Editorial: The demise of a newspaper

Last week, we at The Independent got confirmation of what we had been hearing whispered for weeks—that our competitor newspaper, the Mountain View Telegraph, is closing its doors for good and ceasing publication.

And like many of you, we mourn its passing.

Our community was stronger with two newspapers, and having a competitor around helped keep us sharper; I’m sure the reverse was also true.

I’ve spent the past several years on the board of the New Mexico Press Association, and this year I’m serving as first vice president. In that role, I am a champion for all New Mexico newspapers—and I know the struggle that many of us are facing. I’m sad to see any newspaper go under.

Now the challenge in front of the skeleton crew of The Independent—which is comprised partly of volunteers—will be stretching ourselves enough to step into the gap left behind by the Telegraph’s demise. It won’t be easy, but we believe we are up to the job.

Over the years, I had estimated the budget of our competitor, which was owned by Number Nine Media, itself owned by the Albuquerque Journal, at four to five times what we’ve had to work with at The Independent. We are still around in spite of the financial hardships of the past few years because of my stubborn determination to stay afloat, because journalism matters.

It matters that we celebrate the achievements of our young people; it matters that we tell you what our town and county governments are doing; it matters that we sponsor groups from the literacy program to Wildlife West; it matters that you have a public forum in our letters section; it matters that we constantly advocate for the business community. It matters.

We believe The Independent is still thriving because of our passion and heart, and our close connection to the community.

The Independent was founded 19 years ago by Wally Gordon, and in 2010, an employee buyout meant the newspaper changed hands.

At some point, all of my kids, and both of my grandsons, have pitched in to help keep us in operation. This past week, for example, my eldest daughter, who is my office manager in this family business, spent 29 hours between Tuesday (our deadline day) and Wednesday (delivery day) in which she worked 20 of those hours.

So we’re here to stay, but that doesn’t mean the road ahead is easy.

And big changes are coming soon for The Independent.

First off, starting with our first issue in July, we’ll be shifting to a Friday publication date, with our crunch night happening Thursday night instead of Tuesday. We think this will make things easier for us, for our advertisers, and for our readers. It will mean our deadline for submissions and advertising moves two days later in the week.

We are actively searching for a sales assistant, starting part-time, and with the intention of training a few people to be full-time ad sales representatives. We are looking for people as passionate about our mission to provide quality journalism to the community as we are.

We’re looking for submissions from writers and photographers. Within the next three to six months our goal is to be able to hire additional reporting staff.

We are changing the hours our office is open to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and the office will continue to be closed on the weekends.

We will be transitioning to a digital-first schedule, with the weekly newspaper serving as a digest of the week’s events, and with a focus on weekend events in each issue.

We’ll continue with our great sports coverage by Ger Demarest, with longstanding features like Old Timers (look for a special publication in July in time for Old Timers Day in Estancia), and with new features like I’m Losing It!, Faith Talks, Cook Like A Pro!, the Community News Exchange, the Fire Beat (updated daily at edgewood.news/fire-beat during the height of the fire season), and others.

Our aim is for The Independent to be first on people’s minds when you want to share good news with the community, and we’re exploring a regular “good news” column. Ideas and submissions are welcome.

Finally, if you want to get in touch with us at the newspaper after hours—because we do take days off—my cell phone number is 505-702-1033 and my email is Leota@Lobo.net.

Running a newspaper is not for the faint-hearted. The pace is brutal and never lets up. News happens every day of the week. We take our responsibility to the community and to the fabric of democracy very seriously, and we plan to keep The Independent vibrant—like the communities we serve. It matters.