Five years ago, a group of us launched this Colorado Sun ship into uncertain waters. We knew there were storm clouds looming ahead in this industry, but we were dedicated to serving the people of our state with the in-depth, independent, quality journalism that we all need to navigate these turbulent times.

The founders of The Colorado Sun prepare to launch for the first time on Sept. 10, 2018. (Colorado Sun archive)

We started with a few simple propositions: News is too important to be left in the hands of hedge funds. A healthy democracy requires a robust, free press. Quality matters. Local ownership matters. Treat readers and each other with respect. Bring understanding. Shed light. Remain nonpartisan.

We had 10 journalist owners/employees, zero readers and very high hopes as The Sun prepared to go live on the morning of Sept. 10, 2018. Within minutes, thousands of Coloradans joined with us to help build a vital community resource that could serve us all.

Today, we’re announcing that The Sun intends to chart a new course as a nonprofit news outlet. We’re excited about the change, and we hope you will be, too, and will become a Sun member if you aren’t already. This transition is in process, and we will update you when our new nonprofit status becomes official.

Today, we’re announcing that The Sun intends to chart a new course as a nonprofit news outlet.

The Sun has grown and evolved over the past five years, and this new structure best represents our values and our vision of what we can be. We now have 27 employees and about 125,000 subscribers to our newsletters. We have thousands of paying members who make our work possible. More than a million people routinely visit our website every month, and Sun readers read more than just the headlines. They regularly spend around three minutes on each story — more than three times longer than readers spend on digital stories at most legacy newspapers.

That’s a testament to how our stories connect and resonate. It also reflects the high quality that readers have come to expect from The Sun — quality that has been recognized in the dozens of awards we have brought home in the past five years while competing against the largest news outlets in Colorado and across the West.

The Sun has always operated with the heart of a nonprofit, but until now, we have been a public benefit corporation. That meant that while we theoretically were a for-profit business, public service was woven into the DNA of our work. Accountability matters, so we have independent outside audits performed annually — you can read those reports on our site. Every dollar that went into The Sun was plowed back into producing more news for our readers.

It often took lengthy efforts to explain what a public benefit corporation is and how it works. Friends and supporters urged us to make it easier for people and philanthropists to donate to our cause. So today, we’ve decided to embrace nonprofit status as a simple, powerful representation of who we are and why we do this work. 

We belong to you, Colorado. 

We also decided to preserve an important element that we believe sets The Sun apart from other news outlets: Sun journalists will always have a voice and a vote in the operation of our business. As a self-directed nonprofit, Sun employees will always be able to help shape our vision and the direction that we take. Community members will serve on our board, too, because we believe The Sun must always reflect the values and views of our fellow Coloradans.

Even with our new structure and tax status, The Sun will remain committed to the basic business model that we built five years ago. It’s a model that has attracted national attention and interest from other communities eager to create their own versions of The Sun. We’re cheering them on, mindful that the United States has lost about 2,500 newspapers over the past two decades. Our democracy and our state need journalism today more than ever, and we urgently need new models as legacy newspapers continue to shrink and disappear.

The Sun’s model is anchored in the foundation of community membership. Our readers provide the bulk of our funding, with sponsors and philanthropic groups providing the rest. As our loyal readers know, The Sun has no paywall, meaning that our news is free to read. We believe that everyone deserves access to quality, vetted information about our state, whether they can afford to pay for it or not. But we do ask readers to help if they can, with a $10 a month membership that helps us continue to do this work for you.

Sept. 29, 2023 ☀ Auraria Campus Downtown Denver


Speaking of community, we here at The Sun are busy preparing for our inaugural SunFest on Friday, Sept. 29.

We expect hundreds of people will attend this all-day event at the Auraria campus in downtown Denver and hear from Gov. Jared Polis, both of our U.S. senators and a number of other panelists all dedicated to exploring paths toward a better Colorado. We’ll be talking about politics, policy and everything from wolves to electric cars to homelessness to mosquitoes.

We’ve been dreaming of such an event since our founding — COVID had other plans, of course — and we’re delighted we can finally convene these lively conversations. Our Sun team will be there, and we hope you can join us, too.

When we stood together in Denver’s Civic Center park to announce the creation of The Sun five years ago, Sun founders made a couple of simple promises: We will be whatever Colorado needs us to be. And we will work hard to earn your support.

I’m proud to say that we’ve delivered on those promises, and we’re thrilled that so many of you have come along with us on this amazing journey.

We’re stronger together, Colorado. Thanks for your help.

Larry Ryckman is Editor and co-founder of The Colorado Sun.

Previously he was senior editor at The Denver Post, managing editor at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and city editor at the Greeley Tribune. Ryckman spent 22 years at The Associated Press, where he was assistant managing editor, a national editor and supervisor of the AP's national desk in New York.

He spent nearly four years as a Moscow correspondent for AP and helped cover the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of a new Russia. He also supervised AP's coverage of the Columbine High School massacre and directed AP's coverage of the presidential election recount in Florida in 2000.
Email: Twitter: @larryryckman