PERRY: The Sentinel is changing so we can keep it the same — local and all yours

Candice Bailey yells to protestors with raw emotion, June 27, 2020 at the Aurora Municipal Center. Thousands gathered to protest and pay tribute to Elijah McClain, who died in 2019 after an encounter with three officers from the Aurora Police Department.
Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

It’s no overstatement to say that without a free and responsible press, there would be no democracy.

Democracy is the word we throw around to describe all the self-government that looks out for all of us, equally, even when the people we choose to lead us miss the mark.

The Sentinel is changing this week, primarily because a group of people understand this newspaper’s critical role in preserving a healthy democracy in the community and the region.

The reason why The Sentinel journalists, and journalists around the world, make democracy work is because even the best of people, even under the best of circumstances, are only at their best when they know they’re being watched and judged.

That’s just how people are.

A mourner weeps at a prayer vigil Friday evening, July 20, 2012, near East Exposition Avenue and South Sable Boulevard in Aurora, just hours after what was to become known as The Aurora Theater Shooting. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

And journalism makes democracy work because the worst of people do the worst possible things while assuming they won’t be found out or held accountable.

The lack of transparency and accountability wielded by a free press is what makes it possible for dictators like Vladimir Putin to lie effortlessly to his citizens to kill Ukrainians and his own soldiers with impunity.

The power of a free press, and the critical need for it, isn’t just an issue of national and international proportions. The lives we all want to live depend on democracy working at the state Capitol, on school boards, city councils, district courts, county jails and at every other level of government and business.

Trusted newspapers like The Sentinel tell you, and everyone, the things you need to know that some people in power want to hide.

Reports, editors and photographers have been diligently doing it here for more than a century.

Hundreds of protestors assembled for a march at the GEO facility, July 12, in Aurora, Colorado. Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

In the last election, some school board candidates for Cherry Creek Schools tried to conceal the extremist groups supporting them and even their own bizarre and dangerous views on the role of government in education.

The Sentinel has been right there with you and for you when gang violence erupted in the 1980s and police began abusing Black teenagers in a misguided overreaction to addressing gang problems.

The Sentinel has told you when city lawmakers egregiously used their offices for their personal gain.

The Sentinel was there for you as the Aurora theater shooting unfolded, and a platoon of writers, photographers and editors have offered the Aurora region nuance and dedication to the story no one else comes close to.

In this March 30, 2018 photo Petra Bennett sits on the couch in her mobile home with her dog Romeo, in front of what she called her “wall of fame,” which was covered in photos of her three sons, all of whom grew up in the home, Residents of Denver Meadows Mobile Home and RV Park, including Petra Bennett, were forced to relocate after the land of the park was rezoned. (Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado via AP)

When other media quickly moved on from the death of Elijah McClain in 2019, The Sentinel continually pressed for information in story after story.

The Sentinel has repeatedly forced even national officials to come clean on the treatment and mistreatment of mostly Latino immigrants held in a detention center in Aurora. 

The Sentinel has brought hundreds of thousands of readers stories about an army of high school athletes when they’ve been victorious and crushed by defeat.

Like thousands of newspapers across the nation, The Sentinel has long been the nexus for culture, crime, education, celebration, diversity, governance, horror, equity, weirdness and everything that makes Aurora the unique and amazing place it is.

Protesters and police, including Chief Vanessa Wilson, center, kneel together for eight minutes and 46 seconds during a peaceful protest against police brutality, following the death of George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Aurora, Colo. Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis.(Philip B. Poston/The Aurora Sentinel via AP)

For almost 20 years, we’ve offered you a close look at the world outside your door, and as members of the Associated Press and other collaborations, a close look at key events around the world. Every. Single. Day.

But like so many newspapers, the internet and social media have disrupted the way we fund our critical role in Aurora.

Paid advertisement, the lifeblood of journalistic media, has been drained away by companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, cable and streaming TV, Yahoo and many, many more. Those ad dollars now support a fraction of the news and journalism newspapers used to create.

That kind of economic pounding has decimated newsrooms across the region and the country, including ours.

All this, compounded by the pandemic, pushed The Sentinel, and so many papers like it, to the brink. More than 1,400 cities and towns like Aurora have seen their news source pushed over the edge in the last 15 years, we write today in a story about The Sentinel’s transformation.

Hinkley High School Darrien Wells reacts after diving at the finish of the boys 5A 4 X 200 to win on Saturday May 20, 2017 at Jefferson County Stadium.
Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

Despite challenges that make me weary even to describe, The Sentinel has continued to turn out the trusted, critical news and features the region needs and deserves. Every. Single. Day.

We’re going to keep doing that, thanks to a growing group of people and organizations that understand the critical role newspapers like The Sentinel and others have. The Colorado News Collaborative, which The Sentinel is part of, and that organization’s consultant, Joaquin Alvarado, a longtime national innovator in journalism, are helping The Sentinel  create a new way forward.

What this will look like in the end is being mapped out even as I write this. We’ve created a holding company, The Colorado Journalism Investment Group, to allow our readers, the community, and people who appreciate journalism and the role Aurora and The Sentinel play in the region, an opportunity to create a unique structure to ensure The Sentinel’s long term viability and success.

