The Tico Times, an award-winning weekly that was the first English-language newspaper in Central America, was founded in 1956 by veteran U.S. newswoman Elisabeth (Betty) Dyer after a group of seniors from San José's Lincoln School asked her to give them some tips on journalism. Little did she know that more than 50 years later the paper would survive and thrive.
The editorial in the first edition, May 18, 1956, explained that the nonprofit organization was started so that young people interested in journalism could receive practical, on-the-job training and, in the process, provide Costa Rica's English-speaking public with a local newspaper.
The early editions of The Tico Times averaged eight pages, printed on letterpress. Its all-volunteer, all-student staff quickly swelled to include enthusiastic members of the expat community, as well as correspondents up and down the hemisphere, former colleagues of the Dyers who were delighted to lend a hand to the feisty little weekly.
From the very first edition, the paper had readers outside Costa Rica – a surprising development that has persisted ever since, giving The Tico Times its unique flavor as a community paper that reaches out to the world.
Always a pioneer, The Tico Times was the first newspaper in Costa Rica to print color photos on its front page, the first to practice investigative reporting and the first to cover environmental issues. It has also been a leader in the hemisphere's fight for press freedom; former publisher Richard Dyer fought a 20-year battle against the obligatory licensing of journalists, which resulted in the abolition of Costa Rica's licensing law in 1995 and earned Dyer the Inter-American Press Association's Grand Prize for Freedom of the Press that year.
The small but mighty Tico Times has also reaped other prestigious awards, including the IAPA-Pedro G. Beltran Award for Distinguished Service to the Community (1981), a Special Citation from Columbia University's Maria Moors Cabot Awards (1985), the National Conservation Prize (1990), the Salvation Army's Other Awards (1998) and the National Tourism Chambers Media Award (1998).
Despite boasting readers in 50 countries, a thriving online edition (the TT joined the leading daily La Nación in becoming the first newspapers in Costa Rica to venture into cyberspace in 1995, long before many of their brethren in the developed world had made the leap), a best-selling annual visitors' guide, a bilingual restaurant guide to Costa Rica and a growing list of popular sections and supplements, The Tico Times remains a friendly, family operation.
Our cluttered offices in a converted old house in San José's court district are an oasis for resident and migratory birds that nest in our trees.
Today, we print between 28 and 32 pages each Friday, which include news, The Nica Times and the beloved Weekend section with tourism and restaurant reviews, columnists and a popular calendar section with upcoming events. We distribute more than 15,000 copies of our paper in Costa Rica, the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. Elisabeth and Richard Dyer's daughter Dery now runs the show.
As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, we freshened up our print edition and our website, www.ticotimes.net, with a redesign. And to celebrate 2010, we’ve launched an even better site with a fresh new design, including multimedia, new subscription packages and a micro-payment system.
We also continue to welcome students and aspiring journalists from all over the world, and are proud that many of our grads have gone on to top jobs with major newspapers and magazines in the United States, Canada and Europe.
If you are interested in working as an intern in the editorial department of The Tico Times (we offer both reporting and photography internships), please click here.