Colorado Springs Independent ceasing publication for the immediate future

Andrea Chalfin/KRCC News
The building housing the Colorado Springs Independent. December 2023.

Continued financial woes have led the Colorado Springs Independent to pause publishing operations. The announcement comes after more than a year of "significant turmoil" within the organization, according to publisher Fran Zankowski. 

In a Publisher's Note posted on the Indy's website, Zankowski outlined the paper's challenges. 

"Regrettably, today, we find ourselves in a situation that necessitates a break, " he said. "Faced with overwhelming debt and an unsuccessful rebranding attempt, we have had to make difficult choices, including staff reductions, event cutbacks and printing a smaller publication."

In September 2022, the Independent announced plans to migrate to a nonprofit model. The change coincided with the exit of ownership by local publisher John Weiss. At the same time, the paper's leadership announced that the Indy, and many of its handful of sister publications, would combine to become Sixty35 Media, a nod to the altitude of Colorado Springs. As part of the changes, all operations were set to take place under the direction of a board called Citizen-Powered Media. The paper also underwent a redesign of its publications and website and relaunched.

Less than six months later, in March of 2023, the organization laid off all but one reporter from the newsroom. The paper’s photographer, cartoonist, critics and columnists were also let go. 

That same month, the rebranding plan was pulled and the storied news source again became the Colorado Springs Independent. A week later, executive editor  Brian Grossman made the decision to print  a newspaper with 32 blank pages. In May, the organization went fully remote.

Even with the cuts, Zankowski said expenses at the Indy have continued to surpass revenue and publishing operations can't continue if the organization wants to settle its debt. 

He hopes to resume publication in February 2024, debt-free and reorganized. 

"Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, our mission must endure," Zankowski wrote. "The hope remains, and the dream lives on."

According to Indy's website, the paper started 30 years ago as an alternative to The Gazette and to counter a long-dead state amendment restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. The Colorado Springs Independent is the sister publication of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. It's unclear if the printing pause also affects that paper.