Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Owner cutting staff at several newspapers, including Grand Junction Free Press; papers shut down

The group that owns the Grand Junction Free Press and newspapers in Glenwood Springs and Aspen is cutting several positions at those papers and has shut down more of its weekly publications.

The Grand Junction Free Press has laid off two of its five reporters, in addition to at least two more staffers in recent weeks.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent, also part of Colorado Mountain News Media, laid off at least five people Tuesday, including two reporters and a photographer.

Bob Brown, president of the newspapers’ parent company, Nevada-based Swift Communications, said declining revenues from their newspapers around the Western Slope made the layoffs necessary. Cutbacks were considered during the summer, but the Western Slope’s economy was still buoyed by a thriving natural gas industry.

Brown said readers may not notice a difference in the Free Press because staffers will be asked to work harder, and the paper will continue to focus on people stories and features.

Jenna Weatherred, publisher of the Aspen Times, said that paper laid off some people this week. Altogether, it has cut staffing by about 20 percent, or six positions, over a few months, partly through attrition.

Also, Colorado Mountain News Media has decided to close down the Leadville Chronicle and La Tribuna, a Spanish-language weekly. The newspaper group last week closed its Valley Journal weekly newspaper in Carbondale, and recently shut down the Vail Trail weekly.

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