I was 16 years old when I walked into the Indianapolis Recorder—my hometown’s Black community newspaper—and got my fingers stained with the ink of journalism. My heart and mind had long been colored by its ideals. I come from a family of people with strong opinions—and minds hungry for new information to help order the world. And I always wanted to be the most informed person in the room. At the Recorder, I realized I could make a living out of that desire.
But to be the most informed, you’ve got to first gather information—you’ve gotta be a reporter. Today, it’s not so easy to do that. As corporate news media’s profit margins have waned, so has the army of journalists it fields. When I started reporting, regional newspapers had bureaus around the world. Now, the Washington Post doesn’t even have bureaus around the country. Things have changed.
Whether those changes mark the end or the beginning of journalism’s vital role is hotly debated. But here at ColorLines, we’re opting out of the discussion. Whatever else is true, there is an enduring need for our trade’s animating idea: that a functioning democracy demands informed participants. This is particularly true for communities in which the lasting structures of inequality have long discouraged participation.
ColorLines has spent 12 years building a home for journalism in service to justice rather than profit. Now, we’re rebuilding ColorLines as a more dynamic, fast-moving and hard-hitting news source than was ever before possible, by exploiting the exciting opportunities of digital media.
What We’re Doing
ColorLines’ brand of journalism may be more essential now than ever. The 2008 elections brought unprecedented numbers of people into the public square for the first time, people who still stand ready to participate. The months since then have presented more challenges than most could have imagined—an epic battle for real health insurance, a rapidly growing deportation pipeline, an ongoing struggle to rebuild neighborhoods destroyed by Wall Street’s folly.
The new ColorLines will cover these events as they unfold—bringing you not only the most urgent news but the context in which to understand it. We’ll use multimedia features like video and interactive graphics to make complex stories accessible. And we’ll put more resources than ever into investigating stories corporate media has too often ignored, even during its more profitable days.
We will also connect you with opportunities to impact the stories we cover. We will continue to produce independent, thorough and transparent journalism. But we know our community wants to solve problems, not just learn about them. So a new Action channel of ColorLines.com will feature ongoing dialogue on solutions—and consistent opportunities for you to get to work fixing the problems our reporters uncover.
As ColorLines relaunches, we will retire our news blog, RaceWire. But don’t despair! We’ll be covering the daily news of race, politics and culture in an even more aggressive manner, and RaceWire.org will automatically re-direct to ColorLines.com, so you won’t need to redo your bookmarks right away.
Re-imagining ColorLines as a digital publication also means re-imagining our print magazine. We’re hard at work brainstorming a sustainable print publication that buttresses the broader educational work of our publisher, the Applied Research Center. But we have more questions than answers. So we’re going to stop printing while we seek meaningful answers. If you’re a current subscriber, please read a letter from our publisher, Rinku Sen, explaining options for your subscription.
How You Can Participate
We invite both current and would-be subscribers to join us in building the new ColorLines. The Website we will launch at the U.S. Social Forum will be ColorLines’ foundation. But we’ll be growing from there—enhancing our mobile publishing, developing our e-newsletter, ColorLines Direct, and creating more opportunities for users to join the conversation. So here’s a couple of steps you can take right now to help us get there.
Take ownership. The reporters, thinkers and editors who produce ColorLines work for you. We’re not aggregating eyeballs for advertisers—or for advocates and foundations, for that matter. We’ll remain transparent about our funders, but we hope you’ll support the work as well. Click here to help pay for journalism in service to justice.
Sign up for ColorLines Direct. Every Thursday, you’ll get our e-newsletter digesting the stories we’ve been covering, flagging opportunities to take action and updating you on the Applied Research Center’s work.
I’m more excited about journalism’s future than ever. We face great challenges today, to be sure. But also unprecedented opportunities to do groundbreaking, change-making journalism that is rooted in community. At ColorLines, we’ve begun seizing those opportunities—with your help. Here’s to tomorrow.