10 Years!

2020 marked our 1oth year of operations at Aspen Journalism, which we launched Jan. 17, 2011. 

Journalism and Organizational Capacity 2011 – 2020 

Here’s how the decade looks, in three key graphs:

In our newsroom, we finished 2020 with two full-time professional, experienced journalists and an expenditure of $88,000 on professional freelance reporting, editing and photography. We consider the freelance expenditures to represent about 1.5 FTE.

Aspen Journalism founder Brent Gardner-Smith transitioned out of the newsroom midyear — stepping out of his roles as editor, reporter and photographer — and became the organization’s full-time executive director. He remains equal to 1 FTE in the organization but is no longer counted in the newsroom tally. On the business side of the organization, where Gardner-Smith now works, about $25,000 was spent in 2020 on contract marketing and design services, which we consider to be equal to about .25 FTE.

As such, our total journalism capacity at the end of 2020 was 3.5 FTE and our total organizational capacity was 4.75 FTE. By comparison, at the end of 2019, we had 3 FTE in the newsroom and 4 FTE in the organization. We are an efficient, effective nonprofit organization. 

Our Approach to Reporting in 2020

Curtis Wackerle started as full-time editor of Aspen Journalism in July. He is also serving as the editor and reporter on the Connie Harvey Environment Desk.

Heather Sackett remains as managing editor of Aspen Journalism and editor and reporter on our Water Desk. 

For the second year, we worked with The Water Desk at the University of Colorado Boulder to produce stories written by freelance water reporters in collaboration with Swift Communications newspapers. 

Freelance journalists we paid in 2020 include Allen Best, Lauren Blair, Tim Cooney, M. John Fayhee, Lindsay Fendt, John Herrick, Christin Kay, Natalie Keltner-McNeil, Marcie Krivonen, Laurine Lassalle, Catherine Lutz, Stephen Miller, Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Sarah Tory, Dale Ulland and David Williams.

We published stories and projects directly in collaboration with 10 news organizations: The Aspen Times, Aspen Public Radio, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the Vail Daily, the Summit Daily, the Sky-Hi News, the Craig Press, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Aspen Daily News and KUNC.

As part of our collaboration with KUNC, we also worked indirectly with The Nevada Independent and KJZZ. And as a member of the Colorado News Collaborative, we joined the AP Storyshare platform in 2020, posting 17 stories shared and available for pickup from a long list of news organizations across the state. 

Water Meetings Attended

As is our consistent practice, we informed our reporting by defining a beat and then attending informative meetings relevant to that beat, especially on our Water Desk.

Below is the list of the 67 water meetings, seminars, tours and conference calls that Heather Sackett, lead editor and reporter on our water desk, attended or monitored via Zoom, beginning last March. (Reporter Lauren Blair attended the first meeting on the list.)

