Kevin Slimp: Somebody should be shaking in their boots just about now

Kevin Slimp    stateofnewspapers.com

I was just reading a story about The Colorado Sun, the upstart online news venture begun by the former staff of the beleaguered Denver Post, owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, better known as “Digital First” in these parts.

It seems that former Post senior editor Larry Rickman will serve as editor of The Colorado Sun, joined by reporters Tamara Chuang, Jennifer Brown, Jason, Blevins, John Infold and Kevin Simpson. In addition, Eric Lubbers and Dana Coffield, who were senior editors at the Post will join the new endeavor.

Initial expenses for The Sun are funded by “Civil Foundation, a start-up focused on funding journalism.

Hearing about The Colorado Sun took me back to 2007, when I was asked during a Q&A at a press association if I thought AOL’s new “Patch” would be a serious threat to community newspapers. At the time, my answer was, “no.” I’d seen too many trendy online news ventures come and go.

So is the Civil Foundation any different? It’s too early to say. But I see a few differences. First, look at the staff of The Sun. Where Patch was staffed with one or two reporters (I had a few who were friends) covering a large area, as well as dealing with everything else related to their local operations, so far, at least, it looks like The Sun is hiring some heavyweights.

Will they succeed in the long run?

I don’t know. But I do know this: If I were a CEO or upper level manager at Alden, Gannett, Gatehouse, Tronc or any other number of profit-driven news organizations (Don’t get puffed up because I didn’t mention your group. I know who you are), I would be SHAKING IN MY BOOTS.

Full Discloser: I don’t believe I’ve ever used all-caps in a column before.

My guess is these CEOs and executives are pretending that everything is hunky-dory, so their shareholders and boards don’t catch on that things are falling apart at lighting speed. Dropping circulations among these groups, as well as decreased advertising revenue and staff dissatisfaction is the recipe for abysmal failure.

Add to that the news of LA Times sale to California inventor and investor Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who seems to have a new idea about the way metro newspapers should be run, and trust me, there is trouble afoot.

I’ve been wrong before. Not nearly as often, it seems, as the folks who run corporate newspaper groups. But time will tell. It always does.

What was it I kept being told in 2008? Oh yes, newspapers would not be around in ten years. Yes, time does always tell.

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