2016 was quite a year! It had a bit of everything stuffed into it: from politics to natural disasters and everything in between. As we reflect on 2016 and say goodbye to it, we say hello to 2017 and greet it with a hearty welcome; with the hope that this new year brings better fortunes for all of us.
2016 had its challenges and we have no doubt that 2017 will foist upon us a new set of challenges as a nation and as individuals. As an organization, we meet 2017 head-on with the perspective that there is no constant in life except change. It may sound like a time-worn cliché but it is one of life’s truisms that must be acknowledged.
It would be easy to write another piece about politics or any of the myriad issues that face our nation, but like most people, we have used the time over the holidays for somber reflection on our past and have taken a hard look at our future. Our thoughts have been underpinned by our motto: “Let there be light!” We have reflected on the journey that has gotten us to this point and sought to see the future through the eyes of our founders, Fergie and Winston Derrick. What would they do as they entered 2017?
For those that knew Fergie and Winston, the answer to that question would be obvious and can be distilled down to a single word: innovation! Observer was born out of the innovative minds of two brothers who leveraged technology to overcome the unique challenges that they faced at various points in time: from the initial Observer by Fax to the digital printing presses that first powered The Daily Observer. The Derrick brothers loved technology and they were true innovators.
The challenges today are as different as they are the same as yesteryear. You see media, the world in which we exist, is ever changing. It may not seem like it to many, but it is. Gone are the days when people relied primarily on the daily newspaper and broadcast radio as their primary news sources. Today, people’s lives are more “immediate”. They are connected to news sources 24 hours a day via their mobile phones and social media drives people’s lives.
To ensure continued success, we must cater to those needs. We, as a news and entertainment organization, must evolve so that we fit into the lifestyles of this and future generations. We must do all that we can to “future proof” our products so that we continue to deliver value to our customers and our advertisers. To do this, we must innovate. We must adopt the best practices in the world and deliver products to you that are second to none.
We must admit that we are romantics and we love the feel of paper; there is something tangible and credible in a printed piece that cannot be denied. That said, in today’s world, the reality is that clinging to that romanticism is to deny the global trends in media. Almost every day, it seems as though another publication shifts from the costly traditional (and inefficient) print version to digital delivery.
Like every other printed publication in the world, Observer is not immune to the declines in subscribers and print advertising revenue as customers and advertisers transition to the internet and social media. We must look at the local (and global) trends and adjust. That is why innovation is our mantra for 2017 and the future.
We need only follow the life of The Independent out of the UK to see what the future holds. Launched in 1986, The Independent was described by the BBC as such: “It looked strikingly modern, it came with none of the partisan baggage of 1980s politics and in an era of bitter industrial disputes that blighted rivals such as the Times, it carved out a large readership.” The newspaper became popular and, at its peak, had a readership in excess of 420,000. At the time the decision was made to cease printing, readership had dropped over 90% to approximately 28,000.
We have done a lot to boost our digital footprint over the past few years and we are proud that antiguaobserver.com is the number one news portal for Antigua & Barbuda, but that is just the beginning. We realize that the reason you read or listen to Observer is for our content and 2017 will see many changes to the content that we provide to you. There will be more. Our resolution for 2017, and our promise to you, is that we will provide more content and innovate content that better suits your lifestyle and interests. We will transition to become a true multi-media company that fulfills the demands of our customers and advertisers.
What will it all look like in the end? We are not entirely sure but we do know that we are excited for the future and look forward to our continued journey together. So, we invite you to join us on this journey of innovation. There is no destination other than your satisfaction. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.