The Colorado Sun, a pioneering for-profit/nonprofit hybrid, moves toward a fully nonprofit model

Nieman Lab: The Colorado Sun is going nonprofit. The five-year-old digital news organization, launched by journalists who’d left The Denver Post following round after round of cuts by the paper’s hedge-fund owner, Alden Global Capital, had operated as a rare for-profit exception in the universe of local news startups. Now the Sun is joining its tax-exempt peers.

“Whether I agree with it or not, whether I even like it or not, the reality is that many individuals, many institutions and philanthropic groups, have concluded that journalism should be nonprofit,” editor Larry Ryckman said in a phone interview on Monday. “I have my own thoughts on that, but that is reality.”

The move was not entirely unexpected. The Sun is one of the projects highlighted in a forthcoming book by Ellen Clegg and me, What Works in Community News: Media Startups, News Deserts, and the Future of the Fourth Estate, which will be published by Beacon Press in early 2024. When I interviewed Ryckman in the fall of 2021, he told me that a shift to nonprofit might be in the Sun’s future. The Sun has been operating as a public benefit corporation, or PBC, a legal designation covering for-profit organizations that serve society in some way. Among other things, a PBC is under no fiduciary obligation to enrich its owners and may instead plow revenues back into the enterprise.

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