Jan. 8: Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable, Craig 
Jan. 15: Audubon of the Rockies: 2020 a Big Year for Rivers, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction
Jan. 16: Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board, Basalt
Jan. 21-22: Colorado River District quarterly meeting, Glenwood Springs
Jan. 27-28: Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), Westminster
Jan. 29-31: Colorado Water Congress, Westminster
Feb. 12: Crystal River augmentation plan stakeholders meeting, Carbondale
Feb. 13: Anchor ice presentation, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Basalt
Feb. 20: Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board, Aspen
Feb. 24: Colorado River Basin Roundtable (CBRT), Glenwood Springs
March 3: Ag Impacts Demand Management Workgroup, Denver
March 4: Demand Management Workshop/combined IBCC meeting, Lakewood
March 11-12, CWCB, Lakewood
March 11: Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable, Lauren Blair, Craig
April 1: Historic User Pool (HUP) conference call on Colorado River
April 8: HUP call
April 14: South Platte Basin Roundtable
April 16: Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board
April 21: Colorado River District quarterly board meeting
April 27: CBRT Next Steps meeting
May 7: NOAA Colorado River Forecast Center webinar
May 8: Demand management webinar
May 13: Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable
May 14: Demand management committee meeting on Ag impacts
May 15: Demand management meeting on monitoring and verification
May 18: Colorado Basin Roundtable
May 19: Coordinated Reservoir Operations call on managing flows in Colorado River
May 20: CWCB
May 21: Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board
June 22: Colorado Basin Roundtable Basin Implementation Plan meeting
June 24: HUP call
June 24: Colorado River District, state of the Gunnison River meeting
July 2: Marble Town Council meeting
July 8: HUP call
July 8: Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable
July 15-16: CWCB
July 21: Colorado River District quarterly board meeting
July 27: Colorado River Basin Roundtable
Aug. 25, 27, Sept. 3, 8, 10: Colorado Water Congress
Aug. 27: Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board
Sept. 2: Demand management briefing to CWCB members
Sept. 3: Post-Grizzly Creek fire mitigation planning meeting
Sept. 10: Crystal River Caucus
Sept. 15: Getches-Wilkinson Center, CU Law School, on water financing options
Sept. 15: Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners
Sept. 16-17: CWCB
Sept. 16: Tour of Ruedi Reservoir, Roaring Fork Conservancy
Sept. 21-24: Colorado River District Annual Seminar
Sept. 24: Getches-Wilkinson Center, Water Markets and Investments in Ag
Sept. 28: Colorado River Basin Roundtable
Oct. 7: Colorado legislative anti-speculation work group meeting
Oct. 21: Colorado River District quarterly meeting
Oct. 26: Colorado River Basin Roundtable
Oct. 28: Rio Blanco Conservancy District Board meeting
Nov. 4-5: Colorado Mesa University Hutchins Water Center annual water forum
Nov. 9: Colorado legislative anti-speculation work group meeting
Nov. 11: Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable
Nov. 12: Crystal River Caucus
Nov. 16: Gunnison River Basin Roundtable
Nov. 17: Economic Impact of River Recreation in CO, Roaring Fork Conservancy
Nov. 18-19: CWCB
Nov. 19: Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board
Nov 23: Colorado Basin Roundtable
Dec. 3: Colorado River District Board
Dec. 16 State legislative anti-speculation committee meeting
Dec. 17: Pitkin County Healthy Rivers
Dec. 18: Colorado River Water Users Association

Story Production and Publication 

We produced and published 96 stories in 2020, including 65 from our Water Desk, 22 from our Connie Harvey Environment Desk, four from our COVID-19 Desk (including “Tracking the Curve”), three from our Aspen History Desk and two election stories.

The 65 stories from our Water Desk in 2020 were written by either Heather Sackett (42 stories), Lindsay Fendt (six), David Williams (six), Natalie Keltner-McNeil (four), Allen Best (two), Tom Lotshaw (one), Lauren Blair (one), Sarah Tory (one), Christin Kay (one) or John Herrick (one). Among the Water Desk’s goals for 2020 was to produce approximately 50 stories.

Of the stories published on the Water Desk, 22 were produced on a fee-for-story basis with The Water Desk at CU and written by freelance reporters.

Of the stories written for Aspen Journalism’s Water Desk in 2020, almost all were published by a Swift Communications newspaper: 49 by The Aspen Times, 18 by the Steamboat Pilot & Today, 14 by the Vail Daily, 12 by the Ski-Hi News, nine by the Craig Press, nine by the Summit Daily and eight by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Also, Aspen Public Radio, KUNC and KJZZ each broadcast one of our water stories, and the Rio Blanco Herald Times published two of them.

Additionally, the Coyote Gulch published 53 of our water stories and The Water Desk at CU published 33 stories. Also, 21 stories were featured in an edition of the Colorado River Water Conservation District News Drop, an aggregated newsletter of water stories.

Twenty-two of Aspen Journalism’s stories in 2020 came from the Connie Harvey Environment Desk, with Elizabeth Stewart-Severy writing 14 stories, Curtis Wackerle and Catherine Lutz each writing two stories, and Marci Krivonen, Olivia Emmer and Laurine Lassalle each writing one.

Of the 22 stories produced by the environment desk, 18 were published by The Aspen Times, 10 were broadcast on Aspen Public Radio (in the form of either a radio story or a reporter “two-way” with a host), three each were published by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and the Sky-Hi News, two by the Craig Press, and one each by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and 9News. Additionally, the Coyote Gulch published four of them.

Aspen Journalism last year also launched a COVID-19 Desk, which produced four stories, two by Curtis Wackerle and two by Laurine Lassalle, including “Tracking the Curve,” a informational post of regional numbers and updated every weekday beginning in March. The Aspen Times published three stories from our COVID-19 Desk, and the Vail Daily published one story.

Our Aspen History Desk last year published three stories, all of which were written by Tim Cooney and published by the Aspen Daily News. The News Drop also featured two of our history stories.

Finally, we published one story and a Q&A sidebar about the 3rd Congressional District race last fall, with that story, by M. John Fayhee, published by the Aspen Daily News.

