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Denver Post staffers to launch digital news venture (VIDEO)

Author: Mark Harden - June 17, 2018 - Updated: June 19, 2018

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As The Denver Post sheds staff under its hedge-fund owners, a pair of the newspaper’s recently departed editors plan to lead a new digital news venture called The Colorado Sun.

Working with editors Dana Coffield and Larry Ryckman on the project are some of The Post’s best-known former news reporters — Jason Blevins, Jennifer Brown, Tamara Chuang, John Ingold and Kevin Simpson — along with digital staffer Eric Lubbers, who previously curated The Post’s daily email newsletter.

VIDEO: Below, Kyle Clark interviews Colorado Sun editor Larry Ryckman.

“Local news is in crisis. In an era when hedge funds and billionaires are too often calling the shots, there is a new opportunity for people to help keep fact-based local news coverage alive,” the venture says on its Kickstarter page, where it is seeking to raise $75,000.

The Colorado Sun describes itself as:

… A community-supported, journalist-owned team focused on investigative, explanatory and narrative journalism for a state in the midst of a massive evolution. … The Sun will cover the stories that others miss, from politics, business and the environment to what it means to live the Colorado lifestyle.

The venture has initial backing from the Brooklyn-based Civil Media Co., a startup founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Matthew Iles that aims to create “a decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism” based on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

Civil last October announced a $2.5 million capital raise from blockchain venture ConsenSys in support of its news platform.  It’s unclear how much of that raise will go to the Sun.

Beyond that, the Colorado venture says it won’t run advertising and instead will rely on community backing through subscriptions and donations.

How will that work? Civil describes it this way:

In Civil’s self-governing marketplace, readers may directly sponsor newsrooms, and journalists collaboratively run their own publications. Readers may subscribe to Civil-hosted publications, and will use Civil’s cryptocurrency or ‘CVL’ tokens to sponsor individual journalists, investigations and stories, creating a new collaborative model for the gathering and dissemination of news.

The Colorado Sun plans to start operations by August, Colorado Public Radio reports. The staff plans to formally announce the venture Monday at 9 a.m. at Denver’s Civic Center Park.

The new venture joins an increasingly crowded field of digital-only news operations in Colorado, including Denverite and The Colorado Independent — both of which are also led by former Denver Post staffers — along with BusinessDen, Bisnow Denver, CoStar Group’s subscription real estate news service and others, employing various business models.

They operate alongside a much larger group of local news outlets (like Colorado Politics) that offer digital news alongside “legacy” platforms such as newspapers, TV and radio stations and magazines.

The Colorado Sun staffers exited The Post as Alden Global Capital, the New York hedge-fund owners of Post parent company Digital First Media, was carrying out a series of severe cutbacks that have diminished the news staff to a fraction of its former size.

Some departed staffers have objected to what they saw as Alden’s inappropriate meddling in newsroom editorial decisions.

Meanwhile, The Gazette reported in April that a Colorado group led by the owner of the Colorado Springs Independent and the Colorado Springs Business Journal is attempting to raise money to buy The Post, with investors having pledged $10 million so far.

In 2015, Apollo Global Management LLC reportedly was in “advanced talks” to buy The Post’s parent company from Alden, but those talks did not lead to a sale.

Alden acquired The Post along with its bankrupt parent company in 2013.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.