Media, Printing & Graphics  April 24, 2009

INDenver Times investors, staffers to part ways

DENVER – Backers of INDenverTimes, the online-only news service staffed by former employees of the defunct Rocky Mountain News, announced Thursday that they will be moving ahead with a smaller, more focused site than originally planned.

At the same time, according to a statement on the indenvertimes.com site, “certain members of the INDT newsroom group, led by co-founder Steve Foster and business writer David Milstead, intend to seek backers for their original vision of a robustly staffed online newsroom.”

The three dozen journalists were thrown out of work, along with the rest of the Rocky staff, when the 150-year-old paper folded on Feb. 27.

INDT originally announced a goal of 50,000 subscribers by April 23 for the service to launch on May 4. When only 3,000 actually signed up to pay for premium content as the deadline approached, investor Kevin Preblud told Denver weekly Westword that the launch would happen anyway.

But that would have required a smaller staff with a narrower focus, what Preblud called “a lot tighter, smaller, nichier, edgier, setup from day one with a revenue structure that can come close to meeting the cost structure.”

The staffers balked. Foster said he saw INDenverTimes as “a replacement for a major metro newspaper. I don’t think you can do it with eight to 10 people.”

The disagreement is over the business model, not the content. In a month, the site attracted 70,000 visitors and 311,000 page views and became one of the top 15 local media sites in the Denver area, Preblud said.

“We had a robust news product in a very short time, working for free,” Foster said in an interview posted on Poynter.org. “I clearly believe that we are on to something.”

During the pre-launch period, all content on INDT was freely available. “I think a lot of people were holding back on subscriptions because they didn’t know exactly what they were subscribing to,” Foster said.

The uncertainty over the future of news delivery is not confined to Denver, according to Preblud. “There is a long list of online media outlets that are working hard all over the country to create a new paradigm that will transform local journalism,” he said in the INDT statement.

In Seattle, where the Post-Intelligencer printed its last edition on St. Patrick’s Day, former P-I staffers are emulating the public-broadcasting model. The Seattle PostGlobe is a nonprofit, free-access publication funded by donations, with a staff of about 20. It has yet to attract any big donors, but has entered into an arrangement with the Seattle Weekly to share advertising revenues.

DENVER – Backers of INDenverTimes, the online-only news service staffed by former employees of the defunct Rocky Mountain News, announced Thursday that they will be moving ahead with a smaller, more focused site than originally planned.

At the same time, according to a statement on the indenvertimes.com site, “certain members of the INDT newsroom group, led by co-founder Steve Foster and business writer David Milstead, intend to seek backers for their original vision of a robustly staffed online newsroom.”

The three dozen journalists were thrown out of work, along with the rest of the Rocky staff, when the…

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