Case Study

Colorado Community Media created a bilingual newsletter to bridge communities

The La Ciudad newsletter is making local coverage more accessible

By Kirsten Staples

June 26, 2024

This case study is part of Beyond Print, a program created by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the American Press Institute to help guide publishers away from print-centric revenue models toward a sustainable digital future. Sign up for The Lenfest Institute’s Solution Set newsletter for updates on Beyond Print resources.

In January 2024, Colorado Community Media, a network of community newspapers around Denver, launched a bilingual newsletter, La Ciudad, to bridge the gap between its English and Spanish readers by bringing its audiences together in a language everyone understands: community.

The project was supported by a $25,000 grant from the American Press Institute as part of the Beyond Print program.

La Ciudad –– “The City” in Spanish –– caters to the suburban Denver community of Commerce City, which has a population of more than 66,000, nearly half of which are Hispanic or Latino, according to 2022 United States Census data.

Prior to the launch of La Ciudad, CCM debuted a new website and undertook a rebranding. Put together, these moves aim to extend CCM’s digital presence and connect with individuals in need of accessible news.

Why this matters

Each edition of the newsletter features a Q&A segment with a Commerce City official or industry expert. It also includes news items, feature stories, and third-party news that CCM editors deem interesting to the Spanish-speaking audience. The newsletter is formatted in both English and Spanish, so that readers may read along in their preferred language.

“Among groups and the Spanish-speaking community, there are a number of leaders who see a real opportunity in partnering with us on their initiatives and are receptive to the fact that there is a news organization that’s paying attention to them,” said Colorado Community Media Publisher Linda Shapley.

Shapley mentioned that other news organizations have shown a keen interest in entering the Spanish-speaking demographic, seeking similar approaches to connect with these communities. This strategy has elevated CCM’s brand reputation, positioning it as a leader known for its commitment to expanding its reach through inclusivity and diversification of perspectives.


Shapley explained that the current goal is to focus on getting the newsletter out on a weekly basis, providing CCM’s Spanish-speaking audience with regular content. CCM is working to meet deadlines to be a reliable news source for this budding audience.

Another approach being adopted to enhance the project’s success is attending functions and events relevant to CCM’s new readers. This initiative began in November 2023 before the launch of the newsletter and continued into 2024 as a means to understand the needs of the community. CCM aims to make a personal introduction to the community in the hopes of fostering familiarity and trust in their brand among readers. While attending these functions, CCM representatives hand out bilingual flyers to advertise their newsletter.

Team involved

CCM is currently working with two freelance journalists who are producing La Ciudad along with a freelance editor who speaks both Spanish and English. The company hopes to hire her full-time, Shapley said. The freelancers were recruited specifically to write for the newsletter.

Others on CCM’s staff help with production and make sure the newsletter gets sent.

CCM has seen exponential growth since introducing its newsletter and expanding its overall digital brand.

As of April 2024, La Ciudad has more than 600 subscribers, an increase from just 89 in January, Shapley said. She attributed the success of La Ciudadto the effective use of time. Instead of focusing on fancy elements, the La Ciudadteam at CCM instead focuses on making sure it’s writing about and translating the right things. Pre-planning helps CCM to make informed decisions about its content, leading to the overall success of the newsletter and further brand recognition.

Shapley mentioned the most popular feature of La Ciudad is called Entrevistas, or “Interviews,” which are Q&As in both English and Spanish. These Q&As often feature content focused on environmental activism, a topic that Shapley says is important to the community it serves.

What they learned

Shapley emphasized the importance of empowering journalists to pursue stories that they know will resonate with their audiences.

“Most members of the team are not newspaper people by nature – our editor was a radio journalist, and the reporters are more multimedia-focused,” she said. “They’re learning how to use those skills to craft great narratives, and we’ll bring the more digital elements back in as we get the production process in line. To be honest, a good story is a good story, regardless of how it’s consumed. That’s what I want to be the focus of the work they’re doing.”

Next steps

CCM wants to focus now on obtaining new funding to be sure this initiative has what it needs to take root. As with many projects, obtaining funding will be crucial to the future success of La Ciudad.

“Sustainability is key and must be assessed with all of our community products. If it can show progress toward achieving a level of sustainability, through memberships, underwriting, and grants, [La Ciudad] will be around for years,” Shapley said.

How to implement this strategy

Shapley recommended that other publications wanting to implement a bilingual newsletter set goals for a three-, six-, and twelve-month plan. She advocated that having Key Performance Indicators solidified before undertaking the project will be crucial for success.

The KPIs CCM is tracking include subscriber growth, targeting 125 new signups monthly, reader engagement, aiming for an open rate exceeding 20% and click through rate of at least 5%, and revenue generation, with a goal of one to two underwriters every month.

Added resources

Here’s a flyer CCM created to promote La Ciudad at in-person events.

For more on how to develop a newsletter strategy for your news organization, here are some additional resources:

  • Shapley recommends Inbox Collective as a go-to resource for newsletter strategy ideas.

Organization overview

  • Organization: Colorado Community Media
  • Owner: The National Trust for Local News
  • Target Audience: Colorado residents located in CCM’s nearly two dozen communities looking for news and information for their area
  • Digital Subscribers: CCM has had a free website since re-launching in September 2023.
  • Print Subscribers: Approximately 5,000, plus free distribution
  • Print Status: 21 publications publish weekly and three publish monthly

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