As we bid goodbye to 2009 and set our sights not only on a new year but a new decade, I would like to share with you some of what has happened during the past year at Boulder's only independent newspaper, as well as what you can expect to see from us in the coming year.
The year 2009 will long be remembered for the economic challenges it brought to us. For many of us these challenges were unprecedented and, consequently, we struggled to find solutions.
For some the solutions did not arrive quickly enough and the results were business closures, lost jobs, and broken dreams. We at Boulder Weekly feel for those who have suffered these kinds of losses during the past year and wish them better fortunes as we hang a new calendar on the wall.
The story that unfolded at Boulder Weekly during 2009 should serve as a source of hope and inspiration as we continue to navigate our way through the calmer but still turbulent waters of the “Great Recession.” Having just experienced our two best years in terms of such metrics as page count, readership, editorial awards and a whopping 35% increase in advertising revenue, we had every reason to feel optimistic as the year began.
However, our expectations were decidedly dampened as it became clear that the national recession had finally arrived in Boulder.
Numerous customers were closing their doors, and others were barely hanging on.
Given that our operation relies exclusively on advertising revenue, there was a shadow of apprehension that threatened to eclipse those being cast by the Flatirons that dominate the view from our South Boulder offices.
Despite this ominous beginning, at the end of the year we had succeeded in outdoing ourselves and are happy to report that 2009 turned out to be a watershed year for the Newspaper of the Future™. While our competition downsized its staff, attempted to sell its building and became even more firmly controlled by mega-corporate ownership, Boulder Weekly spent our first full year in our newly purchased building, added two full-time positions and became more firmly committed than ever to our local community as Boulder’s only independent newspaper.
Perhaps our most proud accomplishment of 2009 was the launch of a new special edition, Boulderganic — Boulder’s homegrown resource for living green, supporting the local economy and building a sustainable future. Boulderganic was so successful that we immediately turned it into a tri-annual publication that you can expect to see in the spring, summer and fall of 2010, in print and online (Boulderganic.com).
We also launched a new, state-of-the-art website at BoulderWeekly.com that has enabled us to fulfill the vision I laid out in my early-2009 trilogy of columns, “Newspaper of the Future” (http://boulderweekly.com/archives/20090101/stewsviews.html), of becoming a media organization with a weekly print edition and a daily online edition. You can expect even more breaking news and fun features from BoulderWeekly.com during the coming year.
The year 2009 was also marked by the creation of the Boulder Weekly Garden Project. After purchasing the property we had occupied as a tenant for so many years, we decided to tear up the lawn on our large southwest-facing corner and put in a vegetable garden. We had quite a successful harvest and are planning an expansion for 2010.
Last but certainly not least, it pleases me to report that 2009 was a year of increased prosperity and readership for the Newspaper of the Future. The recession notwithstanding, our advertising revenue grew by almost 4% over 2008. That doesn’t sound like much, but in an economic climate where “flat is the new up” we were delighted to post our best year ever. In terms of readership, the independent Media Audit research to which we subscribe — as well as our meticulously maintained in-house circulation data — indicates that more of you are picking up the print edition of Boulder Weekly than ever before. And with respect to BoulderWeekly.com, our Google Analytics reports show that online readership more than doubled during the course of 2009.
As the Boulder Weekly staff gathered together at our first meeting of 2010, the question loomed large: how do we top that? Each staff member provided input ranging from increasing our involvement in community events to taking full advantage of the superior capabilities of the new press we will begin using this week (look for an all-color Boulder Weekly within the next few weeks!). We anticipate another year of significant challenges. But just as we did in 2009, Boulder’s only independent — and only growing — newspaper will meet those challenges in a way that honors our readers by putting your needs at the forefront of our ever-increasing list of priorities.
Thank you for your support, and please feel free to contact me personally with any input you may have to share.
Stewart Sallo – Publisher