A Decade of Desert Exposure
Celebrating our first 10 years of publishing
"the biggest little paper in the Southwest."
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, George W. Bush was president, the Iraq War was newly begun, Chicago was the Best Picture and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. Desert Exposure contained half as many pages and the only color was on the cover. It was a great little publication, but ready for the next phase of its growth when we happened along, armed with two professional lifetimes of publishing experience. We purchased Desert Exposure, moved to Silver City and published our first issue in April 2003, 10 years ago this month.
Readers and advertisers responded to the new Desert Exposure, and it grew faster than our most optimistic expectations. Even as the publication changed, however, some constants remained. Columnists Larry Lightner and Henry Lightcap have been with us the entire time. We're particularly grateful to the advertisers whom we "inherited" who have stuck with us for 120 issues now. Those who were advertisers in our first issue back in April 2003 who are still advertising today include:
Ambank, Anne Veenstra, Barbara Duffy, Better Life Natural Pet Foods, Douglas Gorthy, Fierro Dental, Five Star Tattoo, Frame and Art Center, Gila Hike & Bike, Gila Regional Medical Center, Hacienda Realty (pet page), High Desert Brewing, Home Furniture, Kate Brown, Leyba & Ingalls, Lois Duffy, Mesilla Valley Film Society, Mimbres Farms, Mimbres Region Arts Council, Palace Hotel, Patrick Conlin, San Saba Pecan, Shevek, Silver City Food Co-Op, Silver City Mainstreet, Silver Imaging, Smith Realty, Syzygy and Western Stationers.
Since that first issue on our watch, we've tackled topics ranging from tourist traps to the Spaceport, from identifying critters' scat (with color photos) to battles over trapping. We've won eight awards in the annual Top of the Rockies competition sponsored by the regional Society of Professional Journalists, and twice earned mention among the year's best essays in the national "Best American Essays" anthology series. We've produced, not counting this issue, 7,272 pages and distributed roughly 1.2 million copies of Desert Exposure. (And, yes, we still do a good share of that delivery ourselves, to the occasional surprise of those who see the editor playing paperboy.)
Since January 2005, every issue has also been distributed on our website at www.desertexposure.com, thanks to the coding wizardry of webmaster David Cortner. Whole issues can now also be downloaded at www.scribd.com/desertexposure, and we're even on Facebook and Twitter (or Facetweet, as I persist in calling them to our daughter, who handles those social-media duties).
Among the many happy surprises along the way has been the success of a little feature we added to the Desert Diary pages a few years after we began that popular reader-contributed column: We invited readers to send us "postcards from the edge"—photos of themselves on vacation holding a copy of Desert Exposure. Since then, "the biggest little paper in the Southwest" has been literally around the world, to every continent including Antarctica. This month's cover and centerspread reprint, in miniature and in chronological order of publication, all (we hope — if we missed you, we apologize!) 150-some reader photos we've run to date. We have a healthy backlog of fresh photos that will run in the coming months, and this month's Desert Diary takes us to Alaska and (for the first time) Cuba.
What makes this reader-submitted feature so remarkable and rewarding is the affection it shows for our little publication. I like a lot of magazines, but I would never bother to tote, say, Esquire or The New Yorker on vacation to be photographed holding it. We're honored and more than a little humbled that Desert Exposure readers feel such a connection with the publication that they take it along on their travels. Every time a fresh photo arrives — yesterday it was Desert Exposure at the Taj Mahal! — we're reminded how lucky we are to do what we do, and how glad we are to have "adopted" Desert Exposure a decade ago.
Hence this anniversary cover and centerspread. We share the success of Desert Exposure over the past 10 years with our loyal and enthusiastic readers. Along with the advertisers who quite literally make each issue possible, they make Desert Exposure truly "the biggest little paper in the Southwest."
Start Your Keyboards!
The 2013 writing contest is underway.
This issue also brings our annual invitation to readers to get into the act of writing for their favorite publication. Our 2013 writing contest is beginning and wrapping up a month earlier than usual, so the winners can be featured in our August issue.
As usual, the rules are simple: Submit your best article, short story, essay, poem or other piece of writing by JUNE 15. Entries will be judged on literary quality and how well they express some aspect of life in Southwest New Mexico. You can enter as many works as you like. Maximum length per prose entry is 6,000 words.
First prize is $100, plus publication in the August issue. Plus we will award up to four second prizes of $25 each plus publication in Desert Exposure. All entries will be considered for future publication in Desert Exposure at our usual rates.
Mail entries to: Desert Exposure Writing Contest, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name and postal address, plus email address if you have one. Entries cannot be returned.
Go ahead, send us your best! It's your chance to be part of a decade-long tradition of publishing the best writing about our corner of the Southwest.
David A. Fryxell is editor of Desert Exposure.
PO Box 191
Silver City, NM 88062