Some of you may have already heard the news: the group that provided start-up capital for The Colorado Sun is folding up shop.
First of all, let me assure you that The Colorado Sun is vibrant and here to stay, thanks to you and thousands of other readers and supporters. More on that in a moment.
We’re sorry to see Civil go away, and we are forever grateful for the support they provided to The Sun. We could not have launched our site without their generous, no-strings-attached grant back in 2018.
But the reality is that Civil made its last grant payment to The Sun back in October 2019 (six months earlier than promised), so we have been flying without a financial safety net since then anyway. We had high hopes for Civil and its vision of creating a new way to fund local journalism around the world, and we were saddened to see it fail. It was a worthy effort.
Now for the good news: Our readers have stepped forward in a big way. We have seen remarkable growth in our membership, a 45% surge in the past eight months that has propelled us to the verge of 10,000 paying members. More than 50,000 people subscribe to our newsletters.
We are incredibly grateful for that, too. And we’re calling on others to join us as we strive toward sustainability and answer the many challenges posed by covering the news in these tumultuous times.
It has been nearly two years since the journalists who founded The Sun stood in Denver’s Civic Center park and announced the creation of a reader-supported, journalist-owned newsroom that would be dedicated to explaining, digging and promoting understanding. On that morning, I said our future depended on the support of Coloradans, not Civil or its blockchain ambitions. I promised that we would deliver in-depth, independent, non-partisan, quality coverage, and I expressed hope that readers would decide we are worth supporting.
We have delivered on that promise — see the pile of first-place awards The Sun recently hauled in, including two for Public Service — and readers have helped us surpass every one of our growth projections. More and more people are joining our Sun community every day to support homegrown journalism that serves our state and our democracy.
While legacy newspapers sadly continue their decline, The Sun has been looked to as inspiration by other states and communities around the country who worry about losing a vital pillar in their democratic infrastructure.
I am often asked about the “secret” to The Sun’s success, and my answer is always the same. Hire great journalists, and treat readers with respect.
Since The Sun’s founding, we have shared our journalism with more than two dozen newspapers, public radio, TV and news organizations around the state. We also have joined with others to produce important journalism that aligns with our mission as a Public Benefit Corporation.
We’re proud of the impact we’re having on Colorado, and we’re thrilled that so many people have joined with us as members to help ensure that our state has the robust coverage that it deserves.
But we still have important work to do at The Sun, on the journalism side and on the business side. The economic turmoil that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic has made membership an even more important part of our financial future, and we’re pushing hard to thrive and grow. We need further community support to make that happen. So we’re asking Coloradans to join with us and help us reach 10,000 members (and beyond!) this summer. Supporting journalism is investing in a healthy democracy, one where the powerful are held accountable, where citizens have access to deeply reported, factual information, where good people and interesting places are highlighted.
If you have not yet become a member, if you want to upgrade your membership or just pitch in a few dollars toward the cause, please go to coloradosun.com/membership. Your money supports a lean, 13-member newsroom and the dozens of freelance journalists who help us produce coverage from across the state.
One final word about Civil. Shortly after our launch, a national reporter asked about our blockchain/cryptocurrency benefactors. These words I spoke have never been more true: “At the end of the day, this is not about blockchain or about cryptocurrency economics. It’s about great local journalism. And great local journalism is worth fighting for.”
It still is. We’re proud to fight for you, Colorado. And we’re so grateful to all of you who have joined and supported our efforts.
Larry Ryckman is editor and co-founder of The Colorado Sun.
The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to firstname.lastname@example.org.