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Better by Association: Raehal reflects on tenure

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Raehal: Goodbye

It’s been a common question: “Why are you leaving the Colorado Press?”

It’s simple: I believe in the cause of the Colorado Press, but after four years away from the frontlines, I miss the connection that being a publisher provides. I yearn for the connection to community journalism, the community interactions and working with local clients on how to help their businesses grow.

That’s not to say I won’t miss the CPA and interacting with the members, board and committee volunteers, sponsors, and mostly, the impressive Colorado Press team. All of those people have helped transition the CPA and CPN into the future. There is too much to list here, but here are some highlights:

• The annual convention has grown in attendance at sessions (300 percent) and sponsorships (660 percent), and it is recognized by many speakers and sponsors as one of the premier press conventions. More important than growth is that our members tell us how lessons learned at the convention and webinars have helped.

• The CPA, lobbyist Greg Romberg and member newspaper The Coloradoan were at the center of getting SB 40 enacted into law, which allows access to records in digital format. Without the CPA, and Romberg specifically, SB 40 would not have passed.

• We established Colorado Journalism Week, met with the Colorado Supreme Court to improve their open records process, helped get the Child Autopsy Bill vetoed, fought the Ethics Commission’s unethical approach to records, and help fund and advocate for CFOIC and Colorado Media Alliance.

• In four years, we’ve sent more than $6 million back to newspapers in ads placed through Colorado Press Network, and saved legal newspapers even more by defending public notices, including a veto this year.

• We’ve retooled the website, print publication (now PressNext), our email communication, and social media to the benefit of our members, with the Colorado Press website and PressNext recognized by our peers as some of the best.

• After four decades of debate, the bylaws were changed to not only allow free weeklies to be full members, but also allowing monthly and online members full membership — with board members from all membership types — making us the only state press association in the nation to do so.

• We’re the only state press association in the nation that can report growth in membership and dues revenue, while most are shrinking.

• We established a new board for the Press Network and brought back “Press” into the name of the agency.

• Among our peers, we are considered one of the most progressive associations in the nation.

So thank you CPA and CPN staff members. In the interview process, I stated my desire to hire people smarter than me. Thank you for being so, and for your efforts and support.

Thank you board members and committee volunteers. Much has been asked of you. And much has been gained by the association and its members due to your work.

And thank you to my wife, Jamie. I cannot express how grateful I am to you. Between work hours during the convention or travels or whatever, there have been many times you have been alone in raising our wonderful children. You’ve done a tremendous job of supporting them and me. You’re my rock. You’re my gravity.

Finally, thank you members and sponsors and everyone who has supported me and the CP team through this journey. Thank you for trusting me with the opportunity of representing you.

It’s my sincere hope that you, as our members, are better by being part of the association. I know I am better because of my association with CPA, and with you. Thank you.

— Jerry Raehal