Denver Alternative Folds

Six-Month-Old Sol-Day News Forsakes the Printed Word For the Internet.

The Sol-Day News stormed onto the Denver alternative newspaper scene in May like a battling Hun. Backers of the 50,000-circulation weekly — which was distributed on Sundays — pledged low advertising rates and an ambitious editorial agenda. Moreover, they embraced the cutthroat competition they would face from AAN-member Westword and other local publications like The Onion.

By the end of September, they had packed up shop without even so much as a whimper. Calls last week to Sol-Day’s headquarters were received by an answering machine relaying the news that the paper had ceased publication. The message also said Sol-Day was moving to Los Angeles, where it would reappear as an Internet news source.

So how does a confident start-up in the spring come crashing to earth before the leaves change color?

“We’re not rich people,” explains Curtis Robinson, one of Sol-Day’s eight owners. “We kind of got to the point where we felt it no longer made sense to keep publishing the paper. We closed the print version of Sol-Day because we thought it was time to pass it onto its next life on the Internet — a Salon-modeled type of publication …

“Given how much cheaper it will be to produce [the publication] online –we figure it will save us $8,000 to $9,000 per week in production and distribution costs alone. We calculated that by converting Sol-Day from a print publication to an online one, we can operate it for a year on what it would have cost us [producing the printed version] for a quarter.”

Robinson wouldn’t disclose how much money the paper lost during its six-month existence. However, he is confident that the online Sol-Day, which could debut as early as mid-November, will be a cutting edge publication that will entice advertisers.

“The idea behind Sol-Day is to have it eventually be a national alternative presence on the Internet, with national alternative news and with local affiliates across the country covering local news,” says Robinson. “We really believe the future for this paper — like other alternatives — is on the Internet and that’s the reason behind the move.”

Robinson’s explanations aside, Alternative Weekly Network Executive Director Mark Hanzlik thinks Sol-Day’s print-to-electronic-media-metamorphosis can be explained in one word: economics.

“To me,” says Hanzlik, “it sounds like a bunch of guys who didn’t have the capital to make their print venture work, so they found a less expensive way to do it.”