Pat Davis

This piece is offered by the author as commentary. It does not necessarily imply endorsement by The Comment.  Have an opinion? Share it: editor@corralescomment.com

If you are lucky enough to live in the Village of Corrales you know that the mailman’s visit every other Saturday brings something special. That’s when the latest edition of the Corrales Comment arrives, faithfully published every two weeks just as it has been for 40-years. It is “must-read” news for anyone interested in the outcome of Tuesday’s late-evening Village Council meeting or those planning next week’s local gallery visits and date night on Corrales Road.

There is an old saying that a local newspaper is a community’s best conversation with itself.

Without a forum for that conversation, the small things that create local identity and difference, and create our best and most honest form of democracy, go away. As a local elected official myself, I can tell when an issue makes it to the front page of the paper. My email and voicemail are full of enthralled and outraged constituents whose messages all start with “I read in the paper that….”  I can’t imagine good government without local news.

But America has lost more than 2,200 small newspapers over the past 15 years and New Mexico is no exception. I am convinced that the transition from local newspapers to corporate newspaper conglomerates and self-curated social media is eroding the foundation of democracy —and once it is gone we will never get it back.

Our identity, culture, and democracy itself require strong local news of the highest caliber. We need a plan to save these local papers and the people and stories they tell. That’s why, in 2020, after the demise of the 20+-year-old Weekly Alibi, I asked a business partner and the remaining staff to help me build a new weekly to fill that gap. The paper we started, simply called The Paper, is now the state’s largest printed (yes, we brought back print newspapers!) weekly source for arts, culture and events, and it boasts an impressive daily digital news audience larger than the print version of the state’s largest paper.

That experiment showed that New Mexicans want local news well-told, but the best models of New Mexico journalism are fading fast. That’s why I said yes when Jeff Radford asked if I’d be willing to be the caretaker for his paper when he retired.

As anyone who has followed the demise of local news knows, newspapers aren’t the business for anyone looking to get rich quick (as a nod to the quixotic efforts, we even considered calling the publishing company Fools Gold Inc.). But sometimes, doing the right thing is more important than profit. That’s why ownership of the Comment is moving to the New Mexico Local News Preservation Project, a soon-to-be certified Benefit Corporation (B-Corp) I founded with the mission to preserve and enhance local newspapers that are the best platforms for local civic engagement, cultural preservation and economic development.

No one could possibly replace Jeff Radford’s Corrales Comment, so we don’t plan to try. Under new ownership, the Comment will continue to be written and edited in Corrales by the same dedicated staff and contributors who have produced it for years, including Jeff Radford himself, as publisher emeritus, who has agreed to continue providing occasional columns when he’s home between long overdue global adventures.

Jeff has even agreed to let us continue publishing from his home office for a few more weeks until we find a more permanent space (if you have an extra office in the village, let’s talk! Email me at Pat@abq.news)

Readers worried about change shouldn’t worry. We love the Comment, just the way it is, just as much as you do. To be sure it stays local, we’ve asked all the village-based staff and contributors to keep working. The paper will still arrive in pickup locations and mailboxes every other week.

We just need you to keep advertising, patronizing businesses that do, and paying your subscription every year.

By partnering with The Paper, we can help Corrales’ restaurants, galleries and businesses local events, galleries and small business access a broader Albuquerque readership and enhance the Comment’s coverage of politics, climate change, and elections with stories by The Paper’s award-winning staff of New Mexico-based journalists. That partnership also means we can share publishing costs in the back office to can keep advertising and subscription costs low for all of you.

The way I see it, democracy isn’t free, and a subscription to your local paper is the entry fee for participation. Thank you to Jeff for building a world-class local news source and thank you to Corrales for entrusting us with it.

Pat Davis is the new owner/publisher of the Corrales Comment. He is also the co-owner and co-publisher of The Paper, Albuquerque’s free weekly, the state’s largest LGBTQ+-owned newspaper. Davis is also serving in his second term as an Albuquerque City Councilor.

Contact Pat: pat@corralescomment.com

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