Ambitious plans & new faces for The Independent in 2019

Founded in 1999, this year marks the 20thyear of publication for The Independent newspaper—and to celebrate, we’ll be rolling out new features and offerings all year long.

Starting late last year, we added a crossword puzzle, sudoku puzzle, and a coloring comic drawn by local artist Bill Campos.

Campos has lived in Edgewood since 1981, and has been an artist his whole life. He loves outdoor activities like rock climbing with his family and is currently logistics lead for the Albuquerque Metro Relay for Life with the American Cancer Society.

Along with those coloring comics are a monthly contest for kids and adults, with prizes for the best work.

We have also added an editorial cartoon weekly by syndicated cartoonist Joe Heller, to bring a bit of humor and color to our opinion forum.

The Independent is pleased to announce the addition of two reporters, Thomas Campbell and Circe Olson Woessner.

Campbell has a varied background and is stepping into the local government beat, covering town councils and county commissions around the East Mountains and Estancia Valley.

Thomas Campbell

Campbell has spent the past 50 years as a photographer, and will lend his eye and photographs to our pages as well.

Woessner is recently retired from the Veterans Administration, and will be covering veterans’ issues for The Independent, writing both news and feature stories, along with a bi-weekly column, “Charlie Oscar Whiskey: Thoughts from the Homefront.”

Circe Olson Woessner

She founded and runs the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center, located next door to Molly’s in Tijeras.

We will continue to feature photos by Diana Cervantes, a bilingual independent journalist. Recently graduated from the University of New Mexico, Cervantes is passionate about telling stories of migration and culture. Her work has appeared in publications around New Mexico and one of her images was selected for National Geographic’s Best of Your Shot images for 2018—selected from over 1.2 million images and featured alongside 70 other photographers.

Diana Cervantes

Ger Demarest will continue to cover local sports teams with care and attention to detail with a new job title: Sports Editor. The new title simply describes what his role has been at The Independent for some time now. Demarest rises to the challenge of covering several school districts—sometimes with conflicting schedules—every week. His long history with the newspaper and knowledge of both sports and local teams make his stories one of the most-read sections in the newspaper.

The Independent’s office manager, Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi, will continue to write our Biz Buzz business features, as well as a brand-new travel feature, “Close to Home,” which premieres this week.

Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi
and Dustin Barton

In this travel feature, she will take a budget of $50, which can be used for travel, food, admission, or other expenses for day trips from the East Mountains around New Mexico. She will be aided in this feature by Dustin Ryley Barton, The Independent’s “reporter in training,” and grandson of its editor—both are part of the next generations of this family business.

The pair will search out the most interesting and family-friendly attractions they can find close to home, and bring them to life for our readers.

Another new face at the newspaper is a familiar one, as Alexandra Roberts returns as Promotions and Marketing Consultant.

Alexandra Roberts

Roberts has deep roots in the East Mountains, and her first new project will be one she helped establish at The Independent: the 20thanniversary edition of Women in Business, which will be published in March profiling local female entrepreneurs.

She recently completed a short-term job as personal assistant to “Interview With the Vampire” author Anne Rice. She also worked as an extra in films Wild Hogs and Swing Shift, with ties to the film community as well. She brings a wealth of knowledge about marketing, journalism and design to The Independent’s sales team.

We will continue to run Mountain Musing, a column with a decades-long history in the East Mountains, written by The Independent’s founder, Wally Gordon. Gordon and his wife Thelma Bowles recently spent two months in Africa, and his column is back this week, with the first installment of those stories, and featuring her photos.

Our bookkeeper, Debbie Ohler, will continue to work behind the scenes on our accounts, where her long history with the newspaper means she is the go-to person with questions from advertisers.

Starting in July, we will run a weekly feature pulling stories from our archives—20 years ago, 10 years ago, and 5 years ago. We think this will be a fun way to see what has changed, or not, in the area in 20 years.

We plan a feature called “Meet Your Neighbors,” which will be a short questionnaire for local elected officials, people in leadership positions like law enforcement, pastors, teachers and others. Our aim is to bring the community together by getting to know each other—by putting a face to the name you may have read in our pages.

We plan to bring Faith Talks, a local sponsored message from church and spiritual leaders in the area, back on a regular basis.

The Independent will be launching Biz Buzz Marketing Services in April, with expanded offerings for small businesses, running the gamut from logo design to social media management to press releases. Stay tuned for details as we work the kinks out—and if you are a business who might be interested in this service, we are looking for a few guinea pigs to help with that process.

Bill Campos

The Independent is also branching into production of other publications, starting with a few coloring book projects in collaboration with artist Bill Campos.

We created a gallery wall in our new office space at 95 State Road 344 in Edgewood, with a quarterly art show hosted by the Route 66 Arts Alliance.

Our IndependArt gallery offers works by local artists, for sale to the public. Our next opening reception is Jan. 12 at 2 p.m., and will feature food and music, and an opportunity to meet artists whose work is featured.

We plan to bring Face to Face back to our pages, an informal survey of area residents about local issues.

We will continue with our Fire Beat coverage, which starts when the fire danger starts to escalate in the spring, and typically continues until the monsoons hit; we will continue to have a dedicated page on our website updated daily during the highest-risk times by Tom Stuart, and updated weekly when risk begins to subside.

We plan to launch a Membership Program, which will allow the newspaper to diversify revenue sources away from near-total dependence on advertising sales, and to give area residents who feel a community is stronger with a local newspaper a way to support us directly. Look for some nifty premiums like bumper stickers and hats—along with a monthly “Meet the Editor” gathering.

Leota Harriman

We are making our office space available to small groups who need a place to meet for free. Contact us for details on how your group can meet here.

We are planning more business profiles, and will be working in conjunction with other publications in the area to promote the business community.

We’re working on an overhaul of our website, to make it easier to navigate and to add features like a payment portal. We will also implement a schedule for online publication, to make our online offerings more predictable.

In short, The Independent’s 20thyear of publication will be filled with celebration, experimentation and ongoing dedication to our core mission—quality, old-fashioned journalism, which we believe is critical to an informed citizenry and to our democracy itself.

Lastly, we are always open to suggestions. Is there a feature you would like to see in our pages or on our website? Contact me at news.ind.editor@gmail.comwith your ideas for how The Independent can better serve the community.