Happy First Birthday, I-News!

Happy Birthday, I-News!

Today, I-News celebrates its first anniversary. Wondering what to get a year-old nonprofit news organization? Well…we do like I-News[/caption]

But first, let’s look back on this amazing year. In this short time, we’ve already become a trusted source of journalism that matters across Colorado. More than 20 news outlets have used our content to deliver localized, in-depth reporting to more than 3 million Coloradans.

I’d like to tell you a story about I-News.

I was an investigative reporter for the Rocky Mountain News when it closed in 2009 (the two-year anniversary of that event is tomorrow, Feb. 27.) Just four days before the Rocky closed, federal agents raided a Denver electronics recycler. The raid came on the heals of a CBS 60 Minutes expose alleging the company had illegally shipped e-waste to China.

For a year, we all knew there was an ongoing federal investigation, but no reporters had the time to follow up. It drove me crazy. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

So when I-News got up and going, we put reporter Kristin Jones on the case.

She took the story far beyond where it had been, or even where we thought it might go. She found that Colorado e-waste was still being exported illegally to developing nations. She used two different databases to track a shipment of e-waste from Colorado to Hong Kong – where her Mandarin Chinese language skills came in handy. But she didn’t stop there.

Kristin found that some of the same kinds of dangerous practices – such as dipping computer parts in acid and burning over open flames – were happening right in Colorado, on a much smaller scale, but completely under the radar of state regulators. They had no idea it was happening.

And she found that most of Colorado’s used electronics were actually winding up in local dumps. But she didn’t stop there.

Using public records, Kristin found that much of the e-waste that was being illegally exported, locally dumped, or dipped and burned in Coloradans’ back yards was actually coming from government surplus auctions. In fact, the very state agency responsible for regulating e-waste was sending its own trash electronics to auction.

But I-News didn’t stop there. We distributed the information to newspapers, TV and radio stations throughout the state. There’s proposed legislation that would fix some of the problems we identified. And people are talking about what Coloradans want their e-waste policies to be.

And this, my friends, is what I-News is all about. Telling the stories that otherwise won’t be told, and fostering thoughtful public discussion that leads to action when necessary.

We produced eight multimedia in-depth reports during our inaugural year that sparked both public discussion and action. We think 2011 is going to be even better.

So thank you Colorado!

And thank you to our funders: The John L. and James S. Knight Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Community Foundation Serving Boulder County, Brett Family Foundation, McCormick Foundation, The Fund for Investigative Journalism and The Fund for Environmental Journalism.

And thank you to the media outlets working so hard with us to deliver news that matters to our state.

Thank you Rocky Mountain PBS and its network of stations, Colorado Public Radio and its network, The Denver Post, KUSA 9News, Colorado Springs Gazette, Boulder Daily Camera, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Pueblo Chieftain, Longmont Times-Call, Greeley Tribune, Viva Colorado, EdNewsColorado.org, Steamboat Today, KUNC public radio and all the Rocky Mountain Community Radio stations.

Laura Frank, executive director
Burt Hubbard, editorial director
Joe Mahoney, multimedia director
Kristin Jones, reporter

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