The Independent depends on its readers, advertisers and employees for its success. One of the best measures of that success is when we can help worthwhile people and organizations.
Often, such involvement comes in the shape of a story that educates community members about some important issue or concern. Other times, it comes via an advertising campaign that links our readers with a worthwhile business or entertainment opportunity.
But from time to time, the Independent spearheads an initiative designed to make Colorado Springs a more tolerant, more sustainable, more inspiring community. Today, everyone at the Independent is proud to announce that, after a year of planning, we have teamed up with more than 50 foundation, business, media and civic partners to launch our most ambitious civic campaign ever.
Welcome to Give!
Our 2009 Give! campaign is a multimedia, community-building effort showcasing 29 nonprofits selected by a broad-based panel of two dozen civic leaders. Our goal is to funnel much-needed donations, exposure and volunteers to these extraordinary nonprofits, as well as to applaud the amazing work done by our entire nonprofit community.
While giving is its own reward, we've added some twists to get everyone in a charitable frame of mind. When you give to Give!, you also get incredible reward packages sponsored by 25 local businesses as well as Baseball Hall of Famer Goose Gossage.
Another twist: In a half-dozen "friendly competitions," participating nonprofits will seek to outpace one another for cash and other rewards. One such competition, sponsored by the Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation, FOX 21 News and the Independent, provides cash rewards to nonprofits with the most donations from people 36 and younger. Another rewards those groups that get the most donors during the first part of our two-month campaign.
Thanks to our friends at CoPilot Creative and Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Give! donations will be tracked in real time. Just a minute or so after you make a donation at indygive.com, you'll see it documented in the donation totals for every nonprofit you've supported.
For details about the 2009 Give! campaign, and to appreciate all the wonderful organizations supporting this initiative, check out the Give! insert in this issue.
Will the Indy perish?
Literally, about once a day I'm asked, "So will the Indy survive this downturn?" Knock on wood. So far, the Independent has had a very solid 2009. With four recent additions, our staffing is at an all-time high: 36 employees and about 80 part-time freelance writers, drivers and photographers.
Our circulation and readership are both at record numbers, with more than one in four El Paso County adults reading our printed edition and 60,000-plus unique online visitors checking us out regularly. To reach the region's best-educated, most active and civic-minded citizens, more businesses than ever are buying ads. We have seen a modest drop in the dollar value of the average sales contract, but that decline is balanced by our having more advertisers than ever. In a nutshell, readers like our paper, and more and more businesses find the Independent is a cost-effective vehicle to reach our ever-growing number of loyal readers.
While most media companies are downsizing, we plan steady growth in years ahead. By 2014, we want more than one-third of local adults to be regular Independent readers.
That in mind, we plan to increase our print circulation by 7 percent in 2010. If you know of a high-traffic retail business or office building that should carry the Independent, contact Amanda Lundgren at email@example.com or 577-4545. Speaking of Amanda, she has now three titles at the Indy: manager of the publisher, distribution coordinator and contributing writer.
Who owns our paper?
Until a few months ago, the answer would have been — me. But last year, several staff members expressed interest in buying into the paper. So it gives me pleasure to announce that over the next five years, dedicated employees will have an opportunity to purchase equity in Colorado Springs' largest locally owned media company.
The first new co-owner is stalwart CEO/General Manager Francis J. Zankowski, who recently purchased nearly 10 percent of the paper. He is a true partner in all aspects of the Independent, and our current success is in no small part due to his diligence and creativity.
In the coming months and years, additional employees will have the opportunity to share in the rewards — and risks — of entrepreneurship.
The Independent is truly a team effort. We have always encouraged employees to think and act like owners. And by giving employees the option to acquire stock, we will entrench our competitive spirit for excellence.
Changes in content
For 16 years, we have kept much of the same syndicated content, from Free Will Astrology to Whatzit?, from Stranger than Fiction to This Modern World. For the next four weeks, we're adding more comics, columns and puzzles.
We are seeking your input on which of these features should be included every week in the Indy, and which should be voted off the island. For details, see page 7.
May the force be with all of us.
Indy mission statement
• To publish a great, profitable and enduring locally owned newspaper.
• To have a committed, empowered staff working in an environment that encourages professional growth while respecting employees' personal welfare.
• To have a positive impact on our beloved community by making the Pikes Peak region a more tolerant, more ecological, more informed and a more fun place to live, to work, to shop, and to raise a family.