With a long history of producing community journalism, several newspapers that are now part of Colorado Community Media have been led by strong women since they started being published.
As part of celebrating its 80th year as an organization, Colorado Press Women (CPW) recently recognized women from four Colorado Community Media (CCM) newspapers who were employed by or owned the publications, dating back to the 1940s. The women were also original members of CPW.
CCM honorees include:
Co-publisher Katherine Bemis of the Littleton Independent
Owner and publisher Vera West Parson for the Golden Transcript
Owner and publisher Mary H. Isham and editor Lucille Hastings of the Brighton Blade
Co-publisher C.A. of the Fort Lupton Press
CPW also paid tribute to Daisy Baber, a longtime columnist with the Lyons Recorder.
Accepting the certificates on behalf of CCM during the Oct. 2 hybrid meeting was new publisher Linda Shapley. Like the women being recognized by CPW, Shapley brings decades of newspaper experience to CCM.
“I’m honored to continue the news leadership that these remarkable journalists helped begin 80 years ago,” Shapley said. “As the original founders said, ‘Press women have a weapon to shape the peace or destruction of the world,’ and I aim to use that weapon responsibly to build up the next generation of journalists and create stronger communities across the Front Range.”
Shapley is referring to the early days of CPW in 1941 when it became an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW), which was established in 1938.
In recruiting CPW members, on the eve of the U.S. entry into World War II, NFPW founder Bertha Bless said, “Press women have the opportunity of the century to create a thinking America that can lead the world out of its present chaos. We must save not only the right of the press but also Americans. Grassroots journalism represented in small town and country newspapers doesn’t know its own power. Press women have a weapon to shape the peace of destruction of the world.”
Today, CPW is a diverse organization of professional communicators, both men and women, who are reporters, editors, broadcasters, public relations practitioners, publishers, advertising and marketing practitioners, college communications educators, graphic designers, photographers, freelance writers and others.
“Looking back 80 years at the state of Colorado Press Women, what impresses me most is that 13 of our charter members were publishers and/or editors or their small-town newspapers — strong women,” said CPW President Sandy Nance. “It’s no wonder that equality for women has been as basic an expectation of our membership as our support for the First Amendment.”
Early on, CPW focused on establishing rural libraries. Today, Nance said CPW works to help people sort fact from fiction on the Internet.
With the emergence of teleconferencing and Zoom, Nance said CPW will focus on increasing membership throughout all of Colorado and not just newspapers along the Front Range.
Today, Colorado Community Media continues to grow, focusing on the importance of community journalism. The media company currently owns 24 community newspapers in Adams, Arapahoe, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Jefferson and Weld counties.
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