Ever since I relocated to Costa Rica last September, friends have asked: So what are you doing down there? Tomorrow, Jan. 15, you’ll see exactly what I’ve been doing—what my colleagues and I have been working toward for the past 11 months.
The Tico Times was founded in 1956, and today it is widely considered the most important English-language newspaper in Central America. On the streets of San José, people recognize the Times immediately, whether or not they speak a lick of English. The weekly used to hit newsstands every Friday morning, but in 2012 the price of paper became too expensive, and the Times had to stop printing a physical edition.
When I interviewed at the Times, almost one year ago, my now-editor David Boddiger was writing a business plan to keep the paper solvent. Years of financial woes had battered the business, and now it was do or die. But every newspaper in the world faces an uncertain future, and Dave decided to give me a chance: I started sending him articles, photos and video that very week. To date, I have published 74 items in The Tico Times.
Tomorrow, the “new” Tico Times will go live on the Internet. I am so excited about this event that there is a permanent fireworks display exploding in my head. In many ways, the paper will remain the same—the same award-winning coverage, the same good-humored style, the same commitment to Costa Rican life and culture. But the paper will no longer look like your hometown Penny Saver. It will look (in my estimation) more like National Geographic.
My part in the redesign has been pretty modest (compared with the herculean efforts of the editors, designers, technicians, etc.), but never, in the course of my long freelance career, have I felt so involved in a publication’s future. I have described my role at the Times as a “dream job” to friends back home, but it is more than that. You can have a dream job at a company you care nothing about. The Tico Times has been my portal to an entirely new nation, language, and way of life. My colleagues are among the most interesting and polymathic people I’ve ever met. I could not imagine a more exciting time to join a company.
So whether or not you live in Costa Rica, or you even plan to vacation in Costa Rica some distant day, please visit the new Tico Times website. After 11 months of blood, sweat, and guaro, the old rag is about to look spectacular. I am terribly biased, but believe me, you’ll like what you see.