1 January 2009
Dear FOF (Friend of the Flyer):
Whatever "shock and awe" 2009 has in store for us, this particular new year will have a tough act to follow. On the plus side, 2008 brought us a national election with a truly historic result, the election of the country's first African-American president. On the not-so-plus side, 2008 also brought a fair amount of calamity, particularly these last four months, when we were taken to the cleaners, financially, as a nation. It's been a long time since so many Memphis families have found themselves facing a new year with as much fiscal uncertainty as is facing them now.
2009 was on course to be a special year for the Flyer even before all this recent commotion, for we mark our 20th anniversary of publication with the new year. That's a long time in any business, and we're mighty grateful, to you our readers, for letting us enlighten, aggravate, and entertain you for two decades now. We couldn't and wouldn't be here without you.
Nor would we have survived half this long without the support of the thousands of local businesses who use the Flyer to reach out to Memphis, recognizing that the 50,000-plus papers we put out on the street every week represent an ideal opportunity for them to deliver messages to their customers in cost-efficient fashion. As a free publication that's 100 percent dependent upon advertiser support, we really wouldn't be here without local business owners who believe they can and should put their money where our mouth is.
And while, over the years, we have on occasion written things that have irritated those businesses, I like to think that we have a nice synergy going with them. After all, like most of our advertisers, the Flyer is itself "relentlessly local," from top to bottom, in every facet of its business. Not everyone is aware of the fact that the publisher of the Flyer, Contemporary Media, Inc., is Memphis' largest locally owned media company, or that that company has as its primary mission the publishing of the Mid-South region's highest-quality journalistic products. We may not make millions for Wall Street investors, but I like to think that the scores of national journalism awards that line our lobby walls speak volumes about how well our editorial staff has accomplished that mission.
In these dodgy economic times, one hears more and more about how newspapers are dying. I'd be lying if I said that 2008 was a terrific business year for the Flyer, but I must confess, when I see these kind of reports, I feel a bit like Mark Twain, who, when he read his own obituary (in a newspaper, mind you) replied that "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
Whatever becomes of other publications in town, the Flyer isn't going anywhere. Across the country, daily newspapers have indeed suffered dramatic circulation declines. But happily, here in Memphis, weekly distribution levels at our 700-plus local locations remain at historic levels, with pick-up rates holding steady at
95 percent. As long as we continue to deliver these kinds of numbers, we're confident that our advertisers will continue to find the Flyer a cost-effective way to reach Memphis' "best and brightest" with their advertising messages.
We may be proud of what we've achieved, but we aren't so blind as to think that the Flyer brand can still exist in print alone. In this day and age of instant informational access, memphisflyer.com remains an integral part of our journalistic package, a first-class website that delivers breaking local news and offers a whole range of innovative marketing opportunities for our customers. Our print and on-line products go hand in hand; in fact, one can no longer exist without the other. To that end, we'll be rolling out an all-new web package later this month. I think you'll be very pleased with our staff's efforts.
As we commence our 20th anniversary year, we like to think we're changing with the times, as we always have. We've come a long way by being innovative, bold, and sassy; don't look for us to stop anytime soon.
All the best,