After last week's item about Denver Magazine shutting down, with its key assets purchased by rival 5280, the comments section exploded, with numerous posters accusing Michael Ledwitz, the defunct mag's CEO, publisher and editor, of ripping off advertisers. It's a charge that offends Ledwitz, who not only denies stiffing anyone but encourages us to publish his phone number (303-952-0060) so that anyone with gripes can call him directly.
Ledwitz can only speculate about the identity of his online critics, but he believes "most of those things are coming from ex-employees of the magazine who were either fired for stealing or things like that. Because I've never done anything wrong to anybody. I challenge any advertiser to step up, instead of posting anonymously, and say, 'I'm an advertiser and I've been screwed by Denver Magazine.' Because no advertisers were harmed at all."
Indeed, Ledwitz maintains that every advertiser has been made "100 percent whole," as have all the writers and contributors to the publication. That leaves only subscribers still owed copies of the magazine. "We're looking at how to take care of them," he says, "and we're getting pretty close to it. We're talking about subscriptions that are $6, $12, $15 in some cases, so it's not anyone's life savings. But I understand, and we're working on making it right."
How many subscribers did Denver Magazine have? Ledwitz prefers to keep that figure to himself.
What about charities like the Young Philanthropists Foundation, which was selling tickets for its big annual fundraiser through the Denver Magazine website when it went dark? Last Thursday, YPF executive director Alexis Boian said Ledwitz had promised to provide her organization with all of the money and information about ticket buyers collected prior to the shutdown, and he's done so, he notes. He adds that YPF was the only charity to be in such a situation.
When asked if Denver Magazine folded because of a tough economy and the challenges faced by print publications these days, he defers. "I really can't comment on it too much," he allows, "but you're making the assumption the magazine couldn't make it, and that's just an assumption."
Then was the closure a result of an investor pulling out, as has been rumored? "That's not true," he stresses.
So why did the magazine close? In his words, "Business is business, and that's all I can say."
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What's next for Ledwitz? Would he consider launching another media project in Denver?
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"Time will tell," says Ledwitz, who had previously worked as a publisher in Miami. "The reality is, I can stay here. I have plenty of friends. But we have opportunities all over the place -- some on the East Coast, some here in Denver. So we'll see. Right now, I'm taking a moment to kick back and relax."
He adds that "in life, all you have is your reputation, and mine's always been stellar, and I totally plan on keeping it that way. That's why everyone's been paid. No one's been left out in the cold, and I'm out there, answering questions for anyone who asks. I'm not sneaking away in the middle of the night and screwing everybody in Denver."
More from our Media archive: "Denver Magazine's Michael Ledwitz is a model publisher."