'm just so impressed with the prep sports coverage that you guys maintain. Again, think sense of community, sense of culture. Where do all of these diverse kids end up? They end up at school together, right? What do you do that is celebrated and universally engaged in sports. So can you give us just 30 seconds on that? Because I think it's one of the great things about The Sentinel.
Almost single handedly, our sports editor here, who is God in Colorado, that he is louded across the state for his efforts in making sure that he's able to tell the story quickly of game by game what happens at 16 schools across the city. More importantly, he tells the story of these kids as they start their high school careers and then end them and go on to college and even beyond. And that's his reputation and the paper's reputation, is being able to tell the victories and the losses of these kids across the city that come from all over the world and all over the country and lead really different kinds of lives that have a very shared experience.
Philanthropy is not enough
Yeah, I mean, this is again, nobody else could do this or would do it. Also, Karina, who's one of the great emerging journalists, I don't want to say young, but just great, amazing journalists whose long form stuff is as good as it gets, also is covering the one woman theater piece that gets put up in Aurora. I mean, it's just like this is how culture, I think, sustains itself. One other thing too, Tim, which I think is so important. Philanthropy has a huge role to play in transforming investing, growing local journalism. And I don't like using the term saving local journalism, but in some cases we do need to save it, because if you lose an institution, they don't come back that easily. It took Oakland, I think, ten years before we had a nonprofit newsroom, which I was on the board of, called the City Side, which has Berkeley side, and then started Oakland side, took ten years, took millions of dollars in foundation money to restart it. So on the one hand, keeping things going to me is a much easier way to maintain capacity. But there's also the reality that there's not enough philanthropy in the country to pay for all the journalism that we've already like. We can't recapture what we've lost and we can't make all the investments that we need to make through philanthropy. It's not going to save jobs in most communities. So that's why we also needed to develop a mechanism here in addition to philanthropy to ask the community to be a part of that transformation. I think it's really important. It's true in Oakland, I think it's true in Aurora. Again, they're not wealthy enough these are not wealthy enough cities to just have a few people write a big check. It ain't going to happen that way. We need something that's ten to $50. We need people to think about this like, hey, I'm going to make that investment in the same way that I'm going to join the PTA. It's hard work. Yeah, it costs a few bucks, but at the end of the day, if. You want your school to work, you got to be a part of it. If you want your local news to work, you got to be a part of it.
Reader revenue, paywalls and equity
One of the things I like about what you're doing there, there's a lot of talk in the industry about growing reader revenue. It's been an industry that's predominantly dependent on advertising. Advertising still is an important part of your makeup, your revenue. But particularly in communities with such diversity, growing reader revenue, I have concerns if we just go to paywalls, right, that causes equity issues. And so you've coming at equity from a whole different standpoint with literal equity. So talk a little bit about your thinking about that because this is more than even just like a membership, you're giving people votes. They're really having a say in a way that just a donation program doesn't.
Well, and I know I'll do 2 seconds here, but I think Dave should also hit on the advertising thing. Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I think that successful metros right now, especially the independent one, Saddle Times, Star Tribune, they're doing really well with their paywalls. They need those paywalls at the size scale to make those economics work, more power to them. Right. They also do a lot of philanthropically funded work that has a high impact. So we like that. We learned a lot from those models. I think in a community like Aurora, different economic environment, we don't want to lock anyone out. That's really critical. And again, I just go back to this idea of I think people want to be a part of the solution. They need ways to contribute that feel like not just transactional but feel relational. And if we don't rebuild that relationship, no amount of good journalism or great advertising or philanthropy is going to do anything to preserve journalism going forward. This is about the relationship. But Dave just by the way, Dave's been doing an amazing job of hiring Dave. Share with the listeners what's happening at the Sentinel.
One thing that the Pandemic made clear, more clear than anything is how critical it is to be able to get and provide information to everybody without restriction. That solidified our commitment to not having a paywall here, that we get the understanding that the convenience of having news delivered in a certain format in print to your home or something that is different than just how everybody else can access it is important and worth paying for. But just being able to find out whether or not there's a mass mandate at your school or whether how you can get a COVID vaccine or whether or not the police department is being held accountable on something, those are too important to provide, force people to pay to get that kind of information. And so we're committed to making sure exactly what you're saying that this is an equity issue here. The other thing we found out is we're not in this alone. And that's one thing I would recommend to other newspaper executives is we have seen ourselves as insular and competitive for too long. And the one thing that we're finding a huge success here is in collaborating with people. And so we're working with other newspaper companies here in the metro area to share advertising revenues and create joint projects that look really promising. Because Aurora is such a diverse community, there's ethnic media here that serves their own constituencies and communities that are really struggling too. And so we're bringing them on board with a shared revenue idea that we can sell advertising into each other's newspapers and work with each other and not against each other. And I think that's a really smart thing to do since we've created a different vibe here for a newspaper company that really is committed to the community in ways that go way beyond just what our shared interest in the First Amendment and good journalism. We're drawing other people that share that same commitment. We're really fortunate that we brought on three advertising executives here who really understand that this isn't just about making goals and commissions, that we have a really important job here to do, and that there's different ways that we can go out and approach members of the community to join us in that effort and so we can sponsor things for them. We're sponsoring several events for the mall and for museums and a lot of very large entities here in Aurora. At the same time, we want them to help us sponsor what we're doing too. And it's a different kind of strategy that seems to be resonating with a lot of businesses and organizations here in Aurora. And we're fortunate to have people that are willing and adept to carry that message out.
