Thanks For Sticking With Us For Our Next Quarter Century
Written by Miami Today on May 29, 2008
For exactly 25 years Miami Today has followed a course we set in 1983 for a new newspaper for a new Miami, but it wasn’t until one day this January that I knew we’d met that objective.
Early (for me) that Saturday, I was to guide a panel for 150 Leadership Miami members. The moderator asked the young professionals and executives if they read Miami Today. Almost all raised a hand.
Besides the gratification of finding a flock of readers, I learned this: we’d remained relevant to newer readers doing exactly what we’ve always done, despite an Internet explosion that has blasted readers away from the dailies and left them questioning their viability.
For it’s now clear that the enemy of newspapers has not been technology at all, but what newspapers have or haven’t done. As comic strip character Pogo said long before the Internet was even a dream, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
So why has Miami Today grown from a few thousand copies on June 2, 1983, to 33,000-plus today while one local English-language daily has disappeared and the other has dwindled to a bit more than half its former circulation?
Clues come from the way this paper was to view the world.
First, we felt in 1983 what everybody feels acutely in 2008: there is far too much for all of us to absorb. If we were going to add one more newspaper to the mix, we had to save you time and select only relevant information. Today, readers average a bit more than 25 precious minutes with each edition.
To keep you reading us about 50% longer than readers spend with the daily, we cram in details vital to those who can influence events. We would not emulate papers that seem to have so many words but so little relevance.
We noted that most of what passes for news is ephemeral. We determined to focus on trends and events with long-term impact, and to return to those issues again and again. Our aim is to report what makes Miami tick, not just today but over the years.
We knew that one size does not fit all. We targeted an educated, interested audience who would not just flip through Miami Today but would put much of it to use. That meant we didn’t have to entertain or entice people who didn’t particularly care. Our readers care.
There’s too much news in Miami, not too little. We decided to pluck from the vast orchard of stories not the juiciest scandals that would leave a bad taste later but the budding reports of those who were building this city’s future.
News doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We put history and perspective into as many reports as possible, so that newcomers who continue to flood to this community — thank goodness — could quickly grasp how an event fit contextually into everything around them.
Those newcomers quicken this county’s pulse. They exemplify the links of Miami around the globe. For like news, Miami does not exist in a vacuum. We set out to look at Miami globally even while dissecting it locally.
Because most of us or our parents come from elsewhere, we wanted to become a common thread to help groups understand one another. Most of what you know about Miami is not personal experience but what you’ve read or heard. We wanted to be a reliable link among the county’s many groupings.
To do that, we reversed journalistic practice: instead of remaining aloof in order to be impartial, we became active in the community — Carmen Betancourt-Lewis, our vice president and my ally in this for 25 years, is seemingly everywhere, listening and looking. Most of our team tries to do the same. We also have a prejudice: we like Miami and we want it to be the best it can be.
Finally, we knew that if you could get your news any old place, you didn’t need us. That’s why the Internet is killing newspapers: they trade in commodities. We seek out information no one else gives you — at least, not until much, much later. If you don’t read us, you don’t know how much you’re missing.
We set these goals a quarter century ago. Since then, as Dr. Eduardo Padrón writes below, this community has changed much. Miami Today’s goals have not.
As we start our 26th year this week, we pledge for the next 25 to follow these precepts. You’ve started that journey today. Please stay with us on our trailblazing route to fill the future needs of an evolving Miami.