Trust starts ‘right-sized’ as Gates and others fund press

Mar 21, 2024 at 06:44 pm by admin

A single-width pressline is the latest in a string of acquisitions for US non-profit publisher the National Trust for Local News.

The four-tower DGM press came from a site in Canada, and is to be installed in Denver to print the two dozen hyperlocal newspapers published by NTLN-owned Colorado Community Media, moving production from the Denver Post.

But Nieman Journalism Lab’s Corey Hutchins says it won’t come in time to save the Eastern Colorado Plainsman, which ceased publication last summer after a Gannett print site closed and others turned out to be too expensive.

Hutchins says the Trust’s “decidedly retro development” in Denver is also likely to benefit other Colorado papers that unexpectedly lost their printer when the press at the Pueblo Chieftain was “abruptly mothballed”.

The Denver Post took over production of the Chieftain in August following the closure of one of the only remaining large-scale presses in the state.

Trust chief executive and co-founder Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro told Nieman Lab their experience might also serve as a warning for others elsewhere, noting that rising costs for raw materials, labour and transportation were squeezing publishers.

The “problem in Colorado we’re trying to solve in Colorado” is likely to be a problem that’s going to roll across the country,” she said. “What’s really important and exciting about this development is that we’re basically showing how we can begin, from scratch, a right-sized, mission-driven commercial printing operation that, yes, serves the mission-driven papers that we own, but that can also serve small publishers in these ecosystems.”

She hopes newspapers will begin rolling off the Denver press in May.

The National Trust initiatives began from a coalition of local and national philanthropic investors including the Denver-based Gates Family Foundation – starting with the 2021 of the CCM papers from a couple who were retiring – and has since been replicated in Georgia and Maine.

Colorado Media project director Melissa Milios Davis said the group was able to act quickly on the press acquisition because of its ability to bring a number of groups together. “No one funder alone could have coughed up US$900,000 in a couple weeks, which is really what we turned it around in.”

Hutchins says another contributor was The Colorado Trust, which focusses largely on health equity issues, but has spent “close to US$3 million” to support local news in Colorado to help ensure a healthy news and information ecosystem.

The press is being installed by ImPressions Worldwide, based in Washington state, which sourced the towers from a Canadian customer and will install and commission it. It consists of four four-high DGM 430 towers and a Goss SSC folder.

Pictured: The Denver press (Phote ImPressions Worldwide)

Sections: Print business


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