McClatchy, Google-backed Longmont news outlet goes live

LONGMONT — Longmont-area newshounds now have a new source for information as the Longmont Leader, a new digital news website, launched last week.

The Leader, which is free to read and is being built out of the foundation established by the former Longmont Observer, is owned and operated by McClatchy Newspapers Inc. (OTC-MNIQQ), a national news company based in California with 31 newspapers around the country.

The effort is led by editor-in-chief Macie May. Julie Baxter, a former editor with the Boulder Daily Camera and other Prairie Mountain Media newspapers, was recently brought aboard as managing editor, and former Denver Post reporter Monte Whaley is the Leader’s first reporter. The site plans to hire an additional, bilingual journalist. 

As part of it’s Compass Experiment, a partnership with Google aimed at developing sustainable local news outlets, McClatchy acquired the Longmont Observer, a community-operated, free, nonprofit local news website run by volunteers. The Observer began operations after the Longmont Times-Call, the community daily, was acquired by Media News Group division Prairie Mountain Publishing, which later closed the local office and moved staff to the Boulder Daily Camera office in Boulder.

“I’d kept an eye on Longmont from pretty much the time we started” in 2019, Mandy Jenkins, general manager of the Compass Experiment, told BizWest. 

She cited a Columbia Journalism Review article from last year that quoted Longmont Observer founder Scott Converse as her introduction to Longmont and it’s media landscape. 

“I was interested in the plight of Longmont with the Times-Call being cut back so much and being moved out of town to Boulder,” she said. “This is a growing area with more and more people coming in but less and less news around to serve those people.”

The Compass Experiment’s first venture, Mahoning Matters, an Ohio-based digital-only news outlet, launched in October to serve residents of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.  

Compass leaders plan to expand to a third city, but that location has yet to be determined. 

McClatchy filed for bankruptcy protection in February, but Jenkins said the Leader is somewhat insulated from the company’s tenuous financial position.

“Our funding comes from Google, and because of that we’re not necessarily as tied to what’s happening at McClatchy,” she said. “I always say that we’re like this little Vatican City inside McClatchy’s Italy.”

The Compass Experiment properties don’t rely on McClatchy for advertising revenue, nor are they connected to the media chain’s content management system.

While the Leader is positioned to serve as a competitor to the Times-Call, it’s leaders did not take direct shots at the Prairie Mountain Media-owned paper during Tuesday’s interview with BizWest.

“I think that more news is always good in any community,” Jenkins said. “We can’t really be worried about what happens with a different company. We just want there to be more news out of Longmont and for more people to have access to that news.”

In fact, Jenkins didn’t rule out future collaborations with other outlets.

“Maybe at some point we can work with the Times-Call if that’s something they’re interested in.”

One way the Leader plans to differentiate itself is in its focus on bi-lingual reporting and stories of interest to Longmont’s sizable Latino community, May said. 

“We want to do a little bit more of connecting our neighbors,” she said. “… Longmont itself is really going to be the driver in telling us where we need to be going and what we need to be looking into.”

 

Disclosure: Reporter Lucas High has previously worked for both the Longmont Times-Call and McClatchy. BizWest currently licenses its content to Prairie Mountain Media.

© 2020 BizWest Media LLC

 

LONGMONT — Longmont-area newshounds now have a new source for information as the Longmont Leader, a new digital news website, launched last week.

The Leader, which is free to read and is being built out of the foundation established by the former Longmont Observer, is owned and operated by McClatchy Newspapers Inc. (OTC-MNIQQ), a national news company based in California with 31 newspapers around the country.

The effort is led by editor-in-chief Macie May. Julie Baxter, a former editor with the Boulder Daily Camera and other Prairie Mountain Media newspapers, was recently brought aboard as managing editor, and former Denver Post reporter Monte Whaley is the Leader’s first reporter. The site plans to hire an additional, bilingual journalist. 

As part of it’s Compass Experiment, a partnership with Google aimed at developing sustainable local news outlets, McClatchy acquired the Longmont Observer, a community-operated, free, nonprofit local news website run by volunteers. The Observer began operations after the Longmont Times-Call, the community daily, was acquired by Media News Group division Prairie Mountain Publishing, which later closed the local office and moved staff to the Boulder Daily Camera office in Boulder.

“I’d kept an eye on Longmont from pretty much the time we started” in 2019, Mandy Jenkins, general manager of the Compass Experiment, told BizWest. 

She cited a Columbia Journalism Review article from last year that quoted Longmont Observer founder Scott Converse as her introduction to Longmont and it’s media landscape. 

“I was interested in the plight of Longmont with the Times-Call being cut back so much and…