Yeah, I think that's an important point. I came from the magazine world, and in some magazines, the advertising is part of the content, it's part of the surface to the readers. And I think in a local level, there's definitely a symbiotic relationship or there can be between local media and the advertisers if people want to know what's going on in local businesses, businesses want to get their word out. And I think that's the way you're approaching it, I think, is something I'd like to see more of. We heard the first podcast from Soper Sun leaning into their nonprofit status, really partnering with businesses, say, let's work together to get the news out about what you're doing, and you are supporting the community by keeping us going. So I think that's valuable, and I'll just want to put a pin in the paywall discussion because I'm not anti paywall, but The Guardian has shown, even at large scale, Guardian US anyway, can generate a lot of money by just pestering people and saying, if you want to see support this work, support it. The Colorado Sun is doing very well, and they do not do a paywall. They also just say, hey, if you want this work, support it. And so I'm really interested to see what happens here, because there aren't that many examples, I think, at the local.
Level where we're breaking new ground. Tim, I'm not usually the one to caution anyone. I'm like full steam ahead. But we don't think of the shareholder thing as a gimmick. We don't think of it as a fast burning. This is a slow burn, and it might take us five years to get all the way there. That's okay. The Sentinel is 100 whatever years old. But I have felt for a long time we're missing something. Right. Because we're not able to take all the good work that's been happening for the last 20 years and all the new philanthropy, and even in Colorado, which has more going on with you. Colab colorado Media Project, gates Family Foundation everybody's at the table. It's still not enough. And ultimately, I really trust Americans. I actually trust community members to take care of themselves if there's accountability, transparency, opportunity, creativity, community. Right. That's what community does. And so we need to unlock ways. I don't think this will be the last way we figure this out, but it's new ground, and it's going to take time. Right. Because we really are about investing in that relationship in a way that is different. Because what happened in Oakland, nobody got a vote. When Alden decided to kill the Oakland Tribune off, there was no conversation. But we also got lackadaisical about our relationship to the Tribune, like we were fading out. It was a mutual disconnect. And once that happens, it's so hard to get that trust back. Right? And so I really do feel strongly like we're going to ask people who care about this community to step up in a way that's different. And then we have to also meet them halfway in that relationship. And I want to shout out our board of directors. Awesome. I know we only have a few minutes. Dave, will you just go down the list of Aurora stars that we've got on this thing?
Sure. One of the first appointed was Bob Laguer, who was a former mayor of Aurora and a lifelong Republican. Michelle Ansel, who worked diligently in both school districts here in the marketing divisions and public relations divisions for decades. She's now a journalism professor at Colorado State University. Also Jovan Mays, who was Aurora's public laureate. He is now working for Aurora Public Schools on a regular basis as a writing coach for students who are at risk. And also Terry Tuchahara Dirks, who is seen as almost an influencer here in Aurora. She and her husband are longtime business members and activists within their own school district and are really well known and respected for leading all kinds of community efforts and are leading another one now here on the board. And so those are our first board members and there are more to come.
And we're running up against time here, so maybe we'll have to have a part two to talk about how this is playing out. One of the things that's exciting for me to see just what we've talked about is a lot in just nine months. But it's not like this has been the only thing going on. The great reporting has continued. You've had the great hires on sales. You've got new programs. Joaquin was mentioning to me before you got on Dave about the investigative Reporting lab. And in the blue, there's a lot going on. This isn't just about crisis mode and trying to figure out the funding. You are building an institution with capacity and continuing to focus on serving the community. So I want to commend you on that, and I really want to hear more about all of that.
Well, Tim, thanks for having us. Yes, we definitely need part two. We actually need eight episodes of your show. We're willing to sort of distribute those across the calendar year. But there's a lot going on, and I want to just think it would be hard to describe how hard Dave works, and I know this is true for many, many folks running newsrooms across the state and across the country. There's no other job that asks you to do what we're asking Dave to do, and he does it every single day. Elegantly and at times improvisationally, but you see the results, and I think it's good for the community despite it all.
Before I tell you every time I'm meeting with my peers, we all still agree it's the best job in the world.
What a great note to end on. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for listening to the local newsmatters podcast, and thanks to Dave and Joaquin for your time and all the work you do. Check back next episode for my conversation with Charity Huff of January Spring, where we'll delve into trends in digital advertising, offer a primer for those that can't tell their DSPs from their SSPs, and discuss a new digital ad product we developed here at the Colorado Press Association. A final thanks to our production partners at Pirate Audio. 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. If you're interested in starting a podcast or need production support for an existing one, let me know and I'll be happy to connect you. If you like this episode and what we're doing more generally, please follow in your favorite podcast app, leave us a five star review on Apple podcast, and tell your friends about us. I appreciate the support. You can find past episodes, full transcripts and relevant links, and sign up for our email@example.com or for lazy typists like firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also follow us on most social media channels at lnmpod. If you have recommendations of others doing interesting and innovative work in local news. Let me know through the contact form at the website lnmpod.com.