Editorial, by Stone Korshak
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In both the specific and general sense we are being responsive. Specifically, we have just launched our new website design last Saturday (November 23rd) and it is using “responsive design” technology which I’ll define below, and we’re also trying to be responsive to the marketplace, changing and adapting to the opportunities around us.
We started almost five years ago now, in March 2009, as a weekly online community news source serving Rio and Brazil, with a business model based on the free weekly/community news publishers, which is the only model able to stay profitable in the new millennium.
Since then we’ve had pre-salt oil booming (and busting*), the World Cup and Olympic fever, UPP favela pacification, an economy that went from 7.5 percent GPD growth in 2010 to 0.9 percent in 2012, a real that went from 2.5 to the U.S. dollar, to 1.5, and then back again, and millions protesting on the streets. Oh, also, a real estate market that has grown over 225 percent by some counts.
“May you live in interesting times,” tells us the ancient Chinese proverb, or curse, that no one can trace back to China, but is still just as poignant: chaos also leads to opportunity, and life can get boring without challenges and new adventures.
So as we see 2013 coming to an end, and with 2014 – the year of the World Cup – upon us, The Rio Times is responding to the changing landscape once again. What does that mean? Well, you will have to wait and see for some things, but in essence, we are responding to a more competitive marketplace at a time when the local economy is retracting.
We are continually restructuring ourselves to deal with talent coming and going; finding new roles and filling gaps with the great set of reporters we have been graced with. We will never be CNN or BBC, so some we have to let go of, but we’ll always try to keep the good ones involved.
We are changing our pricing and revenue model to account for the spiking cost of living and doing business in Brazil. If private schools are increasing their fees by forty percent and a small açaí now costs R$7, we need to adjust correspondingly. As much as we would like to be altruistic, we have to pay the rent.
At the same time, we need to stay ahead of anyone who may want to be competition for our readers, or advertisers. That means providing better news and information to keep you, our reader, coming to us first and foremost, and I say that unapologetically. To respond to the challenge, we’re stepping up our game, which brings us to the website redesign.
According to our friends Wikimedia (by the way, have you donated to them yet? If not, you should), “responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).”
I have to admit: three months ago, I had never heard of the term, but after consulting in New York for a couple months at an agency for the Samsung.com redesign, it soon became clear that we needed this, so we scrapped our current redesign effort and switched gears to this in a double-time rush to launch before the holiday high season and things got REALLY busy.
We hope you like it.
* The oil business has not “burst” in Brazil. In fact, major U.S. and European companies have pulled out due to high cost, high risk and low profit. It has affected the amount of foreign oil workers in Rio and Brazil dramatically.
P.S. – Happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow)!