With one more issue left in the pipeline after today's new release, Nucity Publications Inc., the parent company of Albuquerque's Weekly Alibi alt.weekly newspaper, will be handing over the reins to Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who announced today he'll take over as publisher and co-owner alongside his business partner Abby Lewis.
Founded in 1992, the free Weekly Alibi has long been an alternative news source to Albuquerque's daily paper, the Albuquerque Journal and, like most similar publications across the country, splits its duties between news reporting and an arts and culture focus. The Alibi has struggled with the dwindling circulation and ad revenues facing newspapers globally and even stopped printing in April, May and June at the outset of COVID-19. The pandemic also brought the paper's weekly circulation numbers down from 2019's 20,000 to 5,000.
But Davis, who was elected to the Albuquerque City Council in 2015, says he's energized.
"We've given everybody who works at the Alibi the opportunity to stay and continue doing exactly what they were doing," he tells SFR. "And just like I did at the Political Report, we're going to be giving our reporters time to do the deeper investigative pieces the dailies can't do."
He's referring to the online news source NM Political Report, the journalistic offshoot of Progress Now New Mexico, a progressive communications and advocacy nonprofit founded by Davis in 2013. He says he wants to bring that same ethical drive to the Alibi moving forward, as well as "a lot more digital work that engages a lot more voices."
That could include a broader variety of reporters, according to Davis, and a wider array of contributions.
"If you look at the media landscape in Albuquerque—and this last edition of the Alibi is a great example—we have the shooting of Ken Reiss, a beloved bartender shot by APD after he called them to his house; and lots of unusual things seem to have transpired, we still don't know what exactly happened," Davis says. "But the fact that a city that has led the nation in officer-involved shootings for years…the fact that no other news outlet was willing to…look at the search warrants, talk to neighbors and figure out what happened, that just goes to show where the disinvestment in media has led us to."
Davis, who has engaged in years worth of high-profile conflicts with the Albuquerque Journal, also says he envisions working closely with other New Mexico media outlets, singling out issues of climate change and racial justice as statewide concerns for which reporting could be collaborative. For now, however, he's focused on "growing into the role of publisher."
"My role," he continues, "is to be sure we have the dollars and the infrastructure to support our reporters, and just like we did at the Political Report, we're going to follow the [Society of Professional Journalists'] ethics."
As for community issues that could come up involving Davis as a city councilor and public figure, he responds that he understands he must be open to criticism but that "we've put in those firewalls and we're going to take a pass on covering Pat Davis as a key figure."
The first issue under Davis' leadership drops Thursday, Sept. 10.
"The Alibi has never tried to be Albuquerque's daily paper of record," he adds, "but in its 30 years, it's been at its best when it took on big community issues and became a forum for community voices."
The news is the latest in changes to the New Mexico media landscape. Earlier this month, the Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican announced a deal by which Albuquerque would close its printing plant and instead pay the Santa Fe paper to print it.
This week, the Los Alamos Monitor announced it would close after 57 years in print.