The total numbers of Aspen Journalism stories published, broadcast or featured in 2020 are listed below:

Aspen Journalism: 96

Swift Communications newspapers

The Aspen Times: 70
Steamboat Pilot: 19
Vail Daily: 15
Sky-Hi News: 15
Glenwood Springs Post Independent: 11
Craig Press: 11
Summit Daily: 9

Other news organizations

Aspen Daily News: 4
Aspen Public Radio: 11
Rio Blanco Herald Times: 2
KUNC: 1
The Nevada Independent: 1
KJZZ: 1
9News: 1

Other publishing platforms

Coyote Gulch: 57
The Water Desk at CU: 33
Colorado River Water Conservation District News Drop: 23

All of our stories were also published on the Aspen Journalism website under a Creative Commons license, which allows any other publication or website to publish them under our guidelines.

 

List of Stories Produced by Aspen Journalism in 2020

Water Desk

State looking to oppose White River storage project in water court
By Heather Sackett, Jan. 20
Craig Press, Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Colorado River District revisiting mill levy increase
By Heather Sackett, Jan. 26
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch

Garfield County to lease its Ruedi Res. water to help endangered fish in Colorado River
By Heather Sackett, Feb. 6
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Owners of Eagle River Village mobile-home park defend water quality
By David O. Williams, Feb. 12
Vail Daily, The Water Desk at CU

Mobile-home residents stuck in a regulatory roundabout
By David O. Williams, Feb. 13
Vail Daily, The Water Desk at CU, Real Vail

Quarry in Marble facing scrutiny from federal, state regulators in wake of diesel spill
By Heather Sackett, Feb. 22
The Aspen Times, The Water Desk at CU

Cloud seeding study validates ski industry staple
By David O. Williams, Feb. 25
Vail Daily, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Colorado bill to expand loan of water to the environment has wide support
By Heather Sackett, March 1
The Aspen Times, Sky-Hi News, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Pitkin County moves ahead with $1 million river project
By Heather Sackett, March 8
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

Dillon Reservoir water-monitoring program changing, scaling back
By Tom Lotshaw, March 9
Summit Daily

New law strengthens historical agricultural water uses
By Lauren Blair, March 23
Craig Press, Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

State demand-management investigation moves ahead
By Heather Sackett, March 24
Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop, The Water Desk at CU

Colorado water officials to hoarders during COVID-19 crisis: Quit buying bottled water
By David O. Williams, March 28
The Aspen Times, Vail Daily, Summit Daily, Steamboat Pilot, Sky-Hi News, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop, Water News Network

Marble-quarry operators violated Clean Water Act, Army Corps of Engineers finds
By Heather Sackett, March 30
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, CRWCD News Drop, The Water Desk at CU

Shoshone agreement keeps water flowing down Colorado River while hydro plant is inoperable
By Heather Sackett, April 6
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Water from retired coal plants could help endangered fish in the Yampa River
By Allen Best, April 7
Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Streamflow forecast down for Roaring Fork despite above-normal snowpack
By Heather Sackett, April 13
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

How a high-elevation irrigation study in Kremmling could help Colorado avoid future water shortages
By Sarah Tory, April 17
Sky-Hi News, The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Major South Platte River basin project would maximize reuse of Western Slope water, report says
By Lindsay Fendt, April 27
The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press, Sky-Hi News, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop, The Water Desk at CU

Crystal River Ranch near Carbondale seeks to preserve water rights tied to potential dams, reservoirs
By Heather Sackett, May 4
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Survey finds support for Colorado River District ballot measure
By Heather Sackett, May 12
The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press, Sky-Hi News, Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch

The delicate dance of Dillon Reservoir during spring runoff
By David O. Williams, May 18
Summit Daily, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop, The Water Desk at CU

City of Aspen banks on creative thinking for ATM water project
By Heather Sackett, May 29
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Western Colorado water purchases stir up worries about the future of farming
By Heather Sackett and KUNC’s Luke Runyon, May 29
The Aspen Times, Sky-Hi News, KUNC, KJZZ, Nevada Independent, Coyote Gulch

Roaring Fork River expected to peak early
By Heather Sackett, June 5
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Colorado’s oldest water rights get extra protection from state engineer
By Heather Sackett, June 22
The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU, CRWCD News Drop

Boating survey aims for better river management for recreation
By Heather Sackett, June 30
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

Forest Service flooded with comments opposing Whitney Reservoir, drilling
By David O. Williams, July 10
Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Alternative plan to Wild and Scenic River designation for upper Colorado River OK’d
By Heather Sackett, July 11
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch,The Water Desk at CU

