EDITOR’S DESK: The real name is ‘Inc.’
This column will be on the long side today. I'm going to start by offering up a little history. There's a reason, as you'll see farther down (assuming the verbiage between
here and there keeps your interest).
Five and a half years ago, the Westside was a news orphan. It was generally too small for the citywide publications to bother with - except when sad or bizarre things happened - and too poor for the region's community-type papers, whose owners preferred the higher levels of disposable income in places such as Manitou, Cheyenne/Broadmoor and Rockrimmon.
That was where/when the Westside Pioneer came in. We didn't care about the size of the Westside, and we never did a marketing study on income levels. My wife Therese and I just believed it was time that the place where we'd lived for some 20 years and raised two children had a newspaper of its own. Also, as we pledged in our first issue, Jan. 5, 2004 (and still pledge to this day), "We'll cover news the old-fashioned way - empty of bias and hopefully full of usable information."
What astounded us - still does, really - was the reception we received for our free, little "mom and pop" newspaper. We had hoped that folks in the schools, neighborhoods, businesses, volunteer organizations and government offices would like it that their work over here was finally being reported, but we had no idea of the level of appreciation, even gratitude, that would come our way. At a time when the media is roundly distrusted and newspapers are failing right and left, Westsiders regularly tell us they value what we do; meanwhile, our circulation has risen from the 3,000 when we started five years ago to 4,700 today.
I'll admit one thing, though: The dollar side of the equation has never been a slam dunk. The great majority of the businesses on the Westside are small, privately owned and living on the edge, and we've seen a few dozen of them fail just since '04. It's never easy for people in such circumstances to feel as if they can advertise willy-nilly. So we've kept our advertising rates as low as possible, looking for imaginative ways to make it affordable for those folks - who really are our neighbors - to get their messages out to would-be customers.
In summation, over the past 5 ½ years, we have published the first-ever weekly newspaper solely for the Westside... and people seem to have enjoyed it.
Unfortunately - and here at last is the promised "reason" for this column - you will soon be seeing another free paper on the Westside. Not that we mind the competition. That comes with the territory in any business. It's just that this competitor is the Gazette. Started by Colorado Springs founder William Palmer in 1871, now it is part of a corporate media chain, run by deceivers and greed-mongers. They reduced the size of their daily newspaper a few months ago, telling everyone it was an unfortunate sacrifice in hard economic times and that it's tough on newspapers everywhere. Then last week, they decided (ha ha) they weren't so poor after all, announcing a start-up newspaper that's to begin May 6. Called Ink, (a more appropriate name would be "Inc."), it's to appear four days a week, 10,000 copies per time, and theoretically cover our area, the downtown and Manitou. (As a side note, I'd be irate if I were a subscriber in another part of town. Not only did the Gazette bosses offer no subscriber discounts or refunds when they made the daily smaller, but apparently any "savings" are now being invested in about 5 percent of the geographical area the daily ostensibly covers.)
And what kind of a publication will Ink be? Interestingly, the article announcing the start-up says nothing about serving the community better. In that article, the daily's editor dismisses the news content as "a 10-minute publication people can read while they're having a bagel," and its publisher frets over how the Gazette advertising is "too expensive for small, local businesses" so the new paper "is a way to scale things down to reach those potential advertisers."
And where will it find these advertisers? Hmm, you don't suppose they'll try to steal them from us, do you?
Note too the envisioned publishing schedule - Wednesday through Saturday. That seems like a weird concentration until you realize that Thursday is when we publish (as well as most other weeklies that touch our area), so this is clearly a plan to sandwich the new paper around those days.
Folks, you obviously are free to read whatever you want. For our part, we will continue trying to make the Pioneer an enjoyable publication with information about Westside people, events and changes. All we ask is that, if you are trying to decide between us and them, you keep in mind what you've read in this column today - recognizing that it all comes down to the newspaper put out by people who live here and care about their part of town vs. the newspaper put out by a corporation just looking to fatten its profits. In other words, good guys vs. bad guys. OK, that's probably an oversimplification. No, actually, it isn't.