Publisher, investors buy Aspen Daily News

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David Cook

Dave Danforth, founder of the Aspen Daily News in 1978, has sold the newspaper to acting Publisher David Cook and a group of investors. The deal became final Aug. 28 and announced in the Daily News the following day. Terms of the deal were not released, but it reportedly includes the newspaper’s printing press, located in Basalt.

The purchase was made by Cook, his business partner Spencer McKnight and their company, Paperbag Media, and a trio of Aspen real estate leaders, said a staff report in the other city newspaper, the Aspen Times. Noted that report: “Joining in the deal for the newspaper are Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty office co-owners Craig Morris and Ernie Fyrwald and broker Ben Roos. That group will not have a say in the daily operations or news decisions.”

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Spencer McKnight

The investors will reportedly focus on advertising, while Cook also noted emphasis on digital and other upgrades. Cook said the investors saw “the current rise of hyper-local media” as a benefit of the buy. Cook and McKnight also launched Aspen 82, a television station, in 2012 after Plum TV filed for bankruptcy.

Danforth is currently leading Aspen Journalism, a nonprofit dedicated to long-form investigative work. Cook was the general manager for the Daily News from 2004-2008, then came back to the newspaper as acting publisher in 2014. He said the current staff will remain under the new ownership group.

Ralph Routon announces retirement

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Ralph Routon

Ralph Routon, executive editor of Colorado Publishing House, parent company of the Colorado

Springs Independent, recently announced his retirement, effective Sept. 27. He will be named executive editor emeritus at that time.

An award-winning journalist, Routon “still plans to contribute to our family of newspapers in the coming years, and help out as needed,” said an Independent post by J. Adrian Stanley on Aug. 31. The article said Routon plans to spend most of his time with family and friends, and traveling.

Routon grew up in Hope, Ark., and early on was sports news editor for the Arkansas Gazette and sports editor of the Arkansas Democrat. He went on to work as a sports editor and columnist at The Gazette in Colorado Springs from 1977-2001. From there, he traveled south to serve as editor of the Northwest Florida Daily News, executive editor of the Amarillo Globe-News and sports editor of Florida Today. He returned to Colorado Springs to work at the Independent in 2006.

In addition, Routon handled the transition when Indy parent company Colorado Publishing House bought the Colorado Springs Business Journal from The Dolan Company in June 2012. He has also been publisher of the Pikes Peak Bulletin.

The Gazette using its Brainworks

The Gazette in Colorado Springs has put Brainworks Advertising, Pagination and Xpance to work transforming advertising production to digital form. The newspaper went live on Sept. 1 with the product from Brainworks / Media Software Solutions, which has offices in Kansas, New York and Canada.

The move also includes four weekly newspapers: The Pikes Peak Courier, The Tribune, The Cheyenne Edition and The Woodmen Edition.

Brainworks Software has been installed at more than 1,000 North American newspapers over the past 25 years, reports the company. Products include fully integrated advertising, circulation and ad production tracking, online proofing for print and online ads, billing, accounts receivable, contract and credit management, classified pagination and ROP ad layout. It also offers Brainworks CRM, a system that supports web, tablet, laptop and smartphone platforms – which The Gazette is scheduled to begin in October.

News Media Alliance celebrates anniversary

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NMA President & CEO David Chavern

News Media Alliance (NMA), formerly the Newspaper Association of America, is celebrating that rebranding just one year ago. To mark the occasion, NMA President & CEO David Chavern wrote a column titled, “One Year Later, The Alliance Stands Strong.”

Wrote Chavern: “I am very happy about the continuing evolution and growth of the association – and more optimistic than ever about the industry. The decision to rebrand didn’t come from any desire to run away from the term ‘newspaper.’ It came from an understanding that ‘newspaper’ simply wasn’t big enough to describe the business anymore.”

He noted that in the first year, the NMA had launched a series of products to better serve its membership, including access to the latest industry research, an exclusive online job board, a members-only online discussion forum, regular webinars and daily email newsletters, and access to exclusive events such as adXchange, where members can interact directly with major advertisers.

Inland Press revamps Publisher Benchmarks

Inland Press Association is offering a totally revamped Publisher Benchmarks, a web-based financial and operational benchmarking tool for newspaper and media executive at all levels of management. The initial service was launched by Inland and partner Mather Economics four years ago.

The service “allows users to see strengths and challenge areas at a glance, and gauge performance from top-level views to deeper dives into comparable data within their organization,” noted an Inland release. It also allows users to compare their own data against their peers, sorted by company size, region, ownership type, business model and more.

The revamped version “dramatically reduces the time and effort required to enter data, while providing the comparisons, metrics and performance insights that make the strategic tool vital to media organizations,” plus makes it easier to add digital metrics via automated processes. Instead of the former 330 data points users needed to submit, the new service requires only 45 data items, inputted quarterly.