‘This is how it feels to save a newspaper’

Rocky Mountain PBS: One week after firing almost his entire staff Sixty35 Media, executive editor Bryan Grossman published a newspaper with blank pages. It had never been done before — not during the paper’s short-lived stint as Sixty35, and not during its previous 30 years as the Colorado Springs Independent or any associated publication. But in this particular issue, when readers flipped open the News and Arts & Entertainment sections, empty columns stared back.

“We didn’t have a staff,” Grossman said, noting that the blank pages were as much a statement as they were inevitable. “We wanted to be skinny. We wanted to be sad.”

Two weeks prior, the board of directors at Citizen-Powered Media — the nonprofit entity behind Sixty35 Media — had discovered $300,000 in unaccounted-for debt. At the same time, they found more than $280,000 in uncollected payments owed to them by advertisers. The organization made immediate cuts to survive. On March 15, 2023, Grossman fired the paper’s photographer, cartoonist, critics, columnists and all but one reporter.

“I, personally, in this office, laid off seven people. One right after another,” Grossman said. “We had one paycheck per person left when we did those layoffs — one paycheck left in the bank.” 

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