Carbondale’s weekly paper ceases publication

Becky Young and Pat Noel weren’t thinking about making a lot of money when they started the weekly Valley Journal newspaper in Carbondale in 1974.

“We were young and naïve and soulful, and it seemed like a really wonderful town and it deserved a paper,” Young said.

As of this week, the town no longer has its own paper. The Valley Journal announced in an editorial Thursday that it was stopping publication, at least temporarily, because of the recession.

The decision by Swift Communications, the paper’s owner, mystified Young a bit.

“The notion that it’s unsustainable now rubs me the wrong way, but we’re talking corporate reality. We’re not talking about a couple of kids starting a paper in the town they loved,” she said.

Colorado Mountain News Media, Swift’s group of area newspapers — which include the Grand Junction Free Press — isn’t commenting on the decision. In its editorial, the Valley Journal said Carbondale’s need for a paper “is still very real,” and the hope is to revive the paper when the economy allows.

In the meantime, the plan is to cover Carbondale in Swift’s Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Aspen Times.

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.

Longtime Carbondale Town Trustee John Foulkrod said he hopes other local papers help fill the void created by the Valley Journal’s shutdown.

But the paper provided detailed, community-based news that other papers haven’t, he said.

“It’s a shame because we’ve always had the weekly newspaper that kept people up to date on local affairs,” he said.

He wondered if anyone might start a new paper in the town at a time when the industry is struggling nationally, in part because of competition on the Internet.

In spite of his own job loss, Heiman holds out hope for print journalism in Carbondale.

“Carbondale is a pretty dynamic community, and the Valley Journal was kind of the voice of that community,” Heiman said.

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


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