It's hard to imagine a worse time to launch a newspaper -- but that's precisely what Randall Lichner says he's going to do. Despite the struggling economy and the surplus of publications in the area, he plans to have a paper he's dubbed the Denver Independent on the streets a week from today, October 31. "We're committing to a daily newspaper online, and we'll be coming out weekly with the top stories and additional features," notes Lichner, who recently relocated to the Denver area. He adds that the free paper will be available in local grocery stores and the like -- and subscribers can also sign up to have the Independent delivered to their home.
As for other details, there aren't many -- because Lichner leaves most questions unanswered.
Other than his wife, Sanda, who he describes as the new paper's editorial director and "jack of all trades," he declines to name other Independent employees, or even to reveal how many of them there are. "It's a small staff, but it's expanding," he says. Moreover, he won't share information about circulation, distribution or other financial matters -- and he describes the planned content in vague generalities. The papers will start at approximately 24 pages in length, with the lion's share of the stories in them focused on news and sports, along with a handful of entertainment-oriented articles -- and he pledges that none of the material will be borrowed from syndicators. "It's all original," he stresses.
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As for his own background, he says he got into the publishing business in 1999 and lists a handful of products in his portfolio, with most of them based in greater Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Hawaii. They include Newport Beach Magazine, Ocean View Magazine, This Week Las Vegas, Live! Las Vegas, the Kona Weekly, Kona Magazine and the Maui Sun News. Most of the affiliated websites are mere placeholders, with the exception of the one for Newport Beach Magazine, which has a few working links. But Lichner insists that the L.A. publications and This Week Las Vegas are currently operational, with Live! Las Vegas slated to begin circulating next month -- and the three Hawaii products are supposed to be up and running by summer 2009.
Meanwhile, most subject-area pages on the Independent site read, "THE NEWSFEED IS SCHEDULED TO GO LIVE ON OCTOBER 23, 2008" -- and as those of you with calendars probably know, today is October 24. Even so, Lichner speaks confidently about the future and promises low advertising rates and news that readers won't be able to find anywhere else. "We've been researching the Denver area for quite a while," he says, "and we think it's a great market."
Time will tell about that, and a lot of other things, too. -- Michael Roberts