Since its 2018 launch, The Colorado Sun has stayed true to its pledge to fight for local journalism. Born out of resistance to newspaper hedge fund buyouts and a commitment to solid local reporting, The Sun is once again showing its staunch allegiance to local journalism with the recent purchase of Colorado Community Media.
In partnership with the non-profit National Trust for Local News, The Sun in May took ownership of CCM’s 24 titles, spanning Brighton to Castle Rock. The Sun and National Trust will own and operate the mix of weekly and monthlies under the new title of Colorado News Conservancy, which like The Sun, is a public benefit corporation dedicated to serving Colorado readers.
“We knew what would happen if these fell into the hands of a hedge fund,” The Sun’s Editor Larry Ryckman told News & Tech. “Jobs would be lost and these communities would lose their unique local coverage.”
Since the purchase, Ryckman said he’s been in “full journalist mode,” meeting with people, taking notes and really trying to understand the biggest challenges and opportunities for the CCM titles.
From print to digital to print
The Sun’s stable of staffers aren’t strangers to print media, with many — including Ryckman — coming from The Denver Post. The all-digital Sun will carefully vet what is the best for each of its newly acquired print titles.
“These papers are successful, but many are still very print focused — and we will do it as long as it’s economically viable,” Ryckman said.
While Ryckman said The Sun has proven that a digital platform can be very successful — and many readers prefer it — he said he wouldn’t rule out leveraging print for The Sun should it become apparent that readers want that.
“We will be whatever Colorado needs us to be,” he added. “I love print and if we could make it economically feasible, we would consider that.”
Ryckman said he’s happy to take another step towards eliminating the defeatist narrative that’s plagued newspapers for too long. In partnership with the National Trust, he’s committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the CCM titles.
“Newspapers do a terrible job of covering themselves, and we all accepted defeat — but I don’t accept any of that,” he said. “We can do something about it, and we demonstrated that with the creation of The Colorado Sun three years ago.”
Since its start, The Sun has grown from 10 to 17 full-time staff, and it’s expected to grow to 20 by the end of the summer. The continued success of The Sun and all of its properties, Ryckman said, will be found in its solid but simple business plan.
“Treat readers with respect, and give them quality — and people respond to that,” he added. “Journalism isn’t dying, the old business models are — and we can continue to figure out new ways.”
As for the News Conservancy, the goal is to continue to grow it in other states.
“We see this as a way to boost editorial quality and link newsrooms to a bigger ship,” said Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, CEO and co-founder of the National Trust for Local News. “The people that funded this are the kind we want to bring together, and we’re hoping the presence of the Conservancy gives some hope and long-term vision to the industry.”