RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was almost two years ago exactly that The Rio Times was born. Launched as a beta web site in February 2009, we began testing the waters to see what kind of interest there was for local English language news in Rio. Almost immediately people seemed to appreciate it, and since then we have been on a path of gradual growth, a Print edition being the largest step so far.
Since first visiting Rio in 2002 I thought there was a lack of English language local news, and especially in 2004-2007 when I was here for months at a time, I personally missed it. So after half-a-year of planning, I arrived January 31st, 2009 and within three weeks, we were publishing.
Not many business analysts would suggest a news company these days, but there is one segment of the industry that remains healthy – the “Weekly”. And while Rio is a major world city, the native English speaking community here is relatively small, maybe 20,000 (no official numbers exist) – although perhaps 200,000 travel through each month.
So from the beginning we modeled ourselves after a weekly community news company, publishing Online every Wednesday, in anticipation of going to Print at some point. Of course it would be ideal to remain solely digital, but a lot of people (myself included) still value holding a newspaper in their hands – if nothing else to take to the beach.
Along the way I learned more about the history of English language news in Rio, the last paper being the Latin American Daily Post, a relatively small 6,000 daily distributed in Rio, São Paulo and Brasília. They closed in the late 80s, and after spending some time with the past editor, Steve Yolen, it was clear that while there is an audience, to be financially viable it was crucial to remain streamlined.
Although soon some new opportunities presented themselves, as the scale of the pre-salt oil discoveries off the coast of Rio became apparent, and on October 2nd, 2009 the city was selected to host the 2016 Olympic Games. This was in addition to Rio hosting the 2014 World Cup Finals and general growth in Brazil – the 8th largest economy in the world – perhaps soon to overtake Italy, France and the UK.
So we’ve been excited about the long-term opportunities, and have focused on publishing consistently, and growing carefully. Simultaneously improving our journalism standards, as well as adding new sections and features to the site. Now as the 2011 Holiday/Carnival season arrives, it is time to take the next big step with a Print version.
We are starting with a printed Monthly edition, and if we can cover our costs, we’ll move to a 2x Monthly and then hopefully a Weekly to match our Online publishing schedule. Initially we’ll print 5,000 copies and distribute to all the major hotels, hostels, select newsstands and gringo hot-spots.
Our first issue of the Print edition went to press Tuesday, and should be available Friday, January 21st. If you like the publication, and want to help us grow, make sure to bring a copy to local businesses and suggest they advertise. Also of course, keep up with our weekly news Online at www.riotimesonline.com.