Jeff Hughes plays his violin to thousands of protestors as APD officers and Arapaho County Sheriff’s deputies, in riot gear, descended on peaceful protestors during the Elijah McClain protest, June 27 at the Aurora Municipal Center.
Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

There will be much more news on this process as it unfolds during the next few months.

Many of you already have played a strategic part in this by generously providing contributions that have allowed us to keep performing our crucial role in the region. I’ve read every note, every message, every “thanks for what you do” that you’ve scribbled on the back of envelopes, on cards and the memo line of every check you’ve sent.

Now, I get to say, “thanks” back, and tell you how your emotional and community support have buoyed us here even more than your needed dollars.

Janet throws some pupusas on the flattop in Edgardo’s backyard during Edgardo’s birthday party. Of the 20 or so friends in attendance, more than half are here on TPS.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/The Sentinel

Thanks to this extraordinary effort among you, the Colorado Journalism Investment Group and others, we’ll be here to thank you in writing — today and every day going forward.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
5 months ago

The Sentinel has done a good job of reporting the news honestly, and in that regard, representing the majority of Coloradans. I do say “majority,” as there are those who would claim otherwise simply because the facts may not support their narrative. Nothing we can do about that.

5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

They absolutely do not report honestly, just as Fox News does not, nor CNN. They report a narrative that they build by presenting only certain facts and omitting others that are relevant to the story, and they do it knowingly. Knowingly misleading readers and you call it honest, holy crap. It’s really sad that you don’t see that or that you do but refuse to acknowledge that because this outlet caters to your beliefs. The Sentinel is just as much a legacy media outlet as the big ones, and they will all hopefully die a quick and painful death and make way for real independent media who will present all the facts, regardless of whether it hurts their view of reality or not.

john wilson
john wilson
5 months ago
Reply to  Don

But they do allow dissenting comments unlike CNN and MSNBC……that is a plus!

Last edited 5 months ago by john wilson
5 months ago

Aurora needs a local newspaper, I full heartedly agree. That’s why I read it and follow the local news on this website but I refuse to spend a nickel because the Sentinel is so slanted to the far left political side for both news and editorials.

I hope the new owner gets this. I do not think my view is typical of most right wing newspaper readers. I believe most of my friends and other Republicans just stopped reading the Sentinel after Harrison left. It’s my opinion if the Sentinel began to be middle of the road in their reporting and picked editorials that didn’t intimidate or make 50% of the Aurora citizens angry there would be a chance for economic success and certainly a dramatic increase in readership. Unless this happens, I feel the Sentinel’s new owner will fall into economic oblivion, just as Mr. Gold apparently did.

As a simple example look at the pictures you posted to make your point about the new changing Sentinel editorial. Out of eight pictures, five are about far left wing protesters, one about immigrant families having fun, (how many immigrant families read the Sentinel), a high school athlete (some high schoolers will pick up a copy of the Sentinel, maybe) and lastly a picture of a grieving lady from the James Holmes murders, ten years ago.

You need to review yourself if you really believe that the Sentinel is an example of what makes democracy work and what it will take for the Sentinel to survive.

5 months ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

It’s really sad that since 2016, anytime the media reports facts, statistics, truth, and reality, Republicans scream about a left-leaning bias. Maybe you should examine how your narrative doesn’t fit with actual facts and is largely based on lies told by Fox “News”.

5 months ago

Yeah that’s a lie. Cool story bro.

Don Black
Don Black
5 months ago

I would love to see news reported fairly by any news organization, including the right. But the Sentinel is so far left, and like many from the left, does more to promote hatred and misunderstanding than can be forgiven.

Marie Myfanawy
Marie Myfanawy
5 months ago

I jsut want to say thank you for being there for our community all these years. I hope this new arrangement will be a good solution for us.

Kelly Costin
Kelly Costin
5 months ago

I am also a conservative that reads the Sentinel because I want local news and sports. I am one of those that liberal trolls call a Fox News minion, in an attempt to stereo type conservatives, even though I have never watched Fox News. I don’t even have cable. The Sentinel has done a stellar job of covering high school sports, but that is it. Sentinel totally missed the story locally when ALL the Denver stations covered the story about the Aurora light rail train derailing, causing a woman to lose her lower leg. Aurora Sentinel picked up the story 3 days late. Aurora Sentinel was right on top of any move Donald Trump made, because hatred of conservatives is what motivates Dave Perry and all the minions under him. Sentinel focuses on any shiny object resembling leftism or shaming conservatives. I read for local sports and the hope of covering a local story adequately, because there is no alternative. I will never give the thinnest of dimes toward the Sentinel Rag. New ownership can only improve this leftist rag because it could not get any worse.

Steven Zapiler
5 months ago

Accusing liberals of hate is a conservative gaslight technique. Conservatives own most big city newspapers. The Denver Post is typical in that regard. Many suburb cities have similarly conservatively owned newspapers. Again, Denver is typical with The Greenwood Villager and even Glendale’s local paper is extremely conservative. But the Sentinel looks and sounds like a liberal paper. Its stories and opinions sound more liberal and that’s one of its advantages. And the awards it receives acknowledge the journalism–the kind that doesn’t accuse anyone of hate.