King Soopers update: Readers support Indy petition 

click to enlarge A "Free Publications" rack inside King Soopers may soon be removed. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • A "Free Publications" rack inside King Soopers may soon be removed.
As of the Independent’s press time, more than 1,000 people had signed the petition at dontloselocalnews.com asking King Soopers to keep distributing Colorado Springs’ alternative weekly newspaper.

Regional and corporate representatives from Ohio-based The Kroger Co. — which owns King Soopers and City Market grocery stores, along with several other brands across the country — had not returned calls and emails asking for comment on the chain’s move to stop providing free publications at its stores, effective Oct. 1.

After our cover story detailing the issue last week, some readers asked why the Independent should expect King Soopers to distribute its papers for free.

Actually, the Indy pays a distribution company, DistribuTech, which in turn pays Kroger to keep free copies of the paper in 14 of its stores. Kroger’s move to terminate its national contract with DistribuTech means the paper will lose around 12 percent of its total circulation.

The Independent maintains 850 distribution locations in El Paso, Teller and Pueblo counties, but most locations have a much smaller customer base than Kroger’s grocery stores. That’s why we were willing to pay for the space, as were other alt-weeklies and free publications at Kroger’s stores around the country.

Meanwhile in Michigan, five state lawmakers and the mayor of Lansing sent a letter Sept. 20 to Kroger’s chairman and CEO urging him to rethink the decision, which booted the Lansing City Pulse alt-weekly out of Kroger stores. Lansing City Council passed a similar resolution earlier this month.

On Sept. 23, the national journal Editor & Publisher ran a story highlighting the conflict. At least 21 of the 99 members of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (including the Independent) use Kroger stores as distribution sites, E&P reports.

Additional coverage on the Independent’s campaign came from Washington’s Raw Story and Corey Hutchins of the Colorado Independent.

“Colorado Springs is the second largest city in Colorado, after Denver,” Raw Story reported Sept. 16. “It’s the fastest growing city for Millennials, according to the Brookings Institute.

“The Colorado Springs Gazette, the local daily, is owned by Clarity Media Group. CMG is a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation, headed by Philip Anschutz, a multi-billionaire friendly with the Kochs.”

The article continues: “[Founder and chair] John Weiss ... thinks his city deserves better than a single paper owned by a right-wing billionaire,” explaining the Independent’s efforts to have customers mobilize to get the papers back in King Soopers.

Hutchins, a Columbia Journalism Review contributor and journalism instructor at Colorado College, wrote that he spotted a man in a local King Soopers “standing by the newspaper rack and reading the Indy’s piece about the paper being kicked out.” The man called the story “outrageous.” (See p. 16 for a complaint form to take to your own local King Soopers store.)

Hutchins said a manager told him “plenty of customers had mentioned the issue to him, and that he’d kicked their message up to corporate.”

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