Starting any new business is an adventure, and starting a newspaper perhaps more than most.
When we printed our first issue back in April of this year we could only imagine the challenges to come. From the question of how to present Colombia in an honest way, to the endless bureaucracy we’ve had to navigate, our first few months have been an eye-opening experience.
We launched in April this year, when an exclusive interview with Irish politician Martin McGuinness forced us to take the plunge after months of planning. Since then, we have covered topics ranging from the Colombian presidential elections to Bogota’s only women’s roller derby.
We have started a listings section, and in November finally came into the 21st century with the introduction of The Bogota Post website. We have also expanded our team, a relief to the founding members who are now getting five hours of shut-eye on production nights instead of none. It’s been quite a ride, involving many sleepless nights and a whole lot of junk food.
Distribution has seen some members of our team come full circle, from childhood paper rounds to Friday nights spent distributing newspapers in Zona G. Comedic moments have included our features editor bleeding all over a Bogota Beer Company after cutting herself on the nylon bands used to wrap the bundles of newspapers, and trying to explain to our managing director’s new room mates why she had spent the entire weekend working from her bed with the team (it was the only place we could get internet connection).
Speaking of internet, there was also the memorable production weekend we couldn’t get internet in a single cafe or team member’s apartment, and arrived to a friend’s apartment – our last hope – to see Claro workers drilling outside, ruining any chance of printing on time.
Other fumbles have included our Listings Editor Azzam Alkadhi getting so nervous when meeting Mayor Petro, that he called him “Señor Alkadhi” (his father’s name) instead of Señor Alcalde; and an editor taking a phone call from an unknown number and thinking it was her date for the weekend, when it was actually a source who was pretty bemused at being invited for a beer by someone he’d never met.
But it’s not all fun and games. As an English language newspaper, we are in the unique position of being both inside and outside a culture. We all love Colombia, and many consider it our adopted home, but we are not Colombian. We are proud to have many native Colombians as part of our contributing team, but also want to use our unique position to learn more about this country and use that knowledge to present the country to others in an engaging way.
The question of how best to do this has been difficult at times. With an issue like the peace process, for example, you are dealing with a very emotive topic that has touched the lives of most Colombians. Coming into this panorama as an outsider, it can be easy to focus on the numbers and in doing so dismiss the everyday lives touched by conflict. This is something we continue to learn from and improve.
Reflecting the voices of our diverse readership has also been a steep learning curve. This means at times printing views we don’t agree with, but we welcome any opportunity to spark a debate and aim to address everyone who reads us, from the backpackers in La Candelaria hostels, to the ‘old-timers’ who have been living in the country for 20 years.
As a growing newspaper, we welcome any input into improving what we do. Whether you have a story idea or a suggestion as to how we could make our coverage better, we’d love to hear from you.
We hope to continue to develop and educate ourselves about this country. Despite our myriad of teething problems, we have been blown away by the reception the newspaper has received. We would like to thank everyone who has helped us along the way, from the contributors who help make the paper what it is, to the advertisers who help us to keep going.
Our year in numbers:
Number of sleepless nights: Too many to count
Number of grey hairs gained: At least 3
Record number of days without showering on a production weekend: 5 Number of swear words edited out: 1,273
Number of swear words printed: 12
Number of articles submitted on time: 5
Number of pizzas consumed: at least 20
Number of contributors: 63 and counting…Thank you to all of you.
Be sure to take a look at the full list of our end of year perspectives here