When thinking about a reference point to wrap this column around—I've been asked to write about "new beginnings"—places I've been, people I've met, projects I've started all came to mind to theme today's muse. But in my reverie is a particular song, John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over." It was released in the United States on Oct. 27, 1980, and according to songfacts.com, it's release coincided with the date Mark David Chapman purchased the gun that he would use to kill Lennon less than two months later. Life is such symmetry.
That's not what I have in mind for 2018, not to mention that the song, while full of generic New Year's themes like renewal and forward-thinking, is basically a paean to Yoko Ono. I like the song—but truth is, I was never a fan of Ono, neither her art or her music. I never really understood what Lennon saw in her, but it wasn't for me to question. They were in love. Besides, "(Just Like) Starting Over" was simply a self-doubting, symmetrical Lennon extension of his 1964 song "If I Fell." That was a great song.
But, songs won't cut it on this day, either. Fact is, I've never been very good at new beginnings of anything, let alone writing about them. It's an easier path to just keep morphing and moving forward than to start all over—same with any relationship. Lord knows I have a long, deep relationship with City Weekly, founding it over 30 years ago. It's morphed a dozen times, plus the people working and toiling here have come and gone, each leaving an indelible stamp on who and what we are. Each person shapes or corrects the next in good ways and bad.
For those past decades we've held in our minds—and hoped the larger expanse of readers and supporters felt similarly—that we are vitally important to this community. Yet, as nearly everyone knows, the fortunes of the print business have changed tremendously. We fairly escaped the turmoil that hit most newspapers a decade ago, but during the past three years, the turmoil hit us, too. A good number of our peers didn't survive and others might not—us included. Some papers have gone to online only, some to pay walls, some to just selling their assets and leaving their towns lurching.
These have been a rough, ass-kicking, debt-driven, three years—employees and friends coming and going, nervous nights, high-blood-pressure days—but through it emerged a new kind of positive energy in our building. In some cases, it's due to having new faces join us. In others, it's watching young people grow into their roles as the next line of dedicated visionaries. It's been more fun to watch that process than to be a part of it, though. Angels willing, we'll do more morphing.
We are now Copperfield Media. That name reflects the many facets that now comprise our company—newspapers, magazines, events (Utah Beer Fest, Ms. City Weekly) digital (Copperfield Digital Services, CDS), eCommerce (deals and tickets) and acquisitions (Planet Jackson Hole). For decades, all of our revenue came from City Weekly only. Soon, City Weekly will account for less than 50 percent of our revenue, and in a couple years more, less than 30.
The adage that man cannot live on bread alone is an apt metaphor for the newspaper industry of 2018. As luck would have it, we made those changes organically and intuitively with no path or guidance. As it turns out, media mavens are currently advocating that, to survive, papers need to adopt a strategy around local communities in the exact manner we have been doing on a gut call for three years. But newspaper revenues alone will not suffice.
Our first move came by accident nearly exactly three years ago. I was in St. Louis and picked up the alternative newspaper there, Riverfront Times, which scared me to death as it was razor thin, not the fat chunk that I'd known for years. In racks next to it was a magazine dedicated only to dining, called Feast, full of ads that once called the weekly home. That looked like the future, so a few months after coming home, our first issue of Devour Utah hit the shelves. Since then, it's grown from a quarterly to the state's finest and most attractive food magazine.
After that came Vamoose Utah (recreation) and Winners Utah (local sports). Both of those magazines will become bi-monthly in 2018. Thank you for your brilliant design eye Derek Carlisle, and thanks to Josh Schuerman and Vaughn Robison who take point on those publications' design. All three magazines fall under the expert supervision of the ever-positive Magazines Editor Jerre Wroble who is as dear a friend and City Weekly advocate as has ever been. We will introduce new magazine titles in 2018, starting soon with a new, glossy Best of Utah edition dedicated to the health and wellness industries.
As for City Weekly, Editor Enrique Limón (formerly with alternative newspapers in San Diego, Calif., and Santa Fe, N.M.) leads a consolidated staff of highly intelligent and dedicated new faces. His task, like that of newspaper editors everywhere, is to make more of everything with fewer resources. If anyone is up for it, the bold, energetic and creative, Enrique is. His only edit holdover from three years ago is the ever-able Scott Renshaw. Lots of changes here.
In 2018, we will continue to do what we've always done—poke holes, reveal truths, tell stories others haven't told, remove rascals and sully for those who cannot. It's really all we know how to do. We just keep changing and we're not starting over in 2018.
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