Colorado official says demand management program holds water
By Heather Sackett, July 19
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU, Water Education Foundation

River District will ask voters for tax increase
By Heather Sackett, July 22
The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot, Sky-Hi News, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Inspectors at Ruedi Reservoir are first line of defense against growing threat of invasive mussels
By Christin Kay, July 28
Aspen Public Radio

Hard-to-predict water year leaves Ruedi Reservoir levels low
By Heather Sackett, Aug. 7
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

State officials say Yampa water users are complying with measuring requirement
By Heather Sackett, Aug. 17
Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press, The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Concerns rise over Grizzly Creek Fire’s impact on Colorado River’s endangered fish downstream
By Heather Sackett, Aug. 26
The Aspen Times, Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop, The Water Desk at CU

Dillon Reservoir water levels hold on despite statewide drought
By Lindsay Fendt, Aug. 28
Summit Daily, Sky-Hi News, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU, CRWCD News Drop

CD3 candidates agree on protecting Western Slope water, reservoir enlargements
By Heather Sackett, Aug. 29
The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Aspen officials want more data to plan for drought, seeking $59,000 for more tools
By Heather Sackett, Sept. 3
The Aspen Times, The Water Desk at CU, CRWCD News Drop

Pitkin County launches project to restore wetland at North Star Preserve near Aspen
By Natalie Keltner-McNeil, Sept. 5
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Water released from Elkhead Reservoir lifts call on Yampa River
By Allen Best, Sept. 8
Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch

Pitkin County’s opposition to tax follows pattern of ‘misalignment’ with River District
By Heather Sackett, Sept. 17
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

Reservoir-release pilot project in Colorado begins this week to test possible compact call
By Heather Sackett, Sept. 23
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Pitkin County groups concerned about marble quarry’s impacts on waterways
By Heather Sackett, Sept. 28
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

White River dam and reservoir project headed for water court trial
By Heather Sackett, Oct. 6
Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press, Sky-Hi News, Rio Blanco Herald Times, Coyote Gulch

Even in a pandemic, drought drives water use along the Front Range
By Lindsay Fendt, Oct. 7
Summit Daily, Sky-Hi News, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Aspen water users meet cutback goals, cutting use by 20% since Sept. 1
By Natalie Keltner-McNeil, Oct. 11
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

Ballot measure 7A draws wide support for Colorado River Water Conservation District
By Heather Sackett, Oct. 15
The Aspen Times, Vail Daily, Summit Daily, Craig Press

Weak 2020 water year comes to a close
By Lindsay Fendt, Oct. 22
The Aspen Times, Summit Daily, Vail Daily, Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Record number of mussel-contaminated watercraft intercepted in Colorado amid COVID-19 boating surge
By Lindsay Fendt, Oct. 26
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU, CRWCD News Drop

Study finds small number of jobs lost under demand-management program
By Heather Sackett, Oct. 29
The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot, CRWCD News Drop, The Water Desk at CU

State officials set sights on ponds without water rights
By Heather Sackett, Nov. 2
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Voters overwhelmingly pass Colorado River District tax hike
By Heather Sackett, Nov. 4
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Summit Daily, Vail Daily, Steamboat Pilot, Sky-Hi News, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop, The Water Desk at CU

Shoshone power plant outages concern Glenwood Canyon water users
By Lindsay Fendt, Nov. 13
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Quarry near Marble proposes leaving relocated creek where it is
By Heather Sackett, Nov. 16
The Aspen Times

Glenwood Springs gets $8 million loan for water-system upgrades following Grizzly Creek Fire
By Heather Sackett, Nov. 19
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Vail Resorts’ cancellation of cloud seeding this winter could mean less water in streams
By Heather Sackett, Nov. 28
Vail Daily, Summit Daily, Sky-Hi News, The Aspen Times, CRWCD News Drop

State water board approves second phase of investigation into demand-management program
By Heather Sackett, Nov. 28
The Aspen Times, Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch

Gunnison River, with elevated selenium levels, faces review for reclassification
By Natalie Keltner-McNeil, Dec. 3
The Aspen Times, 9News, Coyote Gulch, The Water Desk at CU

Program expanding to map Colorado mountain snowpack
By Heather Sackett, Dec. 7
The Aspen Times,, Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch, CRWCD News Drop

Colorado River District lays out framework for new taxpayer-funded grant program
By Heather Sackett, Dec. 10
The Aspen Times, Craig Press, Coyote Gulch

