Since 1988, the Colorado Springs Business Journal has given the Pikes Peak region its own business newspaper, operated for the first 10 years by its local founders, then since 1998 as part of the Dolan Co.'s national network of publications.
Now the Business Journal is going back to its roots.
Owners of the area's largest locally owned media company, which includes the Colorado Springs Independent, signed an agreement Monday to buy the Business Journal, effective June 1. The acquisition includes another Dolan-owned local entity, The Transcript, a tri-weekly, public-record newspaper featuring legal notices.
The new owners also will apply to service Dolan's contract publishing of three local military newspapers: the Fort Carson Mountaineer, Peterson (Air Force Base) Space Observer and Schriever (AFB) Sentinel. More than 68,000 local adults read these publications regularly in print, according to the latest Media Audit numbers for the local market, and thousands more online.
"Business is the most powerful institution shaping our city," says John Weiss, publisher of the Independent and majority owner of the purchasing group. "Businesses, especially locally controlled organizations, provide most of our jobs, create most of our wealth, and shape our community's environment. We aim to publish a great business newspaper and website that will improve our community by providing timely, vibrant local information to business owners and employees, nonprofit executives and civic leaders who need to know what is really going on."
During the transition from national to local control, Independent executive editor Ralph Routon and CEO Fran Zankowski will divide their time between both organizations. Former City Councilor John Hazlehurst will write for both the CSBJ and the Indy. He spent five years (2006 to 2011) exclusively at the Business Journal between stints as an Independent columnist. Routon will also continue his Between the Lines and End Zone columns in the Indy.
But that doesn't mean the two newspapers will be merging their content.
"We will keep the Independent and the new publishing group physically, spiritually and legally separate," Routon says. That includes maintaining the two newspapers' offices, with the Independent still operating at 235 S. Nevada Ave., and the CSBJ at 31 E. Platte Ave.
Zankowski and Routon will direct the CSBJ during the transition, while the Indy's general manager Carrie Simison-Bitz and managing editor Kirk Woundy assume more responsibilities at the Independent.
"The current staff at CSBJ and the military papers is rock-solid," says Zankowski, a longtime newspaper executive who has been at the Independent since 2005 and is also co-owner of the purchasing company, known as the Publishing Corp. of Colorado Springs. "In the coming months and years we anticipate growing the current 20-person staff to publish even stronger print and online offerings."
"We are psyched," adds Weiss, a 1978 Colorado College graduate who co-founded the Independent 19 years ago. "Six months from now the CSBJ will be even more of a must-read."
In a Business Journal online story, Dolan Co. president James P. Dolan said, "When John Weiss called to inquire whether the Business Journal could be acquired, at first we said no, but we thought about it and decided that CSBJ deserved a more attentive owner, possibly somebody local."