Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Four years on and it’s time for a change at Mexico News Daily

Four years on and we’re still plugging away here but having fun, too. In fact, publishing a newspaper — for me — has never been so much fun.

It’s a great job and a great business, particularly if you can show a profit at the end of the year.

Which we are not.

Mexico News Daily was born in June 2014 in the spare bedroom of a house in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. I had a computer, an internet connection and enough knowledge of WordPress to be able to throw together a site (it was, admittedly, a bit of a mess behind the scenes) and launch.

I had read somewhere there were 1 million expats from the United States living in Mexico.

Back in the days when I published a weekly community newspaper, 90% of adults in our community were readers.

So, my thinking went, if I can get 10% of those expats to read a newspaper with Mexican news in English we should do all right; 90% would be fantastic but unlikely.

Well, we attracted rather more than 100,000 readers — we had 400,000 in May — but I was naïve. Those numbers are nothing in digital publishing. They are not enough to generate the advertising revenues we need to be in the black. It was time for a change.

I decided well over a year ago that I would do two things in the next six months: redesign the site and initiate a metered paywall.

In the end it took some 18 months to reach the stage where we are today, and now comes the moment of reckoning: now that we’ve built this thing will they come — and pay to do so?

I say we’ve built this thing but in fact we haven’t finished the building: we need revenue to do that.

There are three of us here at Mexico News Daily and we ought to be at least six. That’s three more writers.

With additional editorial staff we can finally do what I really want: publish original content that will give us desperately needed balance in coverage.

Our email newsletter, Mexico News Today, has long been a reliable bellwether for indicating reader satisfaction. Although subscriber numbers have increased on average by more than 100 a week (to nearly 25,000 now), we have also lost a few — at least 3,000.

Many of those bailed after particularly gruesome, violence-filled issues. We know because many said so when invited to tell us why they were leaving.

Under our current business plan, we curate news from (mostly) Mexican sources. If those newspapers have days where there is little more than cartel murder stories, so do we.

Now it’s time to change that and do what we should be doing: informing our readers with coverage of Mexico news — however bad it might be — but entertaining them too with stories about Mexico. The good stories about the people and the culture that reflect the reasons why so many expats — this one included — live here and love it.

If all goes well, which is not likely considering the near-daily outages of either our phone, internet, electricity or all three, our new subscription service will take effect on Tuesday. Readers will be able to access up to 10 stories in a 30-day period, after which they will be asked to subscribe.

I invite you to stay with us for this next stage. These are interesting times in Mexico and we look forward to covering them, with a new and special emphasis on all the positive stories there are to tell.

—Tony Richards, Editor & Publisher

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