Local groups want mitigation, public hearing on marble quarry water issue
By Heather Sackett, Dec. 21
The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

Depositions delve into state engineers’ questions on proposed White River reservoir
By Heather Sackett, Dec. 28
The Aspen Times, Vail Daily, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press, Rio Blanco Herald Times, Coyote Gulch

Tinkering with a pollutant, Colorado ranch seeks to improve fish habitat
By John Herrick, Dec. 29
Glenwood Springs Post Independent, The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

Toxic algae blooms in reservoirs near Steamboat detected thanks to new state protocol
By Natalie Keltner-McNeil, Dec. 31
Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch

Judge dismisses several water uses in White River reservoir case
By Heather Sackett, Dec. 31
The Aspen Times

Connie Harvey Environment Desk

Mountain-lion hunting expands near Aspen
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Jan. 17
Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times, Craig Press, Sky-Hi News

Bill McKibben has a message for Aspen’s billionaires
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Jan. 23
Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

Hydrologist: Basalt Mountain’s ‘broken’ landscape mitigates hazards in wake of wildfires
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Jan. 30
Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times

NEPA turns 50 amid new challenges to public process
By Marci Krivonen, Feb. 13
Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times, Coyote Gulch

ACES hosts Conservation International VP to discuss nature-based climate solutions
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Feb. 21
Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times

Western Slope prepping for wolves
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Feb. 25
Aspen Public Radio,The Aspen Times, Craig Press, Coyote Gulch

One year later: What the March 2019 avalanche cycle hints at on climate change
By Catherine Lutz, March 9
Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times

State proposes ‘special management area’ for local mountain lions
By Olivia Emmer, March 21
The Aspen Times

Electricity use drops nearly 10% as ski lifts close early
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, March 27

Airport expansion may not resolve pollution and noise problems
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy and Stephen R. Miller, April 8
The Aspen Times

Airport recommendations depend on pollution mitigation, cooperation from airlines
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, April 16
Aspen Public Radio

Environmental nonprofits adjust to life in a pandemic
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, April 16

Forest Service plans for fire season, tourist season amid COVID-19 concerns
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, May 12
Aspen Public Radio, Coyote Gulch

COVID-19 brings extra hazards to wildfire season
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, May 16
Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times, Sky-Hi News

Pitkin County targets building codes in effort to reduce emissions
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, May 26
The Aspen Times

CORE funding at risk; ‘transition year’ ahead
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, June 9
The Aspen Times

Increased use, violations on Pitkin County open space kept rangers busy this spring
By Laurine Lassalle, June 29
The Aspen Times

Increase in human-caused bear deaths raises concern for forest health
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Aug. 3
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Sky-Hi News, 9News

Smoke waves expected to intensify, threaten public health across Colorado and the West
By Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Sept. 20
The Aspen Times

Degrees of warming: How a hotter, thirstier atmosphere wreaks havoc on water supplies in Pitkin County
By Catherine Lutz, Oct. 30
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Steamboat Pilot, Coyote Gulch

Buildout projection, recent trends drive Pitkin County’s downzoning push
By Curtis Wackerle, Nov. 15
The Aspen Times

Thompson Divide conservation agreement is a step forward for Pitkin County, AVLT
By Curtis Wackerle, Dec. 7
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

COVID-19 Desk

‘Tracking The Curve’: Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle, updated every weekday since March

Nonresident COVID-19 cases are a significant part of virus’ footprint in Pitkin County
By Curtis Wackerle and Laurine Lassalle, Aug. 31
The Aspen Times

Local ranchers face backlog of cattle due to coronavirus. Now comes the drought.
By Laurine Lassalle, Sept. 7
The Aspen Times, Vail Daily, Coyote Gulch

Pitkin County health officials press state for COVID-19 visitor requirements
By Curtis Wackerle, Sept. 30
The Aspen Times

Election Coverage

Boebert, Mitsch Bush dueling to wrest the reins of CD3 race amid COVID-19
By M. John Fayhee, Oct. 18
Aspen Daily News

Questions and answers: Diane Mitsch Bush and Lauren Boebert
By M.  John Fayhee, Oct. 18

Aspen History Desk

Aspen’s rich history of befouling the Fork
By Tim Cooney Jan. 5
Aspen Daily News, The CU Water Desk

Big bore in hard times
By Tim Cooney, May 24
Aspen Daily News, CRWCD News Drop

Town of Ruedi submerged by reservoir, but not by history
By Tim Cooney, Nov. 29
Aspen Daily News, CRWCD News Drop

Aspen Journalism’s Media Reach in 2020

Aspen Journalism reaches engaged citizens through its own website, through the websites of other news organizations and through other news organizations’ publications and broadcasts.

