Coming to work at The Reader before our first issue in March 1994 meant heading to a 2-bedroom loft at Alahambra Apartments on 49th & Dodge Sts., preferably after its newlywed residents were up and the boundless husky pup had been taken for a walk. That route took me right by one of Omaha's first gas stations, at the time being transformed into vegetarian restaurant icon McFoster's, a flurry of long-haired activity determined to open that spring. It was such a flurry, that after a pit stop to peak in on progress, I found out that the folks who had been organizing Omaha’s nascent annual Earth Day weren't planning another.
And so I found myself part of a great group helping to launch The Reader, Omaha's original alternative newsweekly, and the same time I was organizing my first Earth Day.
Leading a celebration of sustainability as I was about to vastly expand my carbon footprint wasn’t even a thought. Carbon was barely on the radar then. It was all about other forms of more immediately toxic pollutants.
Today, The Reader has its biggest readership in our history. We also publish the bilingual community weekly El Perico and run OmahaJobs.com and its job fairs. A little known fact is we have grown into a local leader in the fast-growing digital services area under PioneerMedia.Me. We are helping over 50 local businesses become their own media channels online. And for the last few years our team has partnered with Earth Day on sponsorships and programming, while I find myself behind the microphone, emceeing another Earth Day, Nebraska’s original holiday.
Twenty years later carbon pollution clearly threatens the long-term future of our planet. As a print media, we need to find a way to sustain a carbon-neutral path forward, using new technologies and assuming the environmental costs or cutting our impact.
While that might be the best reason The Reader is aiming to cut its carbon footprint in half next year by going monthly in print and daily online starting this January, there are a few others.
As a monthly print publication, The Reader will have a glossy cover, significantly expanded coverage, increased circulation and an affordable home delivery rate. You will still be able to find us in your usual trusty pick-up spots, but for $25 per year we will put every issue in your mailbox, less than the cost of a monthly latte or a couple of soda pops.
As valuable, durable and impactful as print should be, we can also better live up to the most important part of our traditional editorial mission:
With a commitment to the freelance culture and by empowering our writers to pitch stories that affect the community, we strive to deliver the most compelling, accurate and relevant stories to our readership, acting as watchdogs to go beyond the surface of issues to bring awareness, clarity and perspective for those without a voice. We don’t pander, challenging our readership to a deeper understanding and involvement by covering the culture of politics and the politics of culture.
That mission expands in the digital age by engaging our community before and after the story and across platforms. The Reader aims to create partnerships that dive deep into some of our most important issues, facilitate positive change and track those changes (or not), into the future. While politics governs us, culture binds us. Expect to see the same writers and new ones – journalists and other guest contributors.
After 20 years of covering the same issues, and being at our best when we illuminate important civic and cultural matters, hold public officials accountable and celebrate artistic achievements, we’re ready to do whatever we can to make a difference in our community and to preserve the editorial independence and honest journalism you have come to rely on from us. If you are interested in partnering with us, we’d love to hear from you.
Like almost every other print publication finding its way in the digital age, our readership has an exponentially growing universe of informational sources across multiple screens. One of the questions we’ve been answering for 20 years is “what am I going to do tonight/this weekend?”
In that time, the universe of things to do in Omaha has also increased exponentially. When we started around an effort to keep Sokol Auditorium open, Benson had only a very few hangout spots and we didn’t have five world-class performance venues in the CenturyLink Center, The Slowdown, Holland Performing Arts Center, Stir Concert Cove and Waiting Room, not to mention entertainment options at Village Pointe or Midtown Crossing. Performing arts has never been more dynamic and visual arts more vibrant. The restaurant scene has exploded.
To better serve your ongoing informational needs and to be instantly responsive to whatever your schedule demands, we will also be relaunching TheReader.com in January, updating it daily and sharing across social media platforms. We are determined to create more opportunities for current coverage, artist features, previews, reviews and on-the-town planning. Look for more digital developments including a mobile-ready site, an app, community engagement tools and an exciting newsletter partnership.
We wouldn’t have gotten this far and be in such a strong position to make this shift without your steady readership and the support of our advertisers. We have an outstanding office and freelance team that isn’t afraid of change and who inherently understands an important part of our mission is to serve our community. We can’t thank you enough for the opportunity you’ve given us and this chance to take it even further. We look forward to serving you more deeply in print and daily online, and helping our clients not only advertise, but to grow their own digital solutions.