Each year as we are celebrating the winners of the Nappie Awards, Lagniappe is also celebrating a birthday. This year we turn 15.
We’re not babies anymore, and thankfully we have our braces off and our acne under control (mostly). We’ve certainly grown up a lot, but like any 15-year-old we still have a lot to learn.
When I look back over the very first Nappie Awards issue, I am amazed we made it to the second one. The font sizes were ginormous because we didn’t have enough advertising to fill the pages. We had zero news coverage — only opinion columns, food reviews, and arts and entertainment coverage.
Not to say the content we had wasn’t good, it was. It was just limited. And the topics we opined on were a little lighter. For example, Nappie Award-winning radio host Sean Sullivan, who wrote a column for us back then, was contemplating the evolution of men’s shorts.
COMPLETE LIST — 2017 NAPPIE AWARDS
And it seems we were a little racier with our headlines back then, too. My column was topped with “Not quite a parliament of whores, but close.” This was back when I was covering City Council and they were considering suspending the business license of Jam’s Lounge, a bar on Dauphin Street, alleged to be offering tricks with their liquid treats. Not in the bar, thankfully. They had a bus that would take you to a different location for said tricks. I had forgotten about that. Bow chicka bow wow!
Oh, how things have changed — for downtown, the city as a whole and the paper.
When Rob and I first started Lagniappe, I don’t think we knew exactly what it would look like 15 years later. We were just trying to get it off the ground, which was not easy and took far longer than we thought it would.
Though we always had goals for it, many things have changed the paper rather organically, as we grew along with the city.
After we were able to stay around long enough and our budget got slightly bigger than a shoestring, we were able to add more hard news content and investigative reporting, not to mention our talented graphic artists and photographers who have made the papers look much, much better than those sad first ones.
And once the Press-Register decided to go to a thrice weekly from a daily and operate under a more statewide, “digital first” approach, we knew we had to fill some gaps there, too. That’s what prompted us to become a weekly instead of a bi-weekly, which was a huge change for us. And a scary one, but it was the right decision, even in a time when everyone was screaming print was all but dead.
Over the years, we’ve added more columnists and tried to expand our coverage to points north and across the bay as much as we can.
In that first Nappie Awards paper, we had an ad announcing we had just placed the first batch of our “hideous pink boxes.” We had 12 of those and three “regal purple ones.” Now we have six times as many boxes and more than 1,300 distribution spots. Some of those poor, hideous pink ones are still around. Bless their hearts.
And we couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our advertisers, some of which have been with us from the very beginning.
Sometimes I think people forget newspapers are largely supported by advertising. They see them as institutions that should always just be there no matter what. But that is not reality. They are businesses that have to be supported like any other.
Lagniappe’s investigation into Herman Thomas, the 911 Board, indigent defense spending, the Mobile Housing Board and coverage of the mayor’s race … the Luv Guv’s saga … the BayFest, TenSixtyFive, SouthSounds and Hangout festivals … and 15 years of Nappie Awards (just to name a few) have all been brought to you by the local grocery, shoe, clothing and jewelry stores who support us as well as real estate offices, restaurants, doctors, dentists, banks, lawyers and even naughty shops and gentleman’s clubs. The very different people and different kind of businesses who are the unique threads that make up the fabric that is our community. Without them, we could not have brought you, our readers, any of this.
All forms of media have to battle for their piece of the same pie in any given market. Obviously, as times have changed, more and more players are trying to get into that battle. And many of them are from Silicon Valley, such as Facebook, Google, Instagram and Pandora, to name just a few. Their appeal is obvious, but just remember: If you want local media, you have to support it, whether it’s us, our local magazines or local radio stations.
So once again, we thank all of those who have helped get us to 15. And we are excited to see what the next 15 will bring.
We do know we have some “exciting changes” ahead as we make our way to “sweet 16.”
This fall, we will be moving back downtown, to the place where this newspaper was born. (That sounds kind of like a country song.) Along with a partner, we have purchased a building on Government Street and are in the process of renovating it. We look forward to gazing out at the summer traffic jams on Government Street until the bridge is built (some time by the year 3000) and being back in the heart of the city.
From our new HQ, we are committed to bringing you the same award-winning journalism we always have, with hopes to continue expanding our coverage to more and more areas throughout the city. And we will have some cool new options for our advertisers as well.
As we blow out our candles and make a wish, we thank you for letting us Keep Mobile Funky for the last 15 years and hopefully for many more.