Had to take a trip to my hometown of Grand Junction on a family matter this past weekend, and while there, I happened upon a copy of the Grand Junction Free Press, a no-charge publication that's taken a dent out of the town's main newspaper, the Daily Sentinel, since its 2003 debut via energetic reporting and a five-day-a-week publishing schedule. Unfortunately, though, " Free Press Announces Changes," a story on page one of that particular issue, revealed that its print version would be turning up in area news racks 40 percent less often beginning this week. Although its website will still be updated daily, physical editions will now appear on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only -- a decision described in a separate column by publisher Valerie J. Smith as an attempt at "getting on solid ground." No doubt the Sentinel has the same goals. The Western Slope staple, which I used to deliver in my youth, has been on the block since August 2008, as noted in the blog linked here -- and thus far, its owner, Cox Newspapers, has found no takers.
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On the surface, Grand Junction seems like the perfect newspaper market -- a community with an older-than-average citizenry due to its popularity with retirees from all over the country, as well as an economy that's been boosted of late by energy development (although word that Suncor/Lignol has just pulled the plug on a proposed ethanol plant can't be considered a positive harbinger). Nevertheless, both of GJ's newspapers are struggling for survival in these print-unfriendly times.