Had you asked me back in April 2008, if our recently launched newspaper would reach edition 60, I would have responded resoundingly with an optimistic “yes.” Along with co-founder, business partner and The City Paper’s General Manager, María Claudia Peña, we didn’t have a doubt as to what we were setting out to do. We knew that we were contributing to expanding media culture in Colombia by bringing out this country’s first free English-language newspaper.
We have come a long way since that cold April night when we stood in front of a GOSS printer waiting for the machine operators to fill ink wells and push the right buttons. In the long tradition that is newspapers, five years may just be a beginning.
Being patient and having perseverance is as important in what we do as is the writing, the picture taking, and the final layout of each and every page. In as much as it has been the most satisfying phase in our working lives, it is always a challenge to get the paper out every month given the commercial realities of being free. Free is the future of print and we saw this from the early days.
In an era when you can tap into any news source through tablets and mobile devices, to be able to print has also set us apart from so many. We are a 21st century business model, while media brokers still envision a 1980’s Wall Street “let’s be massive” one.
Despite having a population of educated readers, Colombian media is committed to television and radio. All newspapers hence are“niche” in themselves, because only those who can afford to buy a paper, actually read a paper. Then you have a sad reality when media shuns media.
As pioneers in free media, and in a language other than Spanish, some “prestigious” news entities deny the existence of a foreign language newspaper reaching a five year milestone. Bogotá has witnessed over the last couple of years, the arrival of other free papers on its streets. Like many capitals and large cities around the world, Bogotá was long overdue to have a democratic newspaper culture.
One of the big obstacles however, of running a free paper here is that it must still be placed directly in your hand in order for you to see it. Most free publications depend on a city’s mass transportation network to move. In Bogotá, it’s gridlock for commuters and paper culture.
I have learned a lot of the Colombian mindset during these five years with The City Paper. When we started out, we opened the possibility that many respected hotels and restaurants could offer their English-speaking clients a quality newspaper with stories unique to this country. We set out to portray Colombia in a very different light, publishing stories about the people here and their accomplishments.
We felt it was necessary, through our criteria and profound understanding of the country, to “bring out the best” of what we saw around us. During these last five years, we have written hundreds of stories about an amazing country and the many outstanding persons who have enriched – and will continue to do so – our cultural and scientific landscape. We are very proud that 60 amazing persons have graced The City Paper’s front page.
Among the many lessons learned, is that we are very much appreciated by the foreign community residing in and visiting Colombia. For this we are most grateful. With national distribution of our newspaper and a new website, which continues to grow, we can claim with pride that we are now the most comprehensive source for English language news in this country, putting content in print and online.
María Claudia and I would also like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to our advertisers who have supported us over the years. We are convinced that whether big or small, massive or niche, you will do well, because you have a corporate vision in this country, and for this country. I can say that with this issue, I am somewhat relieved that five years have come and gone. We can now look forward to the many chapters ahead in our newspaper’s exciting history.