Mini-newspaper war brewing in Longmont

A while back -- as in the previous millennium -- an announcement about the launch of a newspaper wouldn't qualify as unusual. Times have a-changed, though, making the decision by the Boulder Daily Camera to publish the Longmont Weekly beginning about a month from now seem like either a remarkably bold move or an example of outmoded thinking.

Granted, the paper has a notable head start. The Daily Camera is now part of Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group empire, led by the Denver Post -- and LW will be inserted into approximately 23,000 Sunday Posts and Cameras in addition to distribution to non-subscribers and placement in newsracks to the tune of another 15,000 copies or so. For that reason, the paper, to be overseen by former Camera editorial page editor Clay Evans (who's spent much of the past two years as a fundraiser for the Longmont Humane Society), seems like a full frontal attack on the Longmont Times-Call, which has fended off advances from the Camera for decades. Predictably, the Times-Call doesn't even rate a mention in the Camera's piece about the project, which focuses mostly on comments by Evans and Camera publisher Al Manzi. However, a story in the Boulder County Business Report that appeared the previous day includes quotes from Times-Call managing editor John Vahlenkamp, who didn't know anything about the new competition until receiving the BCBR's call. His reaction? Mild curiosity coupled with a pledge to continue serving Longmont the way the Times-Call has for ages.

That seems like an appropriate response. Evans is an experienced newspaperman, which bodes well for the Longmont Weekly's quality. But given the current economic realities, it's unlikely the Daily Camera/MediaNews will underwrite it indefinitely if profits prove elusive. And in the print-journalism biz as a whole, they have.