This week marks 16 years of helping Keep Mobile Funky for this fine publication, and in some ways this may have been our most challenging and rewarding year to date.

I say rewarding because our journalism from 2017 has so far brought in more than 20 awards from various competitions and is in the running for at least five more. So definitely our most “rewarded” year. And while awards are subjective, they are hopefully a small barometer of the kind of work we’re doing.

When this paper first rolled off the presses July 24, 2002, our goal was always to let editorial copy lead us to the promised land of more readers and more advertisers. I think we’ve done that, although there’s always more we could have done with more resources.

One of the biggest challenges of this year was renovating and moving into our own building at 704 Government St. Being downtown right on the main drag is a big change, but one that has been a lot of fun and brought a lot of energy. There’s something about watching everyone walk by downtown that makes you feel like a bigger part of the city.

Of course, in 2017-2018, staying relevant as a print newspaper is the biggest challenge. The constant drumbeat of “print is dead” flies in the face of what we’re experiencing, but there are still a lot of people willing to entertain that point of view. The latest Nielsen Research survey of our area shows this newspaper with nearly 80,000 readers each week and more than 130,000 unique readers over a six-month period. We also average more than 40,000 readers a month on our website, not to mention having more than 20,000 Facebook followers.

Most media are still climbing out of the massive advertising plunge that took place almost two years ago now. It’s something that left two of the nation’s largest radio conglomerates in bankruptcy, caused layoffs and cutbacks across the media spectrum and led to more than a few newspapers going out of business.

But, as in most cases, Mobile isn’t like everywhere else. Although our daily newspaper is gone, your weekly newspaper is stable and delivering as much news as we can. Of course more advertisers and subscribers will only help us add reporters and improve coverage. (Nudge, nudge!)

All that said, we want to thank Lagniappe’s readers and advertisers for sticking with us for 16 years. Please know we take the job of serving as the Mobile area’s newspaper very seriously and consider it a great honor to get to cover this crazy, fun, amazing city.