Colorado Springs Independent, sister publications adopt nonprofit model as publisher retires

Abigail Beckman, KRCC
The free alt-weekly is currently owned and operated by local publisher John Weiss. According to an article on the Indy’s website, while the Indy’s mission will stay the same, it will be operated by a Colorado Springs-based group called Citizen-Powered Media.

The Colorado Springs Independent and its sister publications will adopt nonprofit funding models at the end of October. The change comes as longtime publisher John Weiss retires. 

According to an article on the Indy's website, the free publication started in 1993 as an alternative to The Gazette and to counter a long-dead state amendment restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Weiss's Colorado Publishing House also operates the Colorado Springs Business Journal; the Southeast Express; and the Pikes Peak Bulletin. 

Weiss told the Indy that he believes it's essential for Colorado Springs to have two newspapers.

"I’m confident this model — where we will supplement our income with community support — makes total sense, and I’m confident we have the team in place for success,” Weiss told the paper. “The timing is right for me because after three decades, I’m ready for new challenges.” 

One big change readers will likely notice is a lack of endorsements for candidates or ballot initiatives — a result of the publication's move to nonprofit status.

“I really, really want to emphasize that the mission hasn’t changed,” Amy Gillentine publisher, executive editor, and CEO told Indy reporter Pam Zubeck. That includes “standing up for people who are marginalized. We won’t stop shining a light where it needs to be directed.”

The paper will operate under the direction of a board and a Colorado Springs-based group called Citizen-Powered Media. 

According to Zubeck's reporting, Gillentine and other decision-makers chose the nonprofit funding model after seeing the success of other publications, like the Colorado Sun and the Times-Recorder.

“We’re confident we’re moving in the right direction and see a trend that more community newspapers will be following,” she said. “ I think it will [lead to] a more robust reporting and news gathering operation.”

Gillentine said there will be greater emphasis on digital news. A weekly print edition will still be available, though.