Thank you for being a faithful reader of the Messenger Mountain News. It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that the Messenger is ceasing print operations immediately. We made this decision in this time of crisis because it is necessary for a number of reasons.
As our local businesses have suffered, shuttered doors, or been limited to essential services only, many of their advertising budgets have evaporated. While our beautiful, free, ad-supported newspaper has survived with them these past several years, the Messenger is now feeling those reductions. Printing costs are becoming too heavy a burden to bear in the current environment.
When Flavia Potenza approached me in November 2016 she was feeling desperate about the impending closure of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger. After much discussion and consideration with advisers we partnered together and in January 2017 we launched a brand new paper, on our own, with a personal loan and by our bootstraps. We were fortunate enough to have the trust of the legacy advertisers to get us launched. It was a daring idea to create an ad-supported paper that would reach every mailbox in Topanga. The old Topanga Messenger had a dwindling subscriber base of perhaps 300 when it closed. The Messenger Mountain News now would reach everyone and importantly, give advertisers the reach into the community that they needed.
I became co-founder, Business Manager, Advertising Manager, Creative Director, Webmaster, Chief Financial Officer, and more. With a beautifully designed layout, full color pages and really good writing, the new Messenger Mountain News was launched. Our covers became iconic and the community repeatedly sent us lovely fan mail.
The work behind the scenes, however, was brutal. Newspaper life requires, in its very nature, a hectic pace where we are continually running ahead of other mortals in the calendar. While I had never worked a newspaper business before, I had a broad skill set in marketing, design, business management and finances. To run the paper, I had to create new structures, processes, templates all from scratch. In my previous life I ran a web design company, Design Like It Matters, so in August of our second year I built M’Online, during my “free time.” It took me over eight weeks of weekends and burning the midnight oil.
When you know how to do a lot, you get to do a lot. I look forward to taking a breather after these several years of full days and full weeks at the office. It was a joy for me to build this community newspaper. The business now needs other individuals to keep it up and running.
In every crisis there is opportunity, and one lies here. I am leaving the Messenger Mountain News to pursue other projects. This pause in printing operations will be put to good use. It will take time to build a team to replace me, but Flavia Potenza—co-founder and Editor-in-Chief— is working on this as we speak.
I wish my former partner, Flavia, the best of luck. As soon as this restructuring is completed, she will be reaching out to current and future advertisers to get the Messenger printed and back in your mailboxes. Hopefully, in the “new economy” to come, printing our local newspaper will once again be financially feasible. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas and suggestions.
Eventually, as we all move carefully from our shelter-in-place and find new ways of being, I look forward to seeing new friends and old, sharing my love for this community as always.