May 4, 2021 - News

First-of-its-kind investment in local news announced in Colorado

A photo of Denver Post employees holding a rally in 2016.
Denver Post employees holding a rally against continued staff reductions at the newspaper in 2016. Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Colorado Sun and the National Trust for Local News announced Monday their acquisition of Colorado Community Media, a family-owned chain of 24 suburban newspapers in and around Denver. The investment partnership is a first-of-its-kind in the country.

  • The Sun, based in Denver, was formed in 2018 after the ownership of Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund, cut a third of the Denver Post newsroom to maximize profit.

Why it matters: As coverage of communities across the U.S. shrinks, doubling down here in Colorado could serve as a long-term model for private and public partnerships revitalizing local news.

What they're saying: "We couldn't count on a benevolent billionaire galloping up on a white horse. And we were worried about a hedge fund coming in," Larry Ryckman, editor-in-chief of the Sun, told NPR.

  • "This seems an ideal way for us to ensure that these community voices can continue and thrive and operate under local ownership," he said.

Details: The acquisition is backed by the Denver-based Gates Family Foundation, the Colorado Trust and the American Journalism Project.

  • The roughly 40 staffers employed at the papers will keep their jobs, and physical copies of the papers will continue to be printed for the foreseeable future, Ryckman told reporters.
  • The papers will now be run under the coalition name the Colorado News Conservancy.

The big picture: Colorado once again finds itself at the center of local news innovation and potentially in a position of leadership at a time when the local media industry could use a lifeboat.

What to watch: "If we can get this right — and I'm confident we will — maybe this does become a model for us to be able to bring other Colorado newspapers under this banner," Ryckman said.

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