It’s a little mind-boggling to think that it has been nearly two years since Kevin and I took ownership of the Moab Sun News. I can’t decide if the time has flown by since then, or if it feels like lifetimes ago. Somehow it feels like both. But one thing is for sure: we purchased a great paper and have nurtured it into an even stronger community asset.

I’ll be honest with you: it got a little dicey there for a while. The pandemic shutdowns resulted in a loss of advertising revenue that could have doomed our small paper, as has happened (and continues to happen) to local news outlets all over the country.

Thanks to reader and advertiser support, plus a few grants and some tightening of the belt, we have regained a measure of stability and things are on the upswing. This is exciting, and I want to share with you a bit about how we are creating a great local paper in the midst of a nationwide local news crisis – and why we need your support now more than ever.

The main key to our success as a paper is our staff. I’d put the talent on our team up against any other small-town paper – and bigger ones, too. Good reporting takes a mixture of intellect, creativity and precision of language; it’s not easy.

For example, consider what it takes to do quality coverage of local government. A reporter must first observe the meeting, which often lasts hours. She must then extract the most important information for readers and explain the context of the discussions, putting complicated issues into plain language for readers who may be new to the subject. She must quote everyone accurately and fact-check when necessary. As local government meetings usually happen later on Tuesdays and we go to press on Wednesday afternoon, there’s about a dime’s width of turnaround time. That is what our writers, most often our staff reporter Rachel Fixsen, do on the regular, in addition to covering a wide range of topics such as public lands, public health, education, local events, regional news, business profiles and other features, and more.

Our managing editor, Maggie McGuire, consistently pushes the quality of our content to new heights. She’s also built partnerships with other local institutions, increasing the original content we offer readers and taking our publication’s coolness factor to a higher level.

We now feature “Cosmo’s Corner” in collaboration with our local public library, in which a real cat who lives at the library recommends books to young readers. We run exclusive articles from Science Moab, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people and places through science. We’ve teamed up with local radio station KZMU to do news coverage on-air and we do frequent profiles of local small businesses, the people who run them, and the unique value they bring to our community.

As an institution, it is important to us to include the voices and experiences of “regular” people who may not be in the public eye but who are driving forces in the community, including those from groups that are historically underrepresented in journalism. We need all the voices of our community for the newspaper to be a true reflection of who we are, which in time becomes a record of who we were. As the old saying goes, journalism is the first rough draft of history.

Our print copies never languish on the racks and our web traffic tripled in 2019 – we get tens of thousands of website visits some days. We are not only being read widely by residents of Moab and Grand County but by many in the Four Corners region – and across the world – who love this area.

And that is what makes us a great newspaper for our advertisers – ads in our paper get seen and get results. Many of our advertisers are small businesses like us and we love having them all represented in our pages.

As we all know, the pandemic shutdowns had a devastating effect on our local economy. As with the economy as a whole, our advertising revenue is still in the process of rebounding.

We know that to survive the pandemic as a business we will have to not only keep providing great content but get creative on how to bring in the funds to keep it going. We have started applying for grants and have so far won a few smaller ones. We partnered with a local-media nonprofit that enabled us to receive tax-deductible donations to fund our COVID-19 reporting. We also launched a new product: a digital e-edition sent directly to our reader’s email inboxes before the print edition hits stands. The e-edition is a great way to never miss the news and also to support quality local journalism. It is available on our website, www.moabsunnews.com.

With continued support from our community of readers and advertisers, we see a bright future ahead for the Moab Sun News. But it will take your support. If you own a business in Moab, let us work with you to grow your business by advertising on our pages. If you are a reader who finds value in what we do, please become a supporter by subscribing to our e-edition or by making a donation.

We have some great stickers to display support for the Moab Sun News, too! Call us at 435-259-6261 or email me at heila.moabsunnews@gmail.com if you’d like one.

Thank you for reading and for being a part of this unique, amazing Moab community.