Fed up with ongoing budget cuts and layoffs at the Denver Post, an ambitious group of former Post journalists has created an online news publication called the Colorado Sun.
Partnering with Civil, the Sun emerges as a way to serve readers without relying on advertising or a paywall, and instead will seek donors and sponsors interested in supporting local journalism. According to the eight founding journalists— all of which are equal partners in terms of ownership—Civil’s approach resonated the most with the group.
“Civil has made it very clear that it intends to be a platform for our journalism—not a publisher,” said co-founder and editor Larry Ryckman, who most recently served as senior editor for news at the Post. “Civil will have no say in the editorial decisions and direction at the Sun.”
Ryckman said despite leaving the Post, all of the founders still had aspirations to continue to do great journalism, which is why they wanted to start the Sun. The group began to assemble itself pretty quickly with Civil providing financial backing.
“I think perhaps the biggest lesson that we learned about a startup is that all of us have had to wear many different hats in laying the foundation for why we jumped into this in the first place—which, of course, is actually doing great journalism,” Ryckman said.
The Sun aims to produce that great journalism for local readers in Colorado, showcasing the kind of news stories that are getting tougher to produce due to cutbacks in a traditional newsroom. The Sun’s website (coloradosun.com) will highlight the group’s strengths: investigative, watchdog, explanatory and long-form narrative journalism that the journalists have been known for throughout their careers.
Because the community is interested in supporting strong local journalism, more than $160,000 has been pledged to a Kickstarter campaign (surpassing the goal of $75,000 in just three days). The funds will be used on newsgathering, hiring freelancers and covering fees for public records requests.
“Ultimately, our readers and the people of Colorado will help decide how big and how ambitious the Sun can be,” said Ryckman.
In Denver, the Sun joins other niche publications like the Denverite and the Colorado Independent, but Ryckman believes they all have a place in the journalism ecosystem.
“People ask us about our competition, but as one of our co-founders pointed out, ‘complement is the new competition,’” he said.