The Colorado Independent, a state-based satellite website funded by the Washington, D.C.'s Center For Independent Media, is shrinking in order to survive. That's the bottom line according to David Bennahum, CIM's president and CEO, who responded to an inquiry prompted by a PolitickerCo.com report. That piece, penned by Jeremy Pelzer, stated that six Colorado Independent employees were laid off Monday in a restructuring move that coincided with similar cuts at the Minnesota Independent, a sister site. No layoffs have been announced at four other affiliates, in Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico and Washington.
Bennahum answered a series of e-mail questions about the Independent, with his replies touching on the theory behind the layoffs at the politically progressive site. He also addresses the future of the operation in the wake of widespread Democratic wins on election day. Click "More" to read his comments. -- Michael Roberts
Westword (Michael Roberts): Are the reports about the layoffs contained in the [the PolitickerCo.com article linked above] accurate?
David Bennahum: The number of people is accurate.
WW: If so, what are the reasons for the layoffs?
DB: We are reorganizing to ultimately have more fulltime writers on the site. It will take several months to get there.
WW: In the past, Colorado Independent representatives have emphasized that the organization is meant to be a permanent part of the media landscape, as opposed to something temporary that would no longer be necessary after the election. Is that still the philosophy, or has your point of view on that topic changed?
DB: We are a permanent part of the landscape. With these changes, we expect that we'll have the same number of stories per week as we currently do. After all, we've been here through two election cycles. So we know there'll be plenty to cover between now and 2010.
WW: Given the success of Democratic candidates nationally and in Colorado, does the Colorado Independent still have an important role to play?
DB: Yes. Covering the state legislature, and the looming topic of redistricting, along with important issues on the front burner: such as the economy, environment, energy.
WW: Does the Center For Independent Media remain committed to maintaining the presence of the Colorado Independent over the long haul?
DB: Definitely. These changes will increase our ability to report on current events. We expect the site to thrive.
WW: Given similar reports about layoffs at your Minnesota project, are plans to expand to other cities and states now on the back burner?
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DB: No. We are restructuring our sites to be more efficient. This reorganization will help us to grow to more states in the next 2 years. Our plans are 4-6 by the end of 2010.
WW: If not, do you have specific dates for launches — or will that be dictated by economic conditions?
DB: We have no specific dates for new states. But we anticipate at least one new program by Q2-09.