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Yes, Virginia, there are new newspapers

Launching a newspaper is risky business these days. Ask the Salt Lake Tribune—it debuted the Buzz in February for young professionals to grab on their evening commute. It was a fun, quick read, but it couldn’t attract enough advertisers to last through the summer.

Yet, among the misses, there have been some hits for local news coverage.

Just last month, the Puerto Rico Daily Sun debuted, replacing the award-winning San Juan Star. That paper closed in August due to declining revenue and union disputes. The American territory has three major Spanish-language daily newspapers, but the new English-language Sun is able to print 15,000 copies each day.

The newspaper’s startup funding comes from two non-traditional sources. Each reporter was asked to buy at least $200 in shares in the new paper’s parent company, the United Press Cooperative. They had a little help, though. The country’s Department of Labor and Human Resources provided $1 million in launch money, thanks in part to a local law that encourages job creation.

When the owners of the Southwest Daily Times in Liberal, Kansas decided in May to cut production back to three days a week, editor Earl Watt decided to start his own paper. Eighteen of his former staffers went with him, and they started the High Plains Daily Leader to serve southwestern Kansas and the Oklahoma panhandle. The newspaper tweaked its front page a few times during the first few weeks, and the ads on the top of page 1 received mixed reviews. But success shows in circulation: the Daily Leader prints 7,000 copies—about two thousand more than the Daily Times.

You might call someone crazy to start a newspaper in this economy and non-friendly print environs, but entrepreneurs like Jim Pavelich are emulating the fiercely competitive newspaper publishers of yesteryear.

In the 1980s, Jim Pavelich made millions launching small- to medium- sized dailies in Colorado and Northern California, only to sell them later. Now that the non-compete agreements he signed during the sales have expired, he’s gone back to the same markets to start new daily newspapers.

Pavelich founded Colorado’s Vail Daily in 1981 and sold it in 1993. He then launched the Denver Daily News and the San Francisco Daily News. This year, he came back to Colorado in May to launch the Vail Mountaineer against the Vail Daily.

Around the same time this year, Pavelich co-founded the Palo Alto Daily Post in California to battle the Palo Alto Daily Times—another newspaper from his last generation of launches.

Oddly, Pavelich’s new papers don’t have Web sites.

–Lisa Rowan

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