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Conversations with Vicky Collins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vicky Collins. 

Hi Vicky, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up in Hawaii and the spirit of Aloha has stayed with me even though I’ve been on the Mainland since college. I knew from career day in middle school that I wanted to go into television production. After college at CU Boulder, I moved to San Francisco and began my career in local news and programming. My career path has taken me across the country and back and we settled in Denver in 1997 where we raised our two boys. In 1996 I began working with NBC, first with NBC Olympics and then with NBC Network News. I cover stories all over the U.S., and sadly many of those are mass shootings and natural disasters. Working in television news is challenging. I got to where I am by being fearless and never giving up.

I have my own production company called Teletrends and under that umbrella is Bucket List Community Cafe which is a community journalism site for North Denver that believes we build community by sharing our stories. We have a unique niche at the intersection of community and journalism. Our goal is to be Denver’s hub for information, inspiration, and interaction. A place to get to know your neighbors. It is inspired and supported by the community we serve. We have a website, a weekly newsletter, a monthly podcast and daily news feeds on Facebook and Instagram. We work with emerging journalists and students from the University of Colorado in Boulder and Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Being involved in national news and community news gives me a unique perspective.  Our experiences at the grassroots mirror what we see as a nation.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As much as we imagine that a career is like a graph pointing up and to the right that is often not the case. I have found it to be steps forward and back. Huge achievements followed by layoffs, successful shows followed by cancellations, boom years followed by lean years. Being an entrepreneur and a freelancer is not an easy way to make a living. It can be feast and famine. It takes lots of grit and determination to weather the ups and downs. I still can’t imagine doing anything else.

I have worked in newsrooms and have struggled with many of the things that other women go through. Being undervalued, sexual harassment, abusive bosses. I have also had the opportunity to work with generous colleagues who have taught me the art and craft of storytelling and using video to tell stories. News is a pressure cooker. I am forever grateful to those who offered me their shoulders to stand on and encouraged me. It is important for me to do the same for others.  It is very rewarding to work with the young journalists and journalism entrepreneurs.  They have mad skills and i love watching them grow.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
In my heart, I am a storyteller. I use words, video and photography to tell stories that make people care, that make people take action, that evoke emotion. As a producer, I am responsible for the content and coordination of the team and logistics to bring all of this together. I am a go-to person who is called on when $%&@ hits the fan like wildfires, hurricanes, and mass shootings.

I also get to tell stories that are very inspiring of people who have good ideas or are pushing through difficulties and emerging triumphant. I am good at developing relationships with people who are going through the worst times of their lives and supporting them so they develop the courage to tell their stories. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I respect that.

Meeting these people and producing their stories has changed my life. They taught me endurance and grace and pushing through hardship. These are the stories that make me most proud. They are usually about people that are doing good in the world and their communities. They have inspired me to work to make a difference in the world and my community as well.

As the publisher of Bucket List Community Cafe, I bring all my news and entrepreneurial chops to independent journalism. We are working in an ecosystem of disrupters who are trying to invent new ways to do news at a time when it is under attack from all sides. I am very proud of this effort. It is incredibly challenging to raise the money to make it sustainable but I believe strongly in this mission. I just returned from the Independent News Sustainability Summit in Austin and it was very energizing to be in the room with 500 publishers, editors and funders who are working to reinvent what community journalism can be.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
People are often surprised to learn I am from Hawaii. My family moved there in 1961, shortly after it became a state and I still have a love for the islands. Hawaii still calls me. It was a unique place to grow up. A cultural melting pot set in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I have traveled all over the world and there is still no place like Hawaii. When I need to center myself, I think of the colors of the sea and sunset and I am calm. It is my happy place. Hawaii has more than its share of problems these days but the values of aloha and ohana are still alive and in my heart.

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