Carbondale residents look to fill newspaper void
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE ” Carbondale community activists are in the throes of birthing a new community newspaper to replace The Valley Journal, and there is even a website already set up and ready to receive content.
The effort comes just a little more than a month after the final edition of “the VJ,” as the hometown paper for 34 years was known, and one organizer predicted the paper could become a reality “within the month.”
According to Rebecca Young, co-founder of the Journal and spokeswoman for the group working to launch the new weekly paper, it probably will be named The Sopris Sun and focus exclusively on Carbondale.
A website set up by Young, devoid of content, can be viewed at http://www.soprissun.com.
As for competition from daily newspapers serving the Roaring Fork Valley between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, Young remarked that the Journal had the same challenge.
“It always did have competitors,” she recalled, mentioning Aspen Today and the Glenwood Post as two dailies the VJ went up against in the mid-1970s.
Today, The Aspen Times and Glenwood Springs Post Independent both are owned by Colorado Mountain News Media, the corporation that decided last year to discontinue The Valley Journal for economic reasons. A third daily, the Aspen Daily News, is owned by a separate corporation.
Jenna Weatherred, publisher of The Aspen Times and former publisher of the Journal, when told of the plans for a new paper, said simply: “We wish them luck.”
Young, who currently works in community relations at the Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said she came up with the inspiration for the Sopris Sun while on vacation with her college-aged son in December, recalling that her thoughts about the end of the Journal “just didn’t feel right.”
On her return to Carbondale, she kept hearing from community members concerned that the town had lost its paper, evoking “the sense of, ‘We have to do something about this.’ It’s just not OK with us to not have a paper.'”
She said a hometown paper is needed to keep track of local growth and development projects, and the kinds of small-town community affairs that filled the pages of the Journal.
“Carbondale is not a plain-vanilla town … its solutions are always creative, out of the box.”
So Young sent out a plea on the Town Mothers e-mail list, asking if anyone was willing to help launch a new paper. “The response was stunning,” she said.
Some 45 people got back to her, and a core of organizers was formed that is working on everything from a business plan to signing up writers, editors, photographers and others. As stated on the website, the paper is “envisioned as a nonprofit, sustainable community entity,” and the site contains a plea for interested community members to get involved.
“I’m going to help with the launch,” Young stressed, explaining that with two children, one of them developmentally disabled, and a full-time job, she has her hands full.
And, she said, there are enough people involved already to get the job done without her. While the planning is still under way, Young said confidently that the paper could put out its first edition “within the month.”
Young said three property owners in town have volunteered free office space in return for advertising, including a space that housed the Valley Journal offices for years ” above The Village Smithy restaurant.
In addition, she said, a printer has been arranged, although she declined to identify the printer by name “because all that is so political.”
In general, Young said, the Sun will not try to cover government meetings, which she said can be amply covered by the dailies.
“I kind of think the old model of weeklies is dead,” she remarked.
Instead, she said, the Sun will focus on “what comes after the meetings, what are the biggest subjects, the impacts” of decisions made at government meetings.
Plus, she said, the paper will publish “the human features” ” stories she said are intended “to introduce people to one another,” from one generation to the next or from one social sphere to another.
In particular, she said, the Sun plans to make its facilities and pages available to The Roaring Fork Rampage, a newspaper published by high school students that has appeared in the pages of The Valley Journal in the past.
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