Carbondale newspaper shuts down ‘for the unforeseeable future’

Citing “the current economic situation,” Carbondale’s 34-year-old weekly newspaper, The Valley Journal, announced on Christmas Day it would cease publication. An editorial told readers to look for local news in other publications owned by Gypsum-based Colorado Mountain News Media (CMNM), including the daily Glenwood Springs Post Independent and the Aspen Times. “It is definitely not an easy decision,” the Valley Journal editorial said, “but the recession is forcing many tough decisions all around, both here in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.”

CMNM and its Reno, Nev.-based corporate parent, Swift Communications, declined comment on the move but local publishers held out hope the shutdown would only be temporary, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported. Still, the small newspaper’s staff has already been mostly dismantled:

A source said Valley Journal editor and General Manager John Stroud will remain with the company, but reporter Trina Ortega was laid off.

Reporter Jeremy Heiman recently was transferred from the Valley Journal to a sister paper, the Citizen Telegram in Rifle, and then laid off a week later.

“I don’t think that this is going to be the end of newspapers in Carbondale,” Heiman told the Daily Sentinel’s Dennis Webb. “I think there’s a vacuum there, and possibly when there are better economic times there’ll be a newspaper there again.”

The Valley Journal’s demise — if only temporary — is the latest blow in a year of bad news for newspapers across the state. Earlier this month, the owners of Denver’s oldest newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, announced the tabloid was on the market and could be shut down if a buyer isn’t found by next month. The owner of Denver’s other daily, The Denver Post, recently suffered a credit downgrade and told unions at the paper he would be seeking concessions totaling $20 million. Last month, The Vail Trail shut down at the same time industry giant Gannett cut newsroom staffing by 10 percent at its papers, including the Fort Collins Coloradoan.