Sad news out of Denver: The Rocky Mountain Independent is no more.
The indie news site is currently refunding money to the 200 subscribers who agreed to pay $24 a year for access to RMI’s exclusive content, and no new content will be posted to the site.
The site was founded by a group of INDenverTimes vets, which, in turn, was founded earlier this year by a group of Rocky Mountain News journalists who wanted to create a news site after Scripps closed the struggling paper.
Got all that?
As the dedicated, incredibly-hard-working laid-off RMN folks went through these iterations of online-only news sites, it appears that attrition took its toll: after INDenverTimes fell 47,000 subscribers short of its 50,000-subscriber goal, the company’s financial backers pulled out (and kept the domain name for themselves; they’re still running a Denver-centric news site with a mix of aggregated and original content).
Now, turns out the problem was (in part) that most of the thirty ex-Rocky staffers part of the original IDT venture…found other jobs.
“We expected that if we did this, people would continue to look for jobs,” Steve Foster, RMI’s editor, told Westword, “and fortunately, a lot of them found one. That left about four or five of us who’ve been actively engaged in the website the entire three months we were going, and that wasn’t enough to produce the content we needed.”
This was supposed to be a sure thing: in May, Foster said that “We will have enough money to launch one way or another. It’s not a go or no-go based on whether we get enough members. We will go.” And in July, the site’s focus on all-original content was locked in and the staffers seemed pumped: “Anybody can aggregate news. But if you want to be noteworthy, have an original site, you have to produce original content that people want.” Foster again.
This is a blow to everyone trying to make local online-only news sites work. On the other hand, as Edison said: “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”