We make a good faith effort to conservatively estimate the number of readers or listeners we may have reached and informed.

In 2020, according to Google Analytics, the Aspen Journalism website site saw 95,958 sessions (up from 67,217 sessions in 2019), 74,684 users (up from 54,924 in 2019) and 126,642 page views (up from 83,075 in 2019).

And the website site in 2020 had 226 active one-day users (up from 207 in 2019), 1,209 active seven-day users (up from 1,111 in 2019), 2,257 active 14-day users (down from 2,228 in 2019) and 4,831 active 280-day users (up from 3,990 in 2019).

We consider that this data suggests that we reach about 250 people on our website on any given day during 2020.

Aspen Journalism’s Twitter feed has 1,387 followers (up from 1,272 at the end of 2019).

We realize that our own digital reach remains modest, which is why we continue to place a strong emphasis on collaborating with other news organizations, which have larger audiences than our digital channels do, at least so far.

Reach of Our Collaborative Reporting 

Aspen Journalism stories in 2020 were featured in the following publications, and the estimated audience information comes from the websites of the publications.

To reach the potential audience figures from newspaper stories, we multiplied the daily print circulation of a publication and their daily online readership by the number of stories we published with the organization.

For example, X stories in The Aspen Times multiplied by X copies, plus X online reader = X potential “media impressions.”

We recognize, and emphasize, that the resulting number is the high end of the potential audience for our stories, but it is the most consistent way to measure and compare the number of people we are potentially informing via our reporting. It is also consistent with how the public-relations sector measures the reach of media stories.

The Aspen Times, distributed from Aspen to Carbondale, has a daily print circulation of 9,000 and an online readership of 370,000 visits a month, or approximately 12,000 a day. We published 70 stories in 2020 with The Aspen Times, reaching a total potential of 630,000 media impressions via print and 840,000 digital impressions, for a total of 1,210,000 impressions.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today, distributed in Routt County, has a daily print circulation of 9,000 and an online readership of about 12,000 sessions a day. We published 19 stories in 2020 in the Steamboat Pilot, reaching a total potential audience of 171,000 print readers and up to 228,000 digital readers, for a total of 399,000 readers.

The Vail Daily, distributed from Vail to Eagle, has a daily print circulation of 10,500, and an estimated online readership of 10,500. We published 15 stories with the Vail Daily in 2020, for an audience of 157,500 print readers and 157,500 digital readers, for a total of 315,000 readers.

The Sky-Hi News, distributed in Grand County, has a print circulation of 5,500 and an estimated online readership of about 5,000. We published 15 stories with Sky-Hi News in 2020, reaching a total potential audience of 82,500 print readers and 75,000 digital readers, for a total of 157,500 readers.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent, distributed from Basalt to Rifle, has a daily print circulation of 9,000 and 30-day website traffic averaging more than 800,000 page views, or 27,000 per day, according to the Post Independent. We published 11 stories with the publication in 2020, resulting in 99,000 print impressions and 297,000 digital impressions, for a total of 396,000.

The Craig Press, distributed in Craig, has a twice-weekly print circulation of 6,500 and 7,000 online daily readers. We published 11 stories with the Craig Press in 2020, for a total potential audience of 71,500 print readers and 77,000 digital readers, for a total of 148,500 readers.

The Summit Daily, distributed from Silverthorne to Copper Mountain, has a daily print circulation of 10,000 and an estimated daily online readership of 10,000. We published nine stories with the Summit Daily in 2020, for a total potential audience of 90,000 print readers and 90,000 digital readers, for a total of 180,000 readers.

Aspen Public Radio estimates it has 2,300 listeners each weekday morning. The station broadcast 11 Aspen Journalism stories or interviews in 2020, so we estimate that our stories could have been heard by 25,300 listeners.

The Aspen Daily News, distributed from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, with a daily print circulation of 14,500 and online readership of 20,000 users on an average day. We published four stories in 2020 in the Daily News, reaching a total potential audience of 58,000 print readers and 80,000 digital readers, for total of 138,000 readers.

KUNC, a regional public radio station based in Greeley, informs potential underwriters that their message “will reach 150,000 potential customers.” We  had one story aired on KUNC, so we reached 150,000 potential listeners.

