“The printing press doesn’t like women,” lamented the operator as every bolt of the Goss Community rejected the paper feed for the launch of our first edition of The City Paper. General Manager María Claudia Peña was hardly amused at the innocuous comment and that implicated the machine in a jealousy contest. Passing midnight with frayed nerves we remained calm in the face of newsprint adversity. At some godforsaken hour on April 9th 2008, we finally rolled of the press with the first free, English-language newspaper for Colombia. Eight years and one solstice later, we mark our 100th issue, a moment to celebrate and reflect on all that has passed.
I knew we would get here, eventually.
What I never imagined was our impact with fundamental questions about where we live and the perception readers can now have of Colombia, both at home and overseas. We make English accessible to anyone who comes across The City Paper. After more than one million newspapers placed strategically in restaurants, hotels, museums, embassies and so many other venues across Colombia, The City Paper has established itself as a reliable source for great articles, grounded in a strong editorial vision with stunning photography from our team of collaborators. We have also been very fortunate to count on the unwavering support of many top-name advertisers.
We’ve met our share of characters along the way, all with amazing stories, some making it to front page. We remember four who are no longer with us: photographers Manuel H. Rodríguez and Nereo López, artist Ana Mercedes Hoyos, and Colombia’s first female commercial pilot Angelika Hellberger.
Everyone we have interviewed has contributed to make Colombia a better place, whether pioneering a cure to Alzheimer’s or hauling books on a donkey to remote rural villages so children can read. We’ve sat through a horrific story of the Holocaust by an Auschwitz survivor and watched women in the township of Mampuján, Bolívar, quilt the story of the infamous massacre. We talked with trendsetters in design, architecture, and urbanism. From the printed page to the canvas and stage, we’ve been moved by so much homegrown talent.
And we’ve crossed much terrain, many of our writers venturing out to discover a country they now call home. From street food to town festivals, The City Paper has left a trail of words and images of a country steeped in diversity and folklore.
Small-town Boyacá may be a world away from the Amazon, hamlets scattered across La Guajira and sprawling Bogotá, but in this newspaper you’ll find them all together in 24 pages spun from a tree raised in Canada.
As we’ve grown, so too has the acceptance of English as a necessary tool for educating the future of Colombia’s youth. To meet the demand of a digitally savvy, always-connected generation, we developed an important online presence that is constantly attracting new readers.
We work hard to generate original content for print and web, trying not to fall prey to the tyranny of the typo. And with 125,000 readers of the newspaper every month, we receive our share of constructive commentary or observations. But there is always another edition in the works, looming behind us and ready to hit the streets. Often I am asked, if I would repeat this experience. “Of course”. Do I regret it? “Never.”
Having chosen a profession that entails covering more “bad” than “good,” we decided to challenge this mindset, turning our attention to the humanitarians, social entrepreneurs, and invisible heroes among us, who everyday make a difference in our lives. While some have received recognition, others continue to work in the shadows of the headlines. The country is now at an historic crossroads, and many questions will emerge on which way we should turn to face a more prosperous and fairer future. We say: forward, for Colombia will always be that great adventure.
Thank you for helping us reach 100!