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College Students Help Re-Imagine Community Journalism

Aspiring multimedia journalists and entrepreneurs from two universities are helping re-imagine community journalism in Colorado.  Students and recent graduates from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Metropolitan State University of Denver are powering Bucket List Community Café, an online community journalism site for Denver.  They start as college interns working alongside Bucket List Community Café publisher, Vicky Collins, and editor Madison Lauterbach in a real newsroom where the focus is on neighborly, solution-oriented news.  

“Our students put their skills into action across all platforms in an entrepreneurial journalism start-up.  They are part of a vibrant ecosystem of innovators in community journalism.  Their experiences help us do things differently than they’ve been done in the past,” says Collins. 

“We give the next generation of journalists who don’t have an Ivy League diploma or newsroom connections an opportunity to learn how to be the storytellers in their communities. We’re setting the next generation up for success,” says Lauterbach.

Chuck Plunkett, a former editorial page editor of the Denver Post, now runs the University of Colorado at Boulder’s News Corps capstone program.  He works with Bucket List Community Café and other newsrooms and says this kind of collaboration is what a community needs.  

“When students get to join in coverage of projects with newsrooms, they bring fresh energy and perspective. When they pitch their ideas to our partners, lights come on all around. And what they find in the field helps bring new news to communities. It’s an easy argument to make that local newsrooms should take advantage of these kinds of opportunities and resources and help pay it forward by giving more college journalists a chance to help them meet their goals.”

Bucket List Community Café was created by television producer, Vicky Collins, whose company, Teletrends, has produced network news, long-form stories and programs, Olympic sports and fundraising videos for non-profits.  In 2023, Lauterbach, an MSU graduate and former publisher of Ms. Mayhem, joined the team as editor.  The hyperlocal neighborly online journalism publication covers news, issues, events, culture, people, small businesses, food and more.  It’s a way for people to get to know their neighbors and for the next generation of journalists to receive mentorship and get published.

London Lyle, a CU graduate who started as a multimedia journalist and has since added engagement to her responsibilities, says, “each multimedia journalist brings something unique to the table. Bucket List Community Cafe’s team is social-media savvy and passionate about the evolving ways that the public receives their news and information.” 

“We are like the Peace Corps for journalists where college students serve their community before they continue on their journey,” said Collins.  “They work in a real newsroom with real deadlines and rigorous editing.  It’s a boot camp, but over time our interns become stronger storytellers, brand ambassadors and leaders in the newsroom.  They don’t have to wait for many months to get opportunities to grow.” 

Bucket List Community Café is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and has a website.  There is also a weekly newsletter and a monthly podcast.  Student journalists work in editorial, social media engagement, analytics, public relations, audience development and fundraising.  They touch and influence every aspect of the business.  Since its beginnings, Bucket List Community Café has seen exponential growth, receiving recognition in the community and among organizations that support community journalism.  

“We have a unique niche at the intersection of journalism and community. We build community by sharing our stories,” said Collins. “Bucket List Community Café has a diverse team that makes sure people in the community feel represented in our coverage.  We are inspired and supported by the community we serve.”   

Bucket List Community Café makes sure there is mentorship for all students who are interested in journalism including, neurodiverse, queer, and BIPOC students, who are eligible for scholarships thanks to a $5000 grant from Colorado Media Project.  Daianee Galindo, recently graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver and is a Bucket List Community Café scholarship recipient. 

“It gives you the opportunity to go out into the real world and use everything you have learned to create stories about the community.”

“During my time with Bucket List, I have gained valuable real-world experience as a journalist,” says Noah Anderson, a recent graduate from the University of Colorado’s CMCI department, who is production manager and produces podcasts for Bucket List Community Cafe.  “It has been an experience that has made me a better writer, journalist, and community member.”

Written by

Vicky Collins is a freelance television producer and journalist based in Denver, Colorado with a diverse portfolio of projects that include network news, cable programming, Olympic sports, corporate and non-profit videos. Some of her most satisfying assignments have been covering disasters, working in the slums of developing countries and telling stories of people who show great courage in the face of adversity. She has been in all 50 states and on six continents and many of her television stories and photos are posted on her website at To contact Vicky Collins directly email or tweet @vickycollins.

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