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Against all common sense and good advice, we started a newspaper in a pandemic. Here’s why.
Those of us who know this amazing city know its allure. Our city is full of amazing stories and important narratives that can be told nowhere else on earth. But those stories are not alive if no one tells them.
Older journalists like to reminisce about the days not long ago when Albuquerque was a two-paper town. In fact, it had three. The morning Albuquerque Journal and afternoon Albuquerque Tribune created healthy competition and, importantly, competing editorial pages to help bring context and understanding to local news.
And then there was the Weekly Alibi. For 28 years it was the paper of record for anything and everything cool, edgy or alternative in ’Burque. It also added to our understanding of news by going deep with artists, activists and aspiring politicians whose voices could not get heard elsewhere.
Sadly, our city has lost two of those three voices. The Paper. is our response.
The state of our democracy is more perilous than at any point in my lifetime. At least at the local level, we were once immune from the partisan gamesmanship and big money PR campaigns disguising as news. No more. As a city councilor, my email and social media pages are peppered with local conspiracy theories and halfwit analysis—often from those who should know better—parroting tactics of division and disinformation we see across the country.
Thankfully, I also hear from hundreds of Burquenos who know better. Instead of exploiting cultural divides, they want to understand the experience from the other side and help to shape the conversation and our future. To do that, they want the kind of in-depth, thoughtful journalism and analysis that news outlets operating in the daily 24/7 cycle can’t provide.
That is why, when I set out to build a new voice for our city I started by inviting a few of the most experienced, trusted journalists I know.
And as a queer-owned, woman-managed paper, ensuring that The Paper. includes the voices others often miss is a top priority. To that end, I hope you’ll find some of the new voices you’ll meet in the coming weeks as inspiring and thoughtful as I do.
For those worried about a politician owning a newspaper, I ask you to judge us by our product. This isn’t my first foray into journalism. In 2015 I started publishing the New Mexico Political Report, growing it to one of the state’s most-read online news sources for political news. Now, like then, I require our journalists and our newsroom to be members of professional news organizations with their own codes of ethics that ensure they write about the news—not me.
And if you think we’re blurring the line, tell us. Our opinion page is open and waiting.
Finally, we’re all in on Albuquerque. The advertisers you see here and online at abq.news are local, too. In the middle of one of our toughest economic times, they dug deep to support local news and a stronger community connection. Please support us by supporting them.
The Paper. is not mine or Abby’s. It belongs to our city. It’s also not cheap. Our weekly paper will remain free across the city. And our new online version at abq.news is full of local arts, culture, film, food and news every local reader needs. But as we grow, we are experimenting with new subscription models to meet every reader’s needs, including premium online content.
Whether you think this new venture is quixotic or not, you can help by buying a subscription and helping us decide what columns, issues and options come next. Go online at abq.news to join today.