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Colorado Sun partnership buys 24 local papers

Colorado Sun partnership buys 24 local papers
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The Colorado Sun has bought 24 local newspapers in Colorado with the help of The National Trust for Local News, in a deal meant to prevent the papers from being acquired by hedge funds, the Sun and the Trust announced Monday.

The papers, most of which are published weekly, will be owned by The Colorado News Conservancy, a new corporation created by the Sun and the Trust. As part of the deal, the individual news publications and websites will continue to be managed by local staff.

All the outlets in the deal belonged to Colorado Community Media, a newspaper chain owned by Jerry and Ann Healey. Several of its titles have been in existence for more than a century.

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The deal is meant to be a model of a “viable and replicable alternative to national consolidation of local news outlets by private equity or hedge funds,” the announcement stated.

The loan financing the deal was provided by the nonprofit lender FJC Foundation of Philanthropic Funds and guaranteed by The Gates Family Foundation, the Colorado Trust and the American Journalism Project, said the CEO of the National Trust, Elizabeth Shapiro.

The Colorado Sun was started by journalists who had worked for The Denver Post but left after the paper was bought by the hedge fund Digital First Media and the new owners began laying off staff.

Opposition to hedge fund media ownership also motivated the proposed acquisition of The Baltimore Sun by the Sunlight for All Institute. That nonprofit was created specifically by hotelier Stewart Bainum to prevent the Sun, currently owned by Tribune Publishing, from being acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

After that deal collapsed, Bainum and Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss made an offer to buy all of Tribune to prevent Alden from controlling its 20 newspapers including The Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and South Florida's Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel as part of the deal.

That bid fell apart after Wyss pulled out. However, as of last week, Bainum announced he was still attempting to put together another proposal for Tribune, according to The New York Times.