Coyote Gulch reaches approximately 5,000 visitors a day, and many of them are water professionals, including attorneys, engineers and consultants. Coyote Gulch is also included in the Nexis database. Coyote Gulch published 57 of our stories in 2020, reaching a potential audience of 285,000 readers.

We do not yet have readership information for the CRWCD News Drop and The Water Desk at CU.

In total, Aspen Journalism stories that were published or broadcast by our collaborative partners may have reached a potential audience of 3,332,300 readers and listeners. Savvy, experienced media professionals may be inclined to discount that number by as much as half, which in that case would mean we would have reached a cumulative audience of about 1,666,150 engaged readers, or incidents of stories being read by a person throughout the year. 

Public Radio Interviews and Podcasts

We strive to reach public-radio listeners, and in addition to 11 of our full news stories, or interviews about our stories, being aired on Aspen Public Radio, we also reached the listeners of KDNK in Carbondale on April 9 when Gavin Dahl interviewed Heather Sackett about her reporting on the quarry and the Crystal River in Marble.

And we reached the listeners of “Water Buffs,” a new podcast from The Water Desk at CU, when Mitch Tobin, the director of The Water Desk, interviewed Heather Sackett on an episode titled “Money and Power in Colorado Water” on Sept. 16.

Awards Won in 2020

Colorado Press Association

First Place
Best Environmental Story, Class 5
Heather Sackett
“Residents of Marble and Crystal say 13-mile Lead King Loop being loved to death”

First Place
Best Story/Picture Combination, Class 5
Tim Cooney
“Dewatering the Smuggler Mountain mines”

First Place
Best Photo Slideshow or Gallery, Class 5
Brent Gardner-Smith
“Portrait of low flows on the Green and Colorado rivers, late Sept. 2018.”

Society of Professional Journalists

Society of Professional Journalists, Top of the Rockies Excellence in Journalism Awards, Third Place, Agriculture and Environment Enterprise category, for “Beavers work hard for river ecosystems,” by Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, as broadcast on Aspen Public Radio.

Aspen Journalism Donors and Funders

We were supported by 188 individual donors and foundations in 2020. Below is a list of the donations we received of $5,000 or above, a level of disclosure consistent with the standards of the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Tom Barron
Brett Family Foundation
Ruth Carver
Catena Foundation ($100,000 for water reporting)
John and Ann Doerr
Ann Harvey
Hal Harvey
Mark Harvey
Peter Looram
Maki Foundation
New-Land Foundation
Tom and Margot Pritzker
Linda and Stewart Resnick Foundation
Kate Ridgeway
Jill Soffer, via Our Part
Judy Steinberg

Colorado Media Project Donors:

Bohemian Foundation
Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation
Democracy Fund
Gates Family Foundation

NewsMatch Donors:

S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation
Democracy Fund
Facebook Journalism Project
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Inasmuch Foundation
Independence Public Media Foundation
Jonathan Logan Family Foundation
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable
Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust
Wyncote Foundation
Natasha and Dirk Ziff

Earned Revenue

The Water Desk at the University of Colorado Boulder

Aspen Journalism’s Editorial Independence Policy

We recognize and appreciate that our nonprofit model relies on donations and that all of our donors expect us to retain our independent editorial judgment and scrupulous adherence to journalist standards. So we do.

Our organization accepts donations to support the coverage of particular beats or broad coverage areas, but our organization maintains editorial control of all of the resulting coverage.

We cede no right of review or influence of any of our editorial content.

When we deem it necessary and appropriate, we disclose our donors and key stakeholders in our stories or in an editor’s note.

Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services, actions or opinions.

We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Aspen Journalism Staff

Brent Gardner-Smith, Executive Director
Curtis Wackerle, Editor
Heather Sackett, Managing Editor

Aspen Journalism Board of Directors 

Tim McFlynn, President
Mark Harvey, Treasurer
Cristal Logan
Michael McVoy
Jane Pargiter
Judith Steinberg
Harry Teague

Journalism Advisory Board 

Dave Danforth
Charles Davis
Charlie Firestone
Laura Frank
Carl Hulse
David Krause
Catherine Lutz
John Masters
Curtis Robinson
Carolyn Sackariason
Vivian Schiller
Steve Skinner
Andy Stone
Nancy Watzman
Mike Webb

