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The Colorado Sun is now part owner of 2 dozen community newspapers

The husband and wife owners of Colorado Community Media were nearing retirement and said they wanted the newspapers to remain under local control.

COLORADO, USA — The Colorado Sun, a local digital-only news enterprise founded in 2018, has partnered with a new nonprofit to purchase a network of 24 weekly or monthly newspapers in Colorado.

The National Trust for Local News and The Colorado Sun were announced on Monday as partners owners of the papers previously owned by Colorado Community Media (CCM).

Jerry and Ann Healey were the owners and publishers of the papers. As they neared retirement, they turned to the Colorado Media Project and the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) for help finding new owners who would keep CCM news outlets locally controlled. 

> The video above is from when the Colorado Sun first launched in 2018.

"This was the first group that really looked at us differently. We did have a few other inquiries along the way, and it was always financially driven," Jerry Healy said. "This exciting partnership allows Ann and I to step back with a sense of gratitude, knowing these local voices will continue to be heard and that these news sources will not only thrive, but also innovate as they move forward under new local leadership."

Their publications reach 330,000 people in the Metro Area at their doorstep or mailbox under the banners: Littleton Independent, Englewood Herald, Clear Creek Courant, Elbert County News, Fort Lupton Press and Parker Chronicle.

"We're so micro-local that it really makes us different than any other form of media in the metro area," Jerry Healey said. "We try not to have any favorites, but the one that has the most history with us is the Littleton Independent because that's where we got started in Littleton together, in 1990, that was our very first newspaper that we bought."

"We cover school boards, we cover city governments, we do the story on your next door neighbor," Ann Healey said. "We provide that watchdog service for government, accountability."

This is the first acquisition for The National Trust for Local News, a nonprofit established to provide funding and advisory services to local news enterprises committed to local ownership.

Learn more about the future of the papers and how to support them here

"We, at the National Trust for Local News, have a mission of keeping local news in local hands," said Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, CEO of The National Trust for Local News. "For any news organizations that is overly reliant on advertising or overly reliant on subscriptions or overly reliant on foundation funding or overly reliant on billionaire funding, those news organizations are ultimately setting themselves up for a huge risk."

The national nonprofit is facilitating the loan through multiple foundations and individual donors.

"More viewers like you, more readers like you, more listeners like you are going to have to step up and really work to support their news organizations in different ways so that we can maintain local ownership and maintain local control," said Hansen Shapiro.

RELATED: Colorado Sun surpasses fundraising goal

The Colorado Sun, which was launched in 2018 by former Denver Post journalists who resigned in protest after deep newsroom cuts by the newspaper's hedge fund owner, will serve as operator and part owner. Additional technical support will come from COLab and the Colorado Press Association.

RELATED: Op-Ed: Local News Collaboration in the Time of COVID

"I know there were a lot of people out there who didn't think we would make it one year, much less than three years," said Larry Ryckman, editor and co-founder of The Colorado Sun. "We're not out-of-town owners coming in to clean shop and lay people off. We're here because we care about the communities that these papers serve. We care about the journalists."

Lately, when newspapers are purchased, it's a hedge fund or investment company taking over.

"Communities themselves can step up and save local news. We don't have to accept hedge fund ownership of local news," said Ryckman.

The deal includes the following papers:

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