The Biggest Little Paper in the Southwest
Welcome to our special 10th-anniversary issue of Desert Exposure. Exactly a decade ago this month, in April 1996, founder Adam Kizanis published the first issue, beginning a long "paper trail" that has led us to this point. If anyone has a copy of that historic first issue, by the way, we'd love to see it. This issue's cover reproduces in miniature all the Desert Exposure covers we have access to from the past 10 years, but there are some gaps in our collection, including that entire first year of 1996.
Kizanis soon passed the reins of Desert Exposure to Jay Glickman, who had already stepped in as his partner. In 2003, Jay Glickman sold Desert Exposure to us; this 10th anniversary issue also marks our third anniversary as the proud publishers.
In going through files of back issues to pick highlights for the "A Decade of Desert Exposure" anniversary roundup in this month's features section, I was struck both by how the publication has changed and by how some things have stayed the same. As you can see from the miniatures on this issue's cover, almost from the beginning Desert Exposure has colorfully celebrated the art of our region. The editorial highlights from early issues sampled in "A Decade of Desert Exposure" also show that, from the very first, this has been a publication willing to take chances, to tackle difficult and unexpected topics. Among the many fine early articles we didn't have room to excerpt were pieces on drunk driving, guns, youth violence and various psychological issues. You can't see, of course, how from the beginning Desert Exposure has been committed to covering topics in depth. Although the publication didn't start devoting 8,000, even 10,000 words to subjects such as immigration, trapping and the proposed spaceport until recently, even those fledgling issues in the late 1990s routinely went beyond the "sound bites" that were taking over print media in the wake of USA Today.
We like to think, naturally, that in addition to making our articles occasionally longer, we've made them better over time. Between the two of us, my wife and I bring more than five decades (urk!) of publishing experience to Desert Exposure, an advantage that its previous stewards did not have. So, yes, the publication has certainly changed to become perhaps more "professional" (or, if you must, "slicker").
The improvements we like to think we've made in our three years have unquestionably been rewarded by an outstanding response from readers as well as the folks who make Desert Exposure possible, our advertisers. As a result, this 10th anniversary issue is exactly twice the page count of the first issue we produced in April 2003. On average, too, recent issues have reached nearly 40 percent more readers than our first issue did. And we've grown online as well, launching a site at www.desertexposure.com that includes virtually all the content of our issues from January 2005 on. (So if you've arrived late to the party, you can go see what you've missed!)
All that growth feeds into our new 10th-anniversary slogan, which astute readers will already have spotted in its debut on this issue's cover: "The biggest little paper in the Southwest." That's no mere boast, by the way. As we noted a few issues back, with some 27,000 readers, Desert Exposure is now one of the most widely read publications in the region. And with a total of almost 700 pages last year—on track to top 800 pages in 2006—Desert Exposure offers the most content of any monthly in Southwest New Mexico—possibly in the whole state.
If you'd like to give Desert Exposure a little 10th anniversary gift, please take a moment to thank an advertiser you've noticed in these pages. Buying their product or service and telling them you saw their ad in Desert Exposure is of course even better!
Also say thanks to the management of the place
where you pick up your copy of Desert Exposure each month. Given the proliferation
of junky free publications lacking professionally produced local content
(if they have any non-ad content at all), plus the dictates of distant
corporate bosses who only pretend to care about the communities in which
they do business, the places that distribute Desert Exposure do
their communities a particular service—often against the odds. Let them
know that not only do you appreciate them making Desert Exposure available,
but that its presence is one of the things that draws you into their
establishment as a customer.
Of course, Desert Exposure will continue to change and grow as it enters its second decade. You can see some of the signs in this very issue. We're delighted, for example, to be able to welcome Donna Clayton Lawder to our informal team of regular contributors. An award-winning business reporter and most recently the administrator of the Mimbres Region Arts Council, Donna joins our growing masthead as Senior Editor. Besides writing articles such as this issue's lead package on bike racers and the annual Tour of the Gila, she'll be covering the business beat in southwest New Mexico in a new column launching next month, "Business Exposure." If you have tips or topics for her, you can drop her a line in care of Desert Exposure at PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another addition to this month's masthead recognizes the longstanding and, happily, ongoing contributions of Senior Writer Jeff Berg. Based in Las Cruces but roaming throughout the region for us, Jeff has written about everything from nudists to Elvis impersonators, the Border Patrol to payday loans. This month you'll find his byline on articles about Great Danes, graffiti artists and Living Farms in Columbus (the latest installment in our "Living Within Our Means" sustainability series).
You can help shape the ongoing evolution of Desert Exposure by completing the survey on the next page, or by responding electronically at
(we promise that the online version will work right from the start this year!). Our annual reader survey helps us make sure we're delivering a publication that's worth spending an hour or two of your life with every month, to fine-tune our column and department lineup, and to learn a little about your reading habits. We'll publish the results in the June issue.
As a special thank-you to you, the readers who take the time to complete our survey, we'll pick 10 respondents at random to receive our brand-new 10th-anniversary Desert Exposure coffee mugs. So take a few minutes right now to respond to our survey and invest in Desert Exposure's future. After all, there won't be another opportunity like this for, oh, at least another decade.
David A. Fryxell is publisher and editor of Desert