DAISY BABER – Lyons Journalist, 1920-40s
COLORADO PRESS WOMEN 80 YEARS – visits to small town newspapers
BUELL PUBLIC MEDIA CENTER – new home of dozens of media/newspapers
CRUMBLING LOCAL NEWSPAPERS – news threatened by syndicates and social media
As part of the 80th anniversary of Colorado Press Women, the list of original members revealed that member Daisy Baber was a journalist with the Lyons Recorder. She wrote for the newspaper in the 1920s, 1930s, and into the 1940s. Her column “Penny Thoughts” shared her life philosophy with readers. She also wrote poems for the paper, which were later published in “Ideals” magazine. The obituaries that she wrote were more than a list of family members. She told the person’s life story. For example, she wrote about a teacher who was praised for his handwriting, and who taught children how to properly hold a pen. Another article was honoring a man who helped miners who caught the black coal lung disease.
She wrote two books, which described life of local settlers. The 1940 book, “The Longest Rope,” is based on eye-witness accounts by William Walker. It was used in many schools as a reference book of authentic Americana. She spent eight years researching the facts. Her other book was “Injun Summer.” The Lyons Redstone Museum has a copy of both of these rare books.
As editor of the Lyons Recorder, I was pleased to accept Daisy’s Certificate of Recognition, and told the audience about her. I joined a group of Press Club members this past summer to go to some of the original members’ newspaper offices to present Certificates to the current owners. (In recent summers, the group has visited members in Alamosa, Canon City, Trinidad, and Grand Junction). But, only Lyons (thanks to Frank Weaver) had a biography of a founding member to share.
It was sad to see small town newspaper offices reduced from dozens of reporters to mostly one reporter and one editor. They visited the Canon City Daily Record and the Valley Courier/Alamosa. Valley Courier has its own printing presses (see photo below) which are used to print the local fliers, announcements, signs, menus, wedding invitations, and more. The income keeps the newspaper thriving and able to print the local newspaper.
Colorado Press Women was founded 80 years ago by a statewide consortium of women who primarily covered community news for their local newspapers. Since the topic of the anniversary meeting was about the survival of small town newspapers in Colorado, I described how the publication of the Lyons Recorder is not only essential because of its ability to publish timely news (like road construction work or wildfires), but also because it captures the day-to-day life of Lyons for the archives. For example, for the “1 Year Anniversary of COVID,” 24 articles were written by Lyons people with diverse life situations or occupations about how they survived.
Colorado Press Women Program
While the general public may not be interested in the journalists meeting details, some may be interested to know that several radio/newspaper media sources have joined together and have located themselves in one building in downtown Denver this past year: Buell Public Media Center. This way they can share space, expenses and news. Below are the details of the meeting.
CPW historian Lee Ann Peck gave an overview of the CPW group across the decades. There were 58 charter members in January 1942 (including Daisy Baber). It is impressive to think that the group consisted of some female newspaper publishers and/or editors in the 1940s.
The group’s highlights were:
= fighting for children’s and women’s rights
= helping to bring the state’s capital to Denver.
= supporting Freedom of Information Act
= getting legislation passed that requires teaching media literacy in the K-12 curriculum.
They have held four national conferences of the National Federal of Press Women in Colorado. People from any aspect of media can join Colorado Press Women, such as reporters, publishers, professors, graphic designers, etc.
Linda Shapley, was the keynote speaker. She was named publisher of Colorado Community Media in July.
==Her background: A longtime denizen of Colorado journalism, Shapley has a 30-year history at news publications including the Greeley Tribune, The Denver Post and Colorado Politics, as well as a volunteer on the boards of Colorado State University’s student media alumni group, the Denver Press Club and Society for News Design.
==Her current position: She leads CCM’s two-dozen small Colorado newspapers and websites as the company’s first publisher since its spring sale to The Colorado News Conservancy, a partnership of The Colorado Sun and the National Trust for Local News dedicated to fostering community journalism. The newspapers serve Adams, Arapahoe, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Jefferson and Weld counties, reaching more than 300,000 people each week.
One-of-a-kind hub for Colorado’s leaders in public media and journalism.
Following the presentations, participants toured the newly opened Buell Public Media Center, which is the new home of :
Rocky Mountain Public Media—parent company of Rocky Mountain PBS (KRMA Channel 6) and KUVO Jazz 89.3-FM. ==The new base for Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), The Associated Press, Chalkbeat Colorado, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, Colorado Media Project, Colorado Press Association, The Colorado Sun, KGNU Community Radio and Open Media Foundation== as well as Metzler Family Learning Center, Masterpiece Studio, Bonfils-Stanton Performance Studio ==and the 5,000-square-foot Community Media Center, a classroom and production workspace for students supported by Emily Griffith Technical College and the city and county of Denver.
Crumbling local news
NOTE FROM EDITOR: A local person sent me a link to an article in The Atlantic about a small town newspaper that was taken over by a syndicate. The article was so well written, and detailed, that I decided to add the link to this “newspaper/news” article.
It described how a big nationwide company bought the newspaper –a publishing company called GateHouse, run by an investment firm in New York which had already bought 121 daily papers, 316 weeklies. They promised to keep the news local and not change things. But within months all the local editors and reporters were gone, and the building sold. News was mainly taken from the nationwide newspapers, and little about local happenings. (Larger newspaper examples of cutting staff and diluting the content were the Pueblo Chieftain and Denver Post.)
Note – In 2019, GateHouse bought USA Today publisher Gannett and took its more well-known name. At the time, Gannett owned more than 100 daily papers, and after the merger, the company owned one out of every six newspapers in the country.
LOCAL EFFORT TO PROVIDE NEWS CONNECTION FAILS:
To replace the newspaper that they lost, the residents of the small town of Burlington started a Social Media page to submit their own local news (eg, why is the light still out? was that car crash intentional?), but theories, rumors and disagreements ran rampant. One politician lost an election because of lies spread on the page. Social ties crumbled because it was hard to find out what was happening in town, and people said they felt they were on islands. They lost touch with town hall, the town’s economy, health threats and more. The repository (at the library/museum) that the newspaper provided of community news was lost for future generations.
We are fortunate in Lyons to have a monthly and weekly newspaper which captures the town’s important stories and issues. Please support the newspapers to preserve the useful information. Grassroots journalism represented in small town and county newspapers is powerful, and with even the bigger newspapers being taken over by syndicates, it is the predicted form for the survival of genuine local news.
You can donate to the Lyons Recorder, which offers news without a “Pay Wall,” and not filled with ads, …and show your support of keeping small town newspapers alive.