For the Record: Journalists Paid by Aspen Journalism, 2011-20

2011
Brent Gardner-Smith and David Frey

2012
Brent Gardner-Smith, Madeleine Osberger, Brady Hurley, Dan Bayer, Catherine Lutz, Tim Mutrie

2013
Brent Gardner-Smith, Catherine Lutz, Allen Best, Madeleine Osberger, Bob Ward, Paul Andersen, Brady Hurley

2014
Brent Gardner-Smith, Bob Ward, Paul Andersen, Madeleine Osberger, Catherine Lutz, John Colson, Nelson Harvey

2015
Brent Gardner-Smith, Bob Ward

2016
Brent Gardner-Smith, Allen Best, Catherine Lutz, Tim Cooney

2017
Brent Gardner-Smith, Heather Sackett, Sarah Tory, Lindsay Fendt, Allen Best, Tim Cooney

2018
Brent Gardner-Smith, Heather Sackett, Lindsay Fendt, Sarah Tory, Jason Blevins, Ali Margo, Tim Cooney, Dale Ulland

2019
Brent Gardner-Smith, Heather Sackett, Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Sarah Tory, Catherine Lutz, Lauren Blair, Dale Ulland, Tim Cooney

2020
Brent Gardner-Smith, Curtis Wackerle, Heather Sackett, Dale Ulland, Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, Sarah Tory, Catherine Lutz, Lindsay Fendt, Laurine Lassalle, David Williams, Allen Best, Natalie Keltner-McNeil, John Fayhee, Tim Cooney, Lauren Blair, Marcie Krivonen, Oliva Emmer, Stephen Miller, Christin Kay, John Herrick, Bethany Blitz, Dan Bayer

Collaborating News Organizations, 2011-20

2011
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Aspen Daily News, Aspen Public Radio, The Denver Post, KDNK and Snowmass Sun.

2012
Aspen Daily News, The Aspen Times, The Denver Post, Snowmass Sun and Aspen Business Journal.

2013
Aspen Daily News, The Aspen Times, The Denver Post, Snowmass Sun and Aspen Business Journal.

2014
Aspen Daily News, The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Investigate West and Aspen Sojourner.

2015
The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Aspen Daily News.

2016
Aspen Daily News.

2017
Swift Communications newspapers, including The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Summit Daily, Ski-Hi News and Steamboat Pilot; and Aspen Daily News and High Country News.

2018
Swift Communications newspapers, including The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Summit Daily, Ski-Hi News and Steamboat Pilot; and Aspen Daily News and Aspen Sojourner.

2019
Swift Communications newspapers, including The Aspen Times, Snowmass Sun, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Summit Daily, Ski-Hi News, Craig Press and Steamboat Pilot; and Aspen Daily News and Aspen Public Radio.

2020

Swift Communications newspapers, including The Aspen Times,  Snowmass Sun, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Summit Daily, Ski-Hi News, Craig Press and Steamboat Pilot; and Aspen Daily News, Aspen Public Radio and KUNC.

Influence and Impact from Our Reporting, 2011-20

2011
Crystal River dams, Base Village and regional demographics.

2012
Aspen hydro, Base Village, Bear Ranch, polo field and Crystal River.

2013
Windstar, hospital charges, Aspen hydro and Base Village.

2014
Aspen hydro, affordable housing, art museum, billionaires and Colorado River

2015
Aspen and Roaring Fork school districts, Colorado Water Plan and basin roundtables

2016
Castle/Maroon dams, Colorado River issues and wasteful irrigation.

2017
Colorado River, wasteful irrigation and a money-for-fallowing program.

2018
Maroon/Castle dams lead to settlement with city, drought-contingency planning and demand management.

2019
Decrees for the Maroon/Castle dams eliminated, state water meetings pried opened, Roaring Fork diversion cleaned up, and Homestake dam plans revealed.

2020
Tracked COVID-19 data for Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties, shaped COVID-19 data reporting process in Pitkin County, exposed fuel spill at Marble quarry, exposed lack of monitoring of air and noise pollution at Pitkin County airport, detailed water claims tied to potential dam on the White River, and covered unfolding demand management policies on the Colorado River system.

About Aspen Journalism

Aspen Journalism is a local, nonprofit and investigative journalism organization founded in Aspen, Colo., in 2011.

Our mission is to produce investigative journalism.

Our area of geographic interest radiates outward from Aspen to include Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties, the Roaring Fork Valley, the Roaring Fork River watershed, the Western Slope, the state of Colorado, and the upper Colorado River basin.

Our mailing address is:

Aspen Journalism
P.O. Box 10101
Aspen, CO 81611