Letter from the Editor: The Tico Times’ incredible year

December 28, 2018

Classic ads boasted that a Timex watch “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” That’s a pretty good summary of the past 18 months at The Tico Times. Somehow this little paper, now in its 63rd year, just won’t quit.

After a brief closure in 2017 following the death of our owner, Jonathan Harris, The Tico Times reopened in September 2017 under new ownership. The mission was clear: to embrace The Tico Times’ traditional missions as a way to honor Jonathan, as well as the Dyer family, who founded the paper and guided it through much of its 62-year history. We wanted to return to the in-depth “slow journalism” the print weekly was known for; build on the young Costa Rican audience we connected with when we became an online news source; and embrace our roots in the international community.

Just over a year later, I can tell you this much: It’s already been an amazing ride.

We’ve grown from a single part-time staffer (yours truly) to a freelance-driven organization powered by a vibrant group of writers, photojournalists, podcasters and more. They come from Europe, North America, Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil and beyond, surrounding a core of fresh Costa Rican talent. Our electoral coverage in February and April featured the first all-Costa Rican reporting team in the paper’s history – with one wannabe Tica in the editor’s chair. We’re working with the next generation of Costa Rican journalism, and it’s a group I’m proud to know.

With them, we’ve been able to:

  • Bring The Tico Times back to print. While our bread and butter is our daily online news coverage, our new quarterly print editions (December, March, June and September) have allowed us to reconnect with residents and tourists who love to flip through a paper copy over their morning coffee. Pick up our December issue here.
  • Build a distribution model based on microenterprise and nonprofits. Our papers are free to our distributors. They can give the paper to their clients or guests, charge the ₡500 cover price and keep the proceeds, or donate the proceeds to a local nonprofit organization. The approach is designed to support small news vendors as well as outstanding nonprofits.
  • Offer a menu of advertising options that includes small businesses. As Central America’s only one-stop shop for companies that want to reach English-speaking customers through print, online coverage, video and audio, we want to make sure we’re accessible to all – so we’ve developed options from $99 on up.
  • Create Costa Rica’s first-ever 360 election coverage. If you didn’t have a front-row seat on April 1 to Costa Rica’s most dramatic election result in recent history – or if you just want to relive it – our journalists have you covered.
  • Launch a weekly news show and in-depth podcast. Assistant Editor Alexander Villegas hosts The Tico Times Weekly Digest, a video news show that takes you through the top news from Costa Rica every Monday. And in the first episodes of The Tico Times Dispatch, our new podcast, he explored the Nicaraguan migrant crisis and Costa Rica’s tax reform controversy.
  • Shine a light on the country’s agents of change. Our first-ever section sponsor, the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA), makes it possible for our Costa Rica Changemakers section to share stories about people working to make Costa Rica a better place.
  • Find media partners to share more stories with the world. Our alliances with Semanario Universidad, Vecinos Activos, LatinClima and Nicaragua’s La Prensa mean that we can take important Spanish-language journalism to a broader audience around the world.
  • Explore Costa Rica’s communities in depth. Our Deep Dive series sends our entire editorial team to a single community for a week of coverage – news, culture, dining and nightlife and more. Our first series from Santa Teresa is being published now, and our Puerto Viejo Deep Dive is coming in January.
  • Announce new subscription options. In November, we launched The Tico Times 5% Club, through which readers can make donations starting at $24 per year (or $2 a month) to support our independent journalism. Members receive exclusive content and access to our journalists through weekly Facebook Live sessions – and our eternal devotion.

Our dreams for 2019 are massive. More Deep Dives, podcasts, videos and in-depth reporting. A brand-new tool to connect tourists and residents with the services they need. Expanded journalism education tools for our freelancers and interns. Sections devoted to women’s rights, the environment, the LGBTQ+ community, and residents. Events so we can connect with our Tico Times 5% Members and enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer… and much more.

Thank you for being a part of this year through your readership, feedback, and donations. I hope you’ll continue with us in 2019 – as a contributor, as a supporter, and most importantly, as a reader. Your feedback, good and bad, keeps us motivated and makes us better from week to week. Reach out to me anytime at kstanley@ticotimes.net.

On behalf of everyone at The Tico Times, I wish you a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2019.

Katherine Stanley Obando is the Managing Editor of